On Souplantation's Cookies

Souplantation is a harmless (I don't mean that sarcastically) and serviceable way to detox from a weeklong meat binge. It's also perfect when you want to please the vegetarian in your midst. We took a visiting Indian colleague who was "veg," and he gushed about it for days.

But Souplantation's got an even higher purpose for existence: their chocolate chip cookies.

In my opinion, these are the greatest chocolate chip cookies the universe has ever known. They make Mrs. Fields look like a two-bit fraud.

Bagged as a baker's dozen (that's 13 cookies!), you'll see them near the end of the buffet line. Yet most people ignore them. After all, why buy the cookies when they are given away for free inside, next to the desserts?

But to shove them in your gullet willy-nilly as part of an AYCE gorge-fest will make you oblivious to how good they actually are.

I, on the other hand, bypass the meal entirely and pay for the bag of cookies to take home.

These cookies are worth relishing slowly, away from all the rush.

When you do savor them, you'll notice how buttery and not overly sweet they are. The edges are crisp and slightly porous, like sea coral. In the middle -- if it's a particularly big cookie -- there will be an area of softness that's wonderfully chewy.

To ensure you're eating the best possible, a "baked fresh" label is attached to the bag with plastic twine. Check it if you'd like, but it will always be the same date you bought them.

Now the bad news. This month, like the price of all foodstuffs, I noticed that the cost for a bag jumped modestly from $1.79 to $1.99. On closer inspection of the ingredients list, I may have figured out why: The margarine is gone, replaced by a "palm oil butter blend." The rest of the roster remains the same: flour, chocolate chips, water, sugar, bown sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt and vanilla.

But since this "palm oil butter blend" is presumably trans-fat-free, it makes the cookies actually healthier. And if 20 cents ensures this, it's two dimes I'd happily part with.

I wouldn't take this as a license to binge, though . . . A cookie is still a cookie, after all.


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