I confess. I was one of the original SLU Cookie Women.
The origins of this legend are shrouded by the mists of time.
Wow, I couldn’t even keep a straight face while I was typing that. The truth is, the origin of the Cookie Women is firmly embedded in a night of drinking, as are many late night activities in Canton.
Between the small, cold downtown area and the wooded, bucolic campus stood a P&C grocery store that was open 24 hours a day. We needed sustenance. We needed cookies. I believe our choice on that first night was Heyday Caramel Peanut Nut Logs. Ellen convinced us the second “nut” was needed to keep the cadence of the title in proper rhythm, and we readily agreed.
We were sophomores. We wouldn’t have had the nerve to pull it off if we had been freshman, and we wouldn’t have had time if we’d been seniors. Walking home, we decided it was imperative that we stop by Sykes Hall (which housed freshman men) to deliver cookies to my cousin Hal. Unfortunately, we woke his roommate up in the process, and probably everyone in a three-room radius.
We wrote the world’s most scathingly funny message on the milk carton and left it outside their door when we left. Sadly, not one of us could decipher what it said the next day, although we all agreed it was pithy and poignant and hilarious.
We stopped at another couple of rooms on our way back to Rebert, sharing our cookies with anyone we could convince to open the door to us.
The Cookie Women were born.
Shortly thereafter, we decided that store-bought cookies just were not good enough, so we found a dorm with a commons room that had an oven and went to work. I don’t think we ever started before 11 p.m. with the baking portion of the program, and even the drinking fell by the wayside in our zeal to bake and deliver fresh chocolate chip cookies to our friends.
We’d leave the kitchen after midnight, our route through the dorms carefully planned. We’d knock at someone’s door till they answered, sleepy and yawning and tousled, and give them fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies.
It was a great way to see guys we had crushed on in their pajamas, sure. But that wasn’t why we did it, and we had as many women on our list as men. It was the unpredictability and absurdity that appealed to us. People would tell us they thought they dreamt our visit, until they woke up and found cookies next to their pillow the next morning.
It was silly and exhausting and a lot of fun. Nobody ever got mad at us, although there were some people who wished they were on our list who never made it. “Cookie Women Rule” was scratched onto dining hall trays, and we had our own limited sort of fame that suited us well.
Every year, when it’s time to bake Christmas cookies, I think of the Cookie Women. I hope Donna, Ellen, Jane, Sharon and Janet are still baking chocolate chip cookies, and still keeping their friends on their toes in some small, absurd and completely enjoyable way.