THE BLOG
08/28/2014 09:15 am ET Updated Oct 28, 2014

Is It Food, or Is It Foodiness? Let's Ask Cookie Monster!

Let's talk about non-butter butters. Since my last post was about non-milk milks and English as a flawed language, it seems a logical progression. Obviously I don't mean real, delicious, actual dairy butter made from cream, nor am I discussing unspeakably disgusting margarine and other non-dairy spreads which as far as I'm concerned, should be banned along with cigarettes and birthday-flavored vodka. No, I'm talking about the other butters, the ones made of usually ok stuff, but can't seem to find their necessary descriptive second noun. Stuff like peanut putter, or other nut butters, apple butter, pumpkin butter, and what about body butter? Is that actually made from human fat? Maybe I can partner with a plastic surgeon to buy up all the liposuction fat and turn it into body butter, and use it to feed people in places with severe hunger? Oh, wait...body butter is just another misnomer for moisturizer? Oh, if you call it butter, it just costs more and comes in a tub, apparently. Got it.

Ok then, what about...cookie butter? What? What the hell is cookie butter? It's just started to appear on my Korean-war (sorry, conflict) -era radar screen lately (note to self, update radar technology this fall) and I've been seeing people buying it at my local Foodiness-filled chain store. I did a little research on it because I couldn't figure out what its purpose was other than as a stoner snack and it turns out, it's actually their number ONE best-selling item right now! Yes, number one best seller, speculoos cookie butter. Speculoos are a Dutch butter cookie with a caramelized, sugary surface that are so delicious, I guess people wanted them in a delivery system that allowed them to ingest many, many more cookies at a time, without the pesky, annoying chewing part of the process to slow them down.

Is this what we've come to? This infantilized? Are we unable to eat actual food? Like real food, that requires teeth and maybe even a fork and isn't hyper-sweetened to suit a picky toddler's palate? I thought I'd seen it all, really. In two years of doing Let's Get Real, I thought I'd gone to the depths of Foodiness and beyond, but no. I mean, I love cookies, and I love butter. I especially love cookies when they're made with real butter, but I like to keep my cookie eating experience in the realm of the tactile; crunchy or chewy or soft, in a hand-held, autonomous object mode. I want to bite and chew my cookies, not spread them. This may be the true sign of the apocalypse, a spreadable cookie.

But back to the cookie butter spread, let's take this downstairs into the Foodiness fallout shelter and break it down in the lab, shall we? Lab coats and safety goggles on please everyone.

So, it's a jar of smooth, spreadable, finely ground-up cookie dust and hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats and additional sugar, with all the texture and satisfying creaminess of peanut butter, but none of the beneficial protein, minerals, omega 3's and other good fats of peanuts? Nope, none of that, it's just cookie spread. Whatsa matter, you can't just eat a cookie? You have to turn it into a buttery spread? Did you lose your teeth? Do we need cookies you can spoon directly from a jar? Do people pour melted cookie butter spread over their cookie-dough ice cream and wash it down with cookie-flavored coffee lightened with Girl Scout-cookie-flavored creamer? Um, yes. The label even encourages the consumer to melt it in the microwave and use it as a sauce or dip. What they really, should do, is just sell it with a bonus souvenir bong attached, because its pretty obvs who they are marketing this stuff to.

In my hours of meticulous research on cookie butter online I saw a picture and recipe for cookie butter sandwich cookies. Now, is it just me, or isn't that like some weird form of cannibalism or something? Like the snake eating its own tail? It seems almost obscene, or cruel, or just weird to take cookies, in all their simple glory, grind them into dust, mix the dust with hydrogenated vegetable shortening and extra sugar, and then spread that back between two more cookies? I dunno, something's wrong there. It's like a turducken of cookies. Maybe we should take the cookie butter sandwich cookie and then bake it inside of a jelly donut then sandwich that between the layers of a red velvet cake?

Or maybe I'm the dolt and it's more like a vaguely modernist, molecular cuisine approach to food. Maybe it's such sophisticated and advanced culinary thinking that I'm just too thick-headed and stuck in my traditional cheffy ways to see the genius? Like if some recent culinary-school-grad boys (because almost all of them in that hardware-intense world ARE boys) said, "Dude, I know, lets grind up some of these perfectly good cookies, mix them with rendered duck fat and transglutaminase meat glue, put it in a Co2 siphon bottle and puff out clouds of it into a bath of alginate, and then serve them as a spread on an edible packing peanut made from cornstarch dust (those are a real thing, I've tried them, even I can't make that shit up) but then on the same plate we also used the anti-griddle and spread them really thin to make super-frozen wafer cookies with liquid nitrogen out of the butter and then make a sandwich "cookie" from both elements. Dude! That'd be totally awesome!"

Um, yeah...or, just eat cookies?

Aren't the cookies alone enough? When does it stop? Why aren't we happy with a cookie? Why do we need to turn cookies into butter? I bet if cookie monster got a hold of a jar of cookie butter, he'd get it all over his fluffy blue fur and his monster hands. I'm not sure he actually has a tongue, so how could he lick his fur clean of that mess? And he's definitely not on the huge line at the store, waiting for his jar. He's happy with the real thing. And he's a monster! They're super hard to please.

Cookie Monster would never eat cookie butter. Even he has standards. Oscar probably would, if a half-empty jar was tossed into his trash can. Big Bird, for sure. He's got the intellect and palate of a three-year old. Bert and Ernie? Well, let's just say they might find other uses for it.