The Gigantic, Awesome Cookie Contest
The whole town was involved this time. There had been many contests in the past, too many to count, and often many of the townspeople were part of the effort. The reason was simple enough: they were proud of their little town, one of the smallest in the smallest county of the state and not far from Kennebunkport. Sure, that town got all the attention, especially because of you-know-who, who called it home, but Salmon Plate was just as great a town, they all thought. They were very patriotic, and so when they did anything they could usually count on a major effort. Of course, they all wanted to put Salmon Plate on the map. Seriously, it was not on any map known, and that seemed like some kind of insult to the citizens. This was their big chance.
They weren’t sure who had gotten this contest going; all they knew is that someone in Kennebunkport had proposed it, and everyone knew why: they imagined that their city was the best in Maine and would undoubtedly win the contest; it would be another notch on their belt. The gauntlet had been thrown down and the Salmon Platers had picked it up. They would prove once and for all that they were the best town and get on the map at the same time. You might wonder about the name of the town, which refers back to a famous event before the town was founded. The biggest Salmon ever caught (130 pounds) was fished from the creek at Salmon Plate. Only, it never got into the record books because it was eaten before being verified. The people sold tickets for salmon plate dinners, and with that money founded their town.
They were extra sure that they would win this contest because of their secret ingredient. See, it was not just the size—it would definitely be the biggest—but once a judge bit into that cookie, she wouldn’t be able to say that any other was bigger or better. Well, as I said, the whole town was involved this time, all one-hundred and forty-seven of them; and even a few dogs, pulling wagons. They ordered most of the ingredients from a company that routinely delivered to all of the cities and towns along the coast. Only the secret ingredient came from a local supply.
Since the town was so patriotic, they agreed quickly that the cookie would be decorated with the flag, necessitating a ton of colored sprinkles. It would be red, white, and blue. The cookie would actually be a combination of thousands of smaller cookies, baked in conventional ovens and then “assembled” on a giant platter in the town square, where the heat of the sun would melt the individual cookies into one gigantic, awesome cookie. There was nothing in the rules about that, as long as it worked and was essentially one cookie when finished. This also made it easier to make the flag design, as each cookie was part of a schematic figured out by the one mathematical person in the town, the mercantile owner.
Before the contest, every resident of Salmon Platter was to go the creek with a net. Fortunately, the contest deadline was right after the great salmon run, which happened every year. The creek would be brimming with salmon then. Now, if you are wondering what salmon have to do with cookies, you have stumbled onto the secret ingredient. Yes, that’s right, salmon, and that is not as strange as you might imagine. Salmon cakes and chocolate chip cookies are an old favorite in many places along the coast.
Anyway, everyone pitched in on the special day and the banks of the creek, as well as the waters, were alive with activity. All went well. Later, not one person could be seen on the streets, because all were hard at work in their homes baking cookies. Men and children helping their wives, and a few men doing the baking themselves. All night long and into the next day they labored to turn salmon, chocolate chips, and other ingredients into cookies. Of course, the supplies had been piled up outside of every house, mountains of flour and baking powder and cartons of milk, and chocolate chips, and—well, you get the idea. They gradually dwindled and empty sacks of flour and what-not piled up in their place. Every pickup truck was utilized, every cart, every trailer, and even little red wagons to get the cookies to the community center, which sat alongside the town square. I’m telling you, the undertaking was absolutely massive. Success was the result.
The gigantic, awesome cookie was growing in the town square on a platter especially made for that purpose by the town’s welder. The cookie would stretch twenty-five feet across when complete—the leaders were confident that the mercantile owner’s math had been exact. Eight-thousand, three-hundred and forty-one and one-half cookies would go into it.
The work was tedious, but the people persevered and morale was high. It so happened that the “Day of the Cookie,” as they had been calling the event, was an extremely hot day. This was strange weather for this time of year, in late May. On the other hand, heat was exactly what they needed to meld the small cookies into one gigantic, awesome cookie. The judges were to arrive with their tape measures at noon the next day. Everyone congratulated themselves on a great job when the last cookie was laid and they stood back, admiring the flag design. It was truly awesome! Finally, they all went back to their homes and plopped into beds, every last man, woman, and child.
The people could hardly be blamed for sleeping late the next day. Actually, a few children were up early, but not one of them woke his or her parents. The mayor was probably the first one up, because the contest meant even more to her, considering her position. The sun had been up now for a few hours and it was another hot day. As she approached the square, she noticed a few dogs there, rubbing their noses in the dirt. “Strange,” she thought. Usually dogs couldn’t wait to get to any fish if it was not carefully guarded. The cookie pan had, of course, been put up on a platform where they could not satisfy their natural gluttony. At the same time that she was coming to the square, a van rolled up off the highway. The contest judges were here! They hopped out, and so she went to greet them. It so happened that the wind was blowing away from where they stood, out to sea today. That probably accounted for why they couldn’t smell the cookie. The day before it had smelled wonderful.
But as they all approached the town square, the gigantic, awesome cookie became impossible to ignore.
“Oh, my, what do you have there?” one of the judges asked. “It smells absolutely awful!” The other two judges nodded in agreement and pulled out handkerchiefs with which to cover their noses.
“I’m sorry, mayor,” the one in the lead said, “but we can’t possibly get any closer without passing out. What did you ever put into that cookie?” As fast as they had come, they left.
By then, everyone else was navigating to the square, and many were holding their noses, because the wind seemed to have shifted. It took many days to dispose of the cookie, in shifts because no one could work on it for longer than an hour. And it took years for the town to live down the story carried far and wide about their “gigantic, awesome, stinking cookie.” And they never entered another contest. In fact, it became a misdemeanor in that town to even mention the "Year of the Cookie."