Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
First, here’s the winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Soups, as voted by readers... breaking Kate Bernot’s three-week winning streak, it’s Kevin Pang!
This week, we’re once again joined by Takeout contributor Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, and our draft topic will be cookies! A few ground rules: We’re going for specificity, so we can’t just say “chocolate chip cookies.” However, in some cases there will be a varietal of cookies where the brand need not applies. If we encounter those, the other two draft competitors will vote—two no’s and the selection is disqualified. However, we don’t anticipate this to come up much. In any case, our draft randomizer has selected an order:
1. Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
2. Kate Bernot
3. Kevin Pang
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer: For me, an ideal cookie works both with and without milk. It’ll retain its structural integrity well enough if dunked, but still has a nice mix of sugar, crunch, and overall mouthfeel all on its own. On that basis, I’m starting us off with the Double-Stuf Oreo. It has more granulated sugar creme in the middle than your garden-variety Oreo, while not yielding the over-indulgence of the Mega-Stuf or other flash-in-the-pan varieties. You can bite straight through, pull off one side, or soak it in milk until it almost develops the texture of devil’s food cake. It’ll never let you down.
Kate Bernot: I’m not even the biggest Oreo fan but that Devil’s food cake bit is compelling.
Kevin Pang: Sorry to say, but I’ve never craved an Oreo in my life
To be fair, I used to work at a newspaper where we did this whole investigative report on what goes in an Oreo and I was scarred for life
Then again I also eat Slim Jims so what do I know?
KB: Don’t be surprised if Mondelez steals your Slim Jim Oreo idea.
OK, for my first pick, I’m going with my platonic ideal of a cookie, which is Walkers Shortbread.
KP: Well damn. I love those.
KB: Butter. salt. Repeat. They’re so simple but they hit all the right flavor centers in my brain.
DSM: Few cookies crumble as well, or as pleasingly, as a well-made shortbread.
KP: For my pick, I’m going with an American classic: Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies. Crisp and crunchy, biscuity, a chocolate that doesn’t melt on your fingers, and the perfect balance of mint. Lovely crumbled on ice cream.
I will add that my wife, bless her heart, hates the chocolate-mint combination, and I assumed everyone on earth loved it.
KB: Hard to argue with Thin Mints. When I was a wee Junior Girl Scout, those outsold all the other cookies 2:1.
KP: I understand people have different tastes but I can’t fathom people disliking that combination.
KB: Does she also hate Andes mints?
KP: She can’t stand those, and, doesn’t like mint chocolate chip ice cream
KB: The mind boggles.
KP: I love having the #3 pick, because it means I also have the #4 pick. I’m going with Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse chocolate chip cookies, specifically, the thin and crispy varieties. Now, I have an unfair advantage—we did a taste test of supermarket brand cookies, and without a doubt the Farmhouse brand was the best cookie we tasted. There was something more buttery with these cookies with others we sampled. My one qualm is the vertical packaging of those cookies (they’re stacked on top of each other) which means there’s always fewer cookies than you’d think.
KB: We always had Pepperidge Farm cookies in the house growing up, but they were the chunkier Nantucket variety, I believe.
KP: Yeah, it has to be the Farmhouse varietal. Really excellent stuff.
KB: Alright, my second-round pick is Milano Double Dark Chocolate. Regular Milanos are also delicious, but I think, like Dom’s Double-Stuf Oreo pick, that they benefit from an extra bit of filling, texturally. What sets these apart to me is that the quality of the chocolate is pretty decent for a store-bought cookie. Also, they seem sort of classy, as far as that goes.
DSM: Yeah, the double dark is rich in the way I always want “dark chocolate” items to be, even as they’re frequently not.
DSM: For my next pick, I have to jump back to the Girl Scouts of America once again. I’m picking Samoas, those delights of (less) dark chocolate and coconut and caramel and vanilla. Texturally, you get just about everything you could want out of a cookie, from the snap to the bit of give provided by the caramel to the crunch of the flaked coconut. Delicious.
And for those who may not know at home, depending on where you live in the continental U.S., you’re getting a slightly different version! A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times mapped out which bakers are sending your local troops their cookies, and there are often slight differences. It’s the darker, more coconut-heavy version of the Samoa that I’ve traditionally enjoyed.
KB: A.k.a. Caramel DeLites
These cookies are wily
KP: This is shocking news
DSM: To kick off round 3, I’ll be the first one to go off-brand in this week’s draft, with a family staple and perpetual favorite: Kolaczki. It’s simple enough: cream cheese, butter, flour, confectioner’s sugar, your choice of filling, and some patience while they set in the fridge. (This part is very important, as I have discovered the hard way.) When you get the dough to set just right, so that it’s thick enough to hold the filling without getting crunchy, they’re to die for.
KP: More cream cheese should be in cookies, yes
KB: And swirled into brownies, but I digress from the topic at hand.
My first two picks have been on the classier side, so it’s time to mix things up. For round 3, I choose: Mallomars.
They’re basically s’mores, but you don’t have to build a fire.
My brother and I were so into these as kids that my mom had to hide packages from us or we’d eat them all in a single sitting.
The fact that they were only available in cooler months where I grew up added to their mystique.
DSM: They also make some of the best gluten-free cookies I’ve tried to date.
KB: Mondelez owns them now, which explains the national reach.
See also: Coca-Cola and Honest Tea
KP: I have another pick now, and I’m going with oatmeal-raisin cookies, specifically the thin and crispy ones (again) from Trader Joe’s. Sure there are the popular brands like Grandma’s, but Trader Joe’s has engineered many of their products in clear plastic tubs, and seeing that visible trove of cookies is rather inspiring—inspiring to eat and not stop even after you’ve been satiated.
Anyways, our family nerd out for TJ’s oatmeal-raisin cookies
KB: I love oatmeal raisin cookies but I know they are divisive.
Alright, another non-name-brand entry: Gingersnaps
With a glass of milk, I estimate I could eat give or take six dozen of these.
I love the spice profile of the best ones, where the ginger is almost caramelized and melding with brown sugar and butter. Few cookies achieve this complexity without getting too over-the-top.
DSM: Ginger is such an interesting cookie taste, whenever it pops up.
KB: Should be more prevalent, imho.
DSM: Also, we’ve all talked a lot about a good bite and snap in a cookie, so I’m going to wander over to the other side for a moment now, with by far the most old-man thing I keep in my home regularly: Fig Newtons. While “fig paste” is the exact opposite of an attractive-sounding item, I love these so much. They’re a one-bite cookie, which is an underrated virtue when done well, and as long as they’re still fresh, the aforementioned paste makes for a really refreshing filling. It’s also a taste profile you don’t really ever get out of cookies.
KP: ooh good one
KB: I can’t remember the last time I had a Fig Newton. You’ve inspired me, Dom.
DSM: Glad to bang the drum.
And for my final pick in our cookie draft, I have to go with an item that I can’t really tie to any one brand in particular: the peanut butter sugar cookie. To distinguish, this is different from your Nutter Butters (which were on my shortlist, don’t get me wrong), or even your PB-flavored Chips Ahoy and whatever else have you. These are the sugar cookies you get right from the bakery, with that soft middle and light snap around the edges, with enough peanut butter to get the flavor across without drying out your mouth. I’m hardly opposed to a great sugar cookie, for that matter, but the peanut butter variant is always the key, at least as long as you’re able to indulge.
KB: I endorse that message.
It’s surprising to me there’s not a better mass-produced PB cookie.
Does anyone remember Planters PB Crisps? RIP.
KP: Never had them. But now I’m intrigued
KB: They were so great, like little cookie bites filled with PB. They’ve been discontinued, tragically.
Alright, for my final pick, because I can’t let my team go without a peanut butter pick myself: Tagalongs
I always thought those were perhaps the greatest Girl Scout cookie, above even Thin Mints, or at least dead even in my heart.
They’re melty-creamy, but with a surprising shatter of a PB cookie base. Good texture, classic chocolate and PB combo. Almost the candy of cookies.
KP: Excellent pick. My final pick is something not enough people may have tried, but they may be America’s most beloved cult favorite: Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies.
Chocolate. Butterscotch bits. Chips. Pretzels. Graham cracker. Coffee grounds!
KB: I am a big fan of cookies with crumbled potato chips or pretzels in them, yes.
KP: It’s everything I want, literally and figuratively, in a cookie.
Who won? Please vote now!