S
P
A
T
C
H
.
N
E
T
dateline July 29, 2003
remember, remember the seventh of november
November 7, 2006
the dan brown code
July 21, 2005
to fserve and protect
March 17, 2005
kchung kchungggg
March 27, 2004
you keep using that word...
November 22, 2003
pedro pointed at the sky
October 17, 2003
you filthy pragmatists!
July 29, 2003
the life and times of Reginald the Orc
July 6, 2003
we ruin it twelve ways
June 14, 2003
the scrounging game
March 17, 2003
gotta green before code
November 18, 2002
spatch vs. ants
July 8, 2002
nobody leaves until there's at least 20% on the table
February 14, 2002
send in the clones
August 6, 2001
catzenpoppin
July 8, 2001
some title about Survivor here
May 3, 2001
choose your own damn sugar rush
April 24, 2001
cuckoo for cat chow
December 7, 2000
that's ah-sweep-eh
September 7, 2000
margarita bob, back in town
July 31, 2000
stupid cat tricks
July 17, 2000
eminently predictable
June 28, 2000
maggot-like dinosaur eggs, breakfast of champions
June 22, 2000
blank page
April 3, 2000
eiffel65, leave my head please
March 6, 2000
push(@mattress, $money)
February 11, 2000
pits and bieces
January 8, 2000
Bye Bye Bag
December 22, 1999
Seeing the Elephant
November 10, 1999
k-tel's K-12 hits
October 18, 1999
Me detruisant doucement avec sa chanson
September 10, 1999
Pointless snarky web rantings
September 2, 1999
Vending God memoirs
August 30, 1999
koo koo ka choo, Mrs. Andrews
July 21, 1999
History On Parade
June 17, 1999

archives

you filthy pragmatists!

Much to my surprise and shock, at approximately 9:17 this evening, I found myself saddled with an enormous craving for Lemon Coolers, something I had not even considered eating for a very long time. A lemon cooler, for those of you playing at home, is a wonderful thing given to us by the nice people at the Sunshine Biscuit Company. The cookie is a sort of shortbready thing but lighter than shortbread, really -- with a tangy lemon zip to it thanks to being dusted in a thin sheen of powdered sugar (powdered lemony sugar, thank you.) As far as I know there was no snicket involved, either. I seem to recall eating them a lot at my grandparents' house in Milroy, Pennsylvania, nearly 20 years ago. The unique taste of the lemon cooler cookie is forever linked in my mind to the large glasses made of thick glass that Grandma liked.

What didn't come as any surprise to me, however, was the fact that I had decided to take upon myself this grand and glorious craving as I stood in the middle of the cookie aisle at the Super Stop & Shop in Medford tonight. You tend to think about cookies when they're the only thing in your field of vision. Sometimes, when perusing the cookie aisle, you know exactly what cookie you want -- hey hey, it's an Oreo week! Or perhaps a nice box of those delicious Fudge Stripes that go so well with milk. Sometimes, however, you don't want a heavy chocolate cookie. No, sir, you want something nice and light, and that's indeed what I was looking for when the lemon coolers suddenly popped into my head and did their little dance of remembrance and joy.

"I think I'll get some Lemon Coolers!" I finally said out loud, once the memory was sufficiently jogged. "Now to casually stroll on down the aisle and find a box!" But there's a big unfortunately here, and it comes to us like this: Unfortunately, I couldn't find a box of Lemon Coolers anywhere. I remembered them in a box the size of a Nilla Wafers box, predominantly green with perhaps yellow writing or a yellow stripey gradient in the background. The little white powdery puffs were tastefully arranged on a plate, looking so inviting and tempting and cooling. There may or may not have been a doily involved, I'm not sure.

But this design and that box were nowhere to be found. There wasn't even shelf space marked "THE TASTIEST COOKIES IN THE UNIVERSE" so asking an employee was out. I found the Sunshine section and it was rather small and had no cookies whatsoever, just a few cracker brands that we all know and love. This worried me, because Sunshine was also known for other kinds of cookies, such as the Hydrox, a clever Oreo-like cookie. What could have happened? Where did they go? Perhaps the Stop & Shop just wasn't in tune with the cookie demands of the hip and with-it. Ah well.

My chagrin was further compounded, however, when I returned home this evening and decided to investigate the Mystery of the Missing Cookies (which, really, sounds like something that would ideally be solved by three or four kids between the ages of seven and nine who make up their own personal Neighborhood Mystery Solving Society; the culprit in this case would be one girl's big shaggy sheepdog who likes cookies. Of course you'd have to turn to page 58 in the back of the book to find the answer if you couldn't figure it out yourself... oh, come on, Poirot, the dusty paw prints leading to and from the cookie plate weren't a dead enough giveaway?)

Upon cramming the search terms Sunshine, Hydrox and "lemon coolers" down Google's gaping maw, I came up with several conclusions and facts which I'll now annotate and share with you:

  • THE KEEBLER ELVES BOUGHT OUT THE SUNSHINE BAKERS IN 1995.

    Now this site actually reveals several other revealing facts: for one, Hydrox cookies were here first before those Oreo interlopers came on the scene. And, truth be told, it always did seem to me that Hydrox cookies were some kind of low-rent alternative (a kinder way of saying "knock-off") of Oreos, as well as having a name that sounds like a cross between a cattle illness and the medication taken to counteract it, but amazingly enough that's not the case. At least, not the knock-off part. It's Hydrox who were forced down the cookie pecking order thanks to the National Biscuit Company's knockoff. And as amazing and compelling as this tale of cookie rivalry is, I cannot continue talking about it because it does not involve lemon coolers, so on we go to the next fact, which is

  • THE KINDLY AND SWEET KEEBLER ELVES BUMRUSHED THE LEMON COOLERS, STUCK 'EM IN A SACK, AND DROPPED 'EM OFF A BRIDGE OVER A SWIFTLY-MOVING RIVER THAT JUST HAPPENED TO BE NEAR THE OL' HOLLOW TREE.

    Ok, so perhaps that's a wee bit dramatic, but there are cookies on the line here, dammit! Don't you see? And in case you can't see the string "Lemon Coolers" on that page, try expanding the "Other Keebler Cookies" link. I could not find the string "Lemon Coolers" at first even though Google assured me it had been there at one point, and I became even more worried that not only had Keebler discontinued my beloved Lemon Coolers, but they'd also taken the ol' Stalinist Airbrush to the party portrait of Keebler products and removed the very hint of the cookies' existence out of the picture. Luckily this is not exactly what happened, and the Keebler people grudgingly admit (after a modicum of fussing and menu expanding on our part) that yes, there once existed a kind of cookie called Lemon Coolers, and yes, they did think enough of it at one point to make the name a registered trademark, but no, they don't think enough of it now to actually make and sell them. (Hydrox, on the other hand, became "Keebler Droxies", not that I've ever seen those darkening a cookie shelf near me, and apparently the recipe was changed enough that the Hydrox purists consider them to be bastard sons of the original. Oh well.)

    This horrible revelation, mind you, is what prompted me to raise my fist at the onscreen image of Ernie Elf and all his elfin buddies, including "Rocker" the X-Treme Rockin' Cookie Elf or whatever the hell his name is, and holler "YOU FILTHY PRAGMATISTS! YOU COOKIE SQUANDERERS! YOU'LL GET WHAT'S COMING TO YOU ONE DAY, MARK MY WORDS!" And then I sat back down in my little chair and pretended I hadn't done that.

  • BUT ALL IS NOT LOST, GENTLE READER! YOU, TOO, CAN MAKE LEMON COOLERS IN THE COMFORT AND PRIVACY OF YOUR OWN HOME WITHOUT THOSE ELFIN LAWYERS EVER KNOWING!

    Ain't modern technology wonderful? (Actually, the entire Top Secret Recipes site is quite interesting, with Reasonable Facsimiles Thereof for a whole bunch of your favorite foody-type items, from Orange Julius smoothies to Thin Mints should you be unable to locate a Girl Scout before Cookie Time is over.) The site tells you how to make the cookie part and the lemony powdered sugar, and lovingly calls the preparation of the treats "Bake 'n Shake." Of course, I'm pretty sure a recipe for these cookies exists without a long-gone product tie-in, but it's heartening to see the recipe displayed like this. For people like me. Who miss those dear little cookies.

  • AND EVEN PEPPERIDGE FARM, BLESS THEIR HEARTS, PROVIDE HOPE FOR THE LAZY!

    Yes, there still is hope. For, you see, this evening's shopping sojourn did not end entirely unfruitfully. No sir, for not only did I come out of the store with a box of Monopoly Cereal (with "Marshmallow Deeds!") and a bottle of Turquoise Flavored Gatorade, but I found a box of Pepperidge Farm "Zesty Lemon" Spritzers. $2.50 for a rather small box, but a box nonetheless. And I must admit, the cookies inside bear quite a remarkable resemblance to the Lemon Coolers I knew and loved (oh, the change to past tense here breaks my heart but it must happen.) A resemblance, but not entirely faithful to my memory (but then again, is anything "just as good as you remember it"?) The Pepperidge Farm attempt is yes, kinda shortbready with yes, the lemony powdered sugar providing the flavor, but perhaps there's too much lemony powdered sugar, however. Yes, perhaps. It came on way too strong and didn't linger as I remember the original Lemon Coolers lingering. But fear not, for even if I were the type who enjoys casually bandying about a dreadful phrase such as "my childhood has been raped" for every cultural ailment from Star Wars prequels to Gummi Bears slash, I wouldn't use it in this situation. Because, frankly, they taste good enough to satisfy my discerning, nostalgic palate. Even if they are ludicrously priced (and for a Pepperidge Farm cookie, at that!)

    But perhaps I'd better enjoy this box while I can, because honestly, I'm worried that the Spritzer's days are numbered too. Pepperidge Farm (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Campbell Soup Company, natch) has no mention of the fruity cookies on their site. Google only provided a few leads, most notably one nota bene from a couple in New Jersey who had a rotten experience with a bad box of the Key Lime persuasion ("The cookie left a bitter after taste, antiseptic and distinctly chemical-like. Drinking water did not remove the taste from our mouths") and capsule descriptions of an episode of CSI where, apparently, the box of cookies was featured in one shot of an open refrigerator. Well, I guess it pays to document everything in a mystery.

So if the Pepperidge Farm people turn their backs on this curious and by now rather maligned (at $2.50 a teeny box! Sunshine packed zillions into theirs for the same price, if not less!) cookie, at least we have our recipes. And perhaps someday when I actually think about baking again and not just making pasta or soup on the stove, I'll give the recipe a whirl. I hope they'll be as good as I remember. Then all I'll need is just a set of thick, greenish, textured drinking glasses, and my regression will be complete.


Take care, and don't eat anything you shouldn't.

R. Noyes
Somerville, Massachusetts
02143