We’ve all been there: you see a cookie, sitting there (at Sharples, in your kitchen, next to the grapes at formal…) innocently, just waiting to be eaten. You pick it up and take a bite, ready for the sweet and rich flavor of chocolate to make your tastebuds dance. But no, something is wrong. There is something chewy and … dare I say … fruity in your mouth. It’s wrong, it’s all wrong! You look down to realize that the traitorous baked good you hold is not a chocolate chip cookie at all, but an oatmeal raisin cookie!
You feel betrayed, lied to, and unsure of where to turn. You’re sad and disappointed. You expected chocolate, and you were met with raisins.
I know the pain. I know the feeling of dashed hopes, of longings unmet. But I believe that maybe, in our waves of anger and grief and frustration, we’ve been overlooking a longstanding and noble member of the cookie clan.
Oatmeal raisin cookies are not chocolate chip cookies, it’s true. But it’s not fair to completely dismiss them simply because they are not what they can never be. Oatmeal raisin cookies have their rightful place in our ovens.
First, let’s discuss the raisins. Dried fruit may not at first sound as appealing as pockets of chocolatey goodness, but they are little gems in their own way. They are sweet, a little bit chewy, and just the perfect size for a cookie mix-in. In a good specimen, you get a sweet little surprise in every bite. What’s more, they make the cookie delightfully moist. And, the best part of all, they will not melt all over your fingers like their cocoa-flavored cousins. There is no need to carry around napkins or Wet Ones, no fear of smearing chocolate all over your notebook while you have a quick mid-class snack, and no chance of walking around, unknowingly, with a telltale brown smear on your face for half the day.
And “why put oatmeal in a cookie?” you might ask. Sure, we might all love oatmeal bar when it comes around, but do we really want it in our dessert? It may be unexpected, even unconventional, but some of the best things in life are: finding five dollars on the ground, when your professor cancels class, Ralph P. Thayer’s emails. The oats add a nutty flavor to the cookie that perfectly balances the sweetness from the raisins. Plus they provide a fun textural component that gives the baked good a lovely and interesting mouthfeel (here I would like to thank my years of watching Chopped every single night for my ridiculously extensive food-related vocabulary).
Even more importantly, oatmeal raisin cookies are almost always soft and chewy. Chocolate chip cookies, ever the deceivers, may trick you into thinking they’re ooey-gooey when in reality they’re hard and crunchy. This is almost never the case with the unsung hero of this article — oatmeal raisin cookies nearly guarantee you a soft, chewy snack, with none of this thin and crispy nonsense.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “she’s out of her mind,” I understand. I, too, used to be a nonbeliever. If you told my eight-year-old self that I would one day write this article, she would have called you a liar (possibly laughed at you and definitely wrinkled her nose in disgust). I, too, have bitten into a baked treat and almost gagged, realizing I was chewing on dried fruit and oats rather than chocolate. But I believe it’s time for us to move past these trying times, to turn a new leaf, to open our minds (and mouths) to the possibility of a new, different, yet still delicious cookie. Oatmeal raisin cookies have become fundamentally entangled with disappointment in our minds. But it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. There is room for all kinds of cookies in our lives.
Once we see this, we can learn to enjoy any cookies as they come. Both types will taste better for having enjoyed the other. And if in the future, as may very well happen, we once more find ourselves biting into raisins instead of chocolate chips, we may see it not as a tragedy, but as an unexpected pleasure. As Bob Ross once said, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” I, for one, will happily accidentally eat an oatmeal raisin cookie any day of the week.