Keebler Cookies & Creme Whoopsy! Fudge Stripes Cookies
Submitted by Amy Barnes

The current political climate has definitely driven me to emotionally stress eat. In times of stress, I don’t turn to Mother Mary — at least not for food. She is only good for some great ’60s music and fervent, rosary-driven prayers. As I run my fingers down those beads (rainbow bedroom curtain or rosary — take your pick), I truly find comfort in cookies. All kinds. The kinds with names that make me giggle like a snickerdoodle. The old favorites that are simple and filled with chocolate chips. The oatmeal raisin ones that masquerade as cookies but are actually just breakfast cookies. The ones that have a name that begins with “M” that I still can’t get straight: which one is the macaroon, the macaron, or the Macron? All very tasty cookies, especially that last one.

In my cookie haze, I’ve also begun binge-watching The Twilight Zone and The Great British Baking Show (still mad that the American version couldn’t even stay on because one of the judges had sticky fingers). Somehow, those shows seem like a fitting duo of people being tortured: some with odd short stories and others with obscure British recipes and soggy bottoms. They all kind of blur together in a haze of sugar and theme music. One of the creepiest Twilight Zone episodes was apparently a crossover event with the baking shows of their times; the main character is eating gingerbread men that are akin to voodoo dolls. In quick screen flashes, we see the direct Psycho-like bloody results of what happens when you bite the head off a gingerbread man (something I haven’t been able to do since).

All of which brings me to Keebler Cookies & Creme Whoopsy! Fudge Stripes Cookies. I have been waiting for a message of some kind to come through all of the cookies I’ve been eating — like Jesus on a Pecan Sandie or a big “checkmate” on a Chessman shortbread. All I have been getting is the message that I’m gaining 15 pounds from eating cookies. Until now. There’s a lot of talk about how Jeff Sessions resembles the Keebler elf. We might joke about that but we know all know that Ron Ben Israel and Buddy Valastro run all bakeries. With the release of the Keebler Cookies & Creme Whoopsy! Fudge Stripe Cookies, I know that Jeff Sessions may finally be sending out a message. A distress call? Maybe. A reiteration of his beliefs that white and black people shouldn’t coexist even in striped cookies? Perhaps.

That “whoopsy” in the middle may also just be some misguided attempt by Keebler to be weird funny like the Twix “right” and “left” Twix bar commercial saga. However, the image on the outside of the container has a panicked elf holding onto his hat as he looks at the mostly white #fullyfudged cookies (that is seriously the Keebler “hashtag”). Did Sessions break out of the White House to visit Keebler and talk to the world through cookies? Is this a Sessions cookie message that he is sorry? With a whimsical “Whoopsy”. Somehow that’s how I see him finally apologizing as he bounces in his court seat. “Whoopsy. I didn’t mean to do bad things or say bad things or not admit anything bad”. Or is he sending some trapped-in-a-fortune-cookie-writing-factory-style message to the cookie buying populace—"You are #fullyfudged just like me"?

What do these cookies taste like? A little bit like a fudged-over America. A big mess. Whoopsy-d out. Too sweetly civil when they don’t really have to be. The white fudge wins for some reason. Again. Where is all the chocolate colored fudge, Keebler? The color of most normal fudge. Who eats white fudge? We eat brown fudge. And the occasional peanut butter tan fudge.

I take a bite of the first one out of the package. Somewhere, somehow, someone feels that all Twilight Zone American Baking Show-Style. Jeff Sessions gets his wings. Rod Serling rolls over in his grave. I gain another three pounds. And we are all still #fullyfudged.

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Starbucks Ultra Caramel Frappuccino
Submitted by Joanna Novak

In high school, I belonged to a clique. We were known starvers, a badge we would’ve gladly carved into our flesh — preferably the most conspicuous cubit — but once every six weeks we broke our good behavior and went to Starbucks. It was newish. Funnish. The drink du jour: the Frappuccino. Did anyone really want other flavors? Mocha? Espresso? We fiended caramel. Sometimes we ordered a Grande, split four ways. Other times, we each had a Tall, extra whip. We examined the calories on those unwieldy paper nutritional maps stashed by the straws, pinkying across columns of numbers, tabulating what extra or foregone whipped cream did to the totals. On Frappuccino days, we felt giddy in our guilt-fueled piousness at lunchtime where we flicked our empty trays. Inside us, the sugar was alive.

In short, I cart around a fair amount of emotional baggage when it comes to Frappucinos, so to try the new Ultra Caramel iteration, I have to get myself drunk. I do it with wine, in a new city, alone at a bar, where the pizza is served in grease-catching trays recycled from tire shops. The Chianti makes me chatty — Family Feud is playing on a corner-mounted tube TV — and hungry, even after eating a whole pizza because I am, lately, in the habit of only picking at toppings.

Now that I’m an adult, I enter a Starbucks in precisely two scenarios these days—when I buy a salad from the location in Gower Gulch, an Old West-y strip mall on Sunset Boulevard, or when, on a road trip, but on this occasion, it’s the first time that I’ve been at a Starbucks post-9 PM since high school. Near a university, it’s busy. Coeds cram chemistry formulas, working with an array of highlighters.

The barista who takes my order clarifies what the glam-bombastic ad copy has not: what makes the Ultra Caramel Frappuccino ultra is whipped cream. Layers of it, layers with caramel sauce. Ultra, as in a sort of Frappuccino-cum-parfait, with a couple inches of whipped cream in the bottom of the cup, caramel, the Frappuccino beverage, and then a second application of whip and caramel.

This is my dessert, I decide, tomato sauce faintly tangy in my mouth. Give me bells and whistles, the insurance plan, the lifetime warranty. And so, I ask the follow-up:

Can I get that extra whip?

The barista says sure; she seems pleased. She is large, I am not, but for a moment we exchange the look. Her hair is purple, and her cheeks have a constant flush. She wears a crucifix on a waxed black cord around her neck. I imagine this is the sort of drink that she might make herself. It’s the sort of drink myself-of-twenty-years-ago would drink often, were I in her green apron, just because Dionysus Lite be-damned, it would taste good to chug and puke.

I’m going to need a bigger cup, she says, as I watch her. Just for the extra whip.

No problem, I say, eyes on the Frappuccino she bangs out of the blender. When she hands it to me, it’s towering, a whipped cream nipple poking out of the domed lid that’s glued to the drink with caramel.

Enjoy! she says. I put the cup in another cup because it’s sticky.

There is a table in the corner, close to the door. In view, the spine of an organic chemistry textbook, a garbage can shaped like a black rocket. There’s a window, too, mirrored in the night, where I can watch myself in action.

I wonder if I’m going to be swept up in nostalgia or instantly stricken with diabetes, but, as it turns out, not much has changed with the Frappuccino. It is still best to use the straw as a bowl-less spoon to eat the whipped cream. Coated in caramel, it’s good. I tell myself to slow down, savor it, it’s the whole reason I ordered this, and I succeed, I eat most of it, all of it, without drinking any of the drink. I could throw it out like this, I think, and I would understand what the Ultra Caramel is all about.

But I don’t. I want to believe something has changed, or maybe that I can change. That the amount of sugar and fat is so worth it, that maybe I’ll be converted. Reconverted. Returned to the past, rerouted. Maybe I’ll become Frappuccino-happy and proud. Or at least someone settled in her choices. Someone who can tuck herself into bed and sleep sound at night.

I find the drink in the cup and suck, the straw clamped between my teeth. The intensity is sweetened condensed milk straight from the can, ice cream base before it’s churned and frozen. It’s maple syrup from the pitcher, Hershey’s on the tongue. I give myself a full mouth of it and then I notice my calf twitching, my knee bouncing. There is most of the drink in front of me. I glance at the other people. No one’s watching. I run my finger inside the lid, suck off the caramel, and toss the rest.

Oh, to be amoral! I crave the easy joy of not giving a lick about my choices. Until then, I’ll be the sort who, in one day, for the sake of self-examination, takes a liquid lunch.