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Is It Food, or Is It Foodiness? Well, What If Your Valentine Gave It to You?

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Valentine's Day isn't a day to worry about sugar, because technically, it's one of the few days a year when you should be eating a big pile of sugar. Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween. Not every day, as in, not in a big bowl of miniature fake french toast cereal at breakfast, not in a bottle of blue-flavored so-called sports drink. Not in a 32 oz. birthday-cake-flavored coffee-whizzer every afternoon. A few days a year for holidays. And one day a year, to show your love to your love, you give them a special treat. Some fancy chocolates in a heart-shaped box, a bunch of tulips, a new pair of expensive wool socks, that'd be nice.

But If they've started their day with say...a big bowl of strawberry-fauxgurt-nugget-clump cereal, then a few hours later they'll be crashing in a teary low blood-sugar heap at their desk.

What a way to start a Valentine's Day...girl, you'll be a mess by happy hour! But oh, since you share a cubicle with the grown-up version of the little girl who used to give everyone in the class a valentine, and she's been the thoughtful but lonely single girl who every year makes very special treats to bring into the insurance company office, so relief is on the way! And keeping with mainstream junk-snack trends, this year, she's made chocolate truffles! But not fancy, classy truffles, but oh-so-teenage-stoner style, cookie-dough-flavored-goo-filled chocolate truffles! Cookie dough is everywhere lately, in cupcakes and donuts and coffee creamer and cocktails, so why not?

Now, just to get it out in the open, before we continue, I must disclose here, that I don't really like truffles. Except maybe a really fine, small dark chocolate one, with the simplest of fillings, a coffee ganache or something. And it has nothing to do with sugar, or candy or foodiness or anything else I scream about weekly. I just don't really like the mouthfeel or taste of gooey, squishy-filled chocolates. I like chocolate--and I like gooey squishy things, I just don't like them enmeshed. And I really hate the overdeco'd, overly big, amped up truffles I've seen around lately. I used to like them-- when I was a chubster child, a creamy filled ball of chocolate was like heroin to me. But tastes change, people grow up. Except your cubicle mate.

And while I don't like truffles, I did, and still do really like cookies, especially homemade chocolate chip cookies, I mean, who doesn't? In our house, spotting that rare yellow bag of chocolate chips (technically called morsels, FYI, not chips) in the upper kitchen cabinet (where my mom thought she'd so cleverly hidden them), meant baking cookies, immediately. Freshly baked chocolate chip or other homemade cookies were a great treat, and required some planning and some work...which is why they were a treat. You had to make sure you had the ingredients, and then you actually had to mix the ingredients into dough. And then bake it, into cookies. Planning, process, execution, industry...THAT was America. We BAKED our cookies, mixed 'em by hand, baked 'em in the oven, dammit!

And as a tiny, sneaky little treat, part of baking homemade cookies meant also sneaking tiny little bits of raw cookie dough, which in itself was also a treat, albeit a potentially dangerous one, what with the raw eggs and all. But it was the '70s; life was full of risk then. I'd come home to an empty house most afternoons, spend entire days out on my bike with no cell phone, ride in other families' cars in the far back without a seat belt, sit in restaurants with people smoking, danger was everywhere.

A few bits of raw cookie dough just made us tougher, more immune and ready for the challenges of the Reagan years to come. Did I mention we'd eat TINY bits of raw cookie dough, because it was somewhat illicit, socially unacceptable behavior? I'll get back to that momentarily...

Because at some point something changed, and you didn't even have to make the dough anymore: refrigerated pre-made cookie dough was introduced. You could buy it in a shrink-wrapped log called "slice-n-bake", which after a few years became too taxing and physically challenging for most Americans because it involved measuring and holding a knife, so then they introduced pre-cut refrigerated cookie dough. All you had to do was put it on the baking sheet and put it in the oven. There! Homemade cookies in a snap! Grandma would be rolling over in her grave right about now if she weren't down at the casino gambling away her pension...And then I guess we just gave up the baking part altogether and just started eating raw dough. I mean, a lotta folks swear by a raw-foods diet, so maybe yet again, I'm the last to know? All those wasted years, baking my cookies...

So back to the insurance company office, where you've just hit your sugar crash, long about 10:30 this morning. And your cubicle mate, remember her? The one who who gave out donuts last year on Valentines Day? She's walking around the office, and she hands you a heart-shaped truffle. Aww, so sweet! So clever, heart-shaped! To remind you of all the damage the sugar is going to do to your heart? And is it a classic cognac truffle, dusted with bittersweet cocoa powder, or a simple raspberry-liqueur flavored one, enrobed in the shiniest couverture?

HELL no! Then what is it filled with? What else is there? Well, this truffle, this is a very special kind of Valentine's Day treat. This mouthful says I love you the most, because it's filled with raw cookie dough. Filled with cookie dough, glazed with chocolate and covered with tiny chocolate chips. Ta Da! Wow. Wait. Did you say it was filled with cookie dough? How can a candy be filled with cookie dough? Is it a candy or a cookie? I mean that's just crazy talk, filling a confection with a completely unrelated substance. That'd be like putting red velvet cake into...yogurt.

Cookie dough is an illicit, sneaky treat, something we pilfered in bits when mom wasn't looking. Something you weren't supposed to eat, that's what made it fun. It's why they don't legalize drugs, it takes the fun away. Cookie dough isn't a stand-alone food, it's a temporary phase of a substance, like water becoming ice or vapor, on its way to becoming something else. And it can become an endless variety of something else's. Just because you add chocolate chips one time, doesn't mean all cookie dough has chocolate chips in it; not all cookies are chocolate chip cookies, there's no law. This is America, we have certain inalienable rights and privileges and one of them is that we can flavor our cookie dough however we want to, especially in Colorado.

So is it a dough, or a filling, or just a flavor? It's a question that is almost Talmudic. Has cookie dough gone down the flavoring rabbit hole to where some group of foodiness flavoring-industry guys in lab coats all got together to decide on a unified version and standard agreement on what cookie dough flavor is and tastes like? A lowest common denominator, standardized agreement of the definitive flavor of cookie dough? Well, yeah. it has.

So what makes cookie dough flavor cookie-dough-flavored? Basically sugar and salt. The classic chocolate chip cookie recipe has a perfect balance of brown sugar and salt, to chocolate and butter. It's a perfect recipe, which is what makes them so addictive, and cookie dough flavor is that: brown sugar, salt, artificial butter flavor, and chocolate flavor. And it's not just the V-day truffles showing up with the hottest flavor since birthday cake flavor and pumpkin spice flavors peaked late last year, all kinds of cookie dough-flavored foodiness nightmares are hitting the big time. Our research team (me) uncovered a few more choice morsels (sorry) while researching this piece and here's what we (I) found.

I thought cookie dough had just kind of hovered there outside the oven for years, only as an ice-cream add-in, I had no idea that the actual dough had disappeared down the flavoring rabbit hole, only to pop-up in a million different places. Like cookie dough vodka, of course. Everything finds its way into a bottle of vodka these days, especially that girl in your office...and there's cookie dough-flavored coffee creamer, and cookie dough-flavored syrups for coffee and lattes, and chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored breakfast toaster pastries, which is crazy meta weird because that's cookie-flavored pastry, and then I found cookie-dough flavored extract, for baking. So you can flavor your cookies, with cookie flavor. Cookie-flavored cookie extract, is a chicken and egg puzzle. How do you get the cookie flavor out of the cookies if you need the flavor first to flavor the cookies? My brain hurts from too much sugar now.

And that's just the edible stuff, or the so-called food products. We also found cookie dough-flavored toothpaste for kids, because that develops good dental hygiene habits, and cookie dough-flavored protein powder for bodybuilders, which is good because bodybuilders are really just overgrown toddlers who want to hog the sandbox, and cookie dough-flavored protein bars for the ladies who still eat like teenage girls, and then, for the real "adults" in your life, who need "adult" products, because they are "adults" and have "adult" tastes, there's cookie dough-flavored sex lube, and the best one of all, the one I cannot believe is even real, but is, cookie dough flavored e-cigarette liquid for vaping.

So, this Valentine's Day, if you really want to show your love, you too should pass around a box of heart-shaped cookie-dough-filled treats. Because nothing says "I love you" like a sugary treat shaped just like the organ you are intentionally destroying with its consumption. Valentines for everyone! Smooch.