Toll House Cookies

Tastes and smells can be highly evocative of memory.  I think science has pretty much proven that these senses are hardwired into your memory.

I had an experience of this today.

Snow used to be special to me.  I grew up in Virginia, where it didn’t snow often and when it did, it meant a holiday from school, sledding, an icy butt because few people owned water-resistant snow pants, and…

Toll House Cookies

A snow day meant Toll House Cookies.   Looking back, I realize it was a way for mom to keep us occupied when we were sick with excitement from the snow, and chilled to the bone from being too wet and not wanting to come in from the cold1.   She would get us to go down into the basement and strip out of sopping wet cold snow things, hang them in front of the wood stove to dry and we’d change into warm dry clothes.  Being quick and efficient about this meant a reward of a spoonful of raw cookie dough.

I took a taste of the cookie dough today as my son and I were making toll house cookies in celebration (for him) or consolation (for me)2 of the first snowfall of the year.   When I’m tasting something and want to concentrate, I tend to close my eyes.    As I did so today, I was right back in my mother’s kitchen, asking her if the spoonfuls of cookie dough were the right size to make good cookies, smelling the chocolate, sugar and vanilla, and anxiously staring into the window on the oven waiting for the melty cookies to solidfy and be ready to eat all warm and gooey.  I remember being glad that Mom’s mixer had two beaters, as my brother and I were allowed to lick the beater when the cookie dough was all mixed up.  My Kitchen Aid only has one, so if one child gets to lick the beater, the other is allowed to scrape the bowl.

Toll House cookies were such a favorite in the household that Mom always baked a batch with the other Christmas cookies, so that’s another good memory I tend to have associated with them.  In fact, I don’t think I have a bad memory associated with making them.   They’ll always mean wintertime coziness with loved ones to me.


1Northerners, don’t laugh. Those snow pants we buy every year for our kids are simply not an appropriate use of money when they’ll be used at most twice before the child is too big to wear them. It’s a considerably different proposition when the kid is walking a mile to school in the snow every day for four months out of the year.

2Snow used to be magical to me, even when I first moved up here. Almost nine years on and the magic has worn off a bit. Now it just means shoveling driveways and dangerous driving to me. I should take up skiing or something to return to a more positive view.

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