Cookie decorator Judy A. Hall shows off a tray of sugar cookies at Brinkman’s Country Corner. A third-grade class from Cincinnati has introduced a bill, and will testify this week at the statehouse, arguing for designating the sugar cookie Ohio’s official state cookie. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By SARA ARTHURS

Staff Writer

Ohio could soon have an official state cookie, and area bakers think that’s pretty sweet.

On May 6, state Reps. Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park, and Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati, introduced House Bill 235, which would make the sugar cookie Ohio’s official state cookie.

The bill came at the request of a third-grade class at All Saints School in Cincinnati. The students wrote their representatives to say that, after reading about how the chocolate chip cookie became Massachusetts’ state cookie, they realized Ohio didn’t have a designated cookie.

The third-graders argued that the sugar cookie would be a good choice, as pioneers in the area had traded their goods for sugar, “which was considered a treat. Consequently, enjoying a sugar cookie was thought of as having something special to eat.” And, the students wrote, there are so many variations of the sugar cookie that “most everyone in our state has a favorite.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that “The bill sets minimal criteria for a ‘sugar cookie’ “” sugar, flour, butter, eggs and vanilla. Within that framework, a sugar cookie with sprinkles or a red iced sugar cookie or even a snickerdoodle would count.”

So what do those who bake Findlay’s cookies think?

“Of course we should have a state cookie,” said Elaine Bruggeman, owner of Main Street Deli. “Cookies make the world go ’round.”

And, she said, why not the sugar cookie? After all, it could be “so many things.”

At Main Street Deli, turtle and monster cookies are the most popular, she said. But it’s a different story entirely at the holidays: “Everybody wants a frosted sugar cookie at Christmas.”

Mark Wiechart, manager of Brinkman’s Country Corner, said that, since “we have an official state almost everything,” why not cookies, too?

He said the sugar cookie is the most popular cookie at Brinkman’s. Staff make and decorate their own sugar cookies, but the store also carries another sugar cookie made elsewhere. They don’t hear a lot of comments about them, “but the fact that we sell so many of them speaks volumes,” he said.

Lisa Allen, owner of The Baker’s Cafe, said she wasn’t sure of the purpose of having a state cookie, but “it sounds fun.”

Her initial thought for Ohio’s state cookie would be a buckeye cookie, which her bakery offers, or maybe a chocolate chip cookie. But, “we love all kinds of cookies here.”

Baker’s Cafe offers a soft buttermilk sugar cookie, as well as a cutout cookie. Allen said she learned online that one can get cookie cutters 3-D printed into any shape. This is helpful information, as she has had some “odd shapes” requested over the years.

“I would think the sugar cookie would be a good cookie,” said Kathy Taber, baker at We Serve. Coffee.

She said she makes a batch or two of sugar cookies every week, with 80 or 90 cookies in each batch. The cookies are topped with cream cheese frosting.

Yes, Taber said, people in Findlay are passionate about cookies.

“I think the sugar cookie would be a fun cookie for Ohio. … It can be simple but it can be fancy,” she said, adding that the same is true of the Midwest itself.

Kelley McClurkin, owner of Bread Kneads, said there is a lot of conflict in our country, and perhaps a state cookie is something we could all agree on.

As for the choice of sugar cookie, she too had initially thought of a buckeye variety, but said she would back the sugar cookie.

“I’m not going to argue with third-graders,” McClurkin said. “I think it’s an amazing idea.”

At Bread Kneads, chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies are the most popular. But, McClurkin said, some people don’t like chocolate or cinnamon, but “everyone likes a sugar cookie.” Bread Kneads offers a buttermilk soft sugar cookie, a recipe developed by the grandmother of one long-time baker.

McClurkin, too, said Findlay in general is a cookie-friendly town. Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week as well as National Nurses Week, and “the amount of cookies that have gone out the door” for orders — while less than over the holidays — is not small. People like other sweets too, but cookies are “the go-to,” she said.

Kelly, one of the two representatives who introduced the legislation, said people have a “very strong reaction to this cookie bill,” and she has gotten quite a bit of feedback.

She said the third-graders outlined their reasons why the sugar cookie would be the best choice.

“It’s like any other constituent that has a suggestion for a piece of legislation,” she said.

And Kelly said this experience is getting young Ohioans familiar with the legislative process. The children will come and testify this week about the reasons for their choice, and may learn that “you can have an impact” in your state, “no matter how old you are.”

Miranda, a representative and also a former school board president, said children working on project-based learning is meaningful to her. And, this is also a chance for the students to “learn about what it really takes” to come to Columbus and testify, and convince her colleagues in the House.

“They’ve done all the research,” she said.

Miranda said having the students come to testify is “going to be very fun. … The whole school, I believe, is shutting down for this. This is huge for them.”

She said states make designations like this for historical reasons, and “it means something.”

Miranda said another representative mentioned she might even introduce an amendment: to take out vanilla.

As for Kelly’s personal favorite cookie? “I do not discriminate,” she said. But if the sugar cookie becomes Ohio’s state cookie, “That’s going to move to No. 1 on my list.”

Miranda noted that she had told another reporter her favorite was snickerdoodles, but then was envious of Kelly’s answer: “That’s right, I love all cookies.” But snickerdoodles are Miranda’s favorite sugar cookie variation.

As Bruggeman put it, “I vote for the sugar cookie. And everybody should eat one today.”

Arthurs: 419-427-8494

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Twitter: @swarthurs

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