After dinner, the hostess was putting out desserts when she noticed another guest holding up the pack of Berger cookies I had brought, scanning the ingredients.
“I know,” the hostess said, “not the healthiest dessert here, riiiight?”
I should have seen this reaction coming. After all, on my first date with Liz, I presented her with a cellophane-draped box of cookies. They were a litmus test of sorts, a way of gauging if she, a lifelong resident of the D.C. area, had enough “Bawlmer” in her. She failed miserably on that front, merely scanning the ingredients before handing them back to me (though she helped make up for it with her prowess at darts).
The hostess picked up one of the Berger cookies herself. “Now that’s a bit, umm, daunting,” she said, cautiously turning it over in her fingers.
I had flashbacks of this dinner party when I discovered Berger cookies in a Giant Food store near my new home this past winter. Immediately, I wanted to buy every pack and take them home, where they would always, always be duly appreciated. Soon after, I discovered that Bergers have been penetrating the D.C. market, mostly through Giant stores, over the past year or so. Beginning this summer, they’ll start cropping up at Safeways. (Bergers have appeared on shelves in some small area shops and delis for a few years.)
Why the recent southward migration?
“Because there’s a lot of money down there,” says Berger owner Charles DeBaufre Jr. “And it’s close enough that these gas prices won’t kill me.”
While I don’t begrudge DeBaufre the chance to make a buck, I do worry if Washington can ever fully appreciate the Berger cookie. After all, this is the same city that earned top honors as healthiest in the country, three years running, in the annual American Fitness Index. And it’s the same city that the legendary French bakery Paul (the same Paul that bakes some of its rustic breads for seven hours) fingered to open its flagship American bakery. Is this cosmopolitan region really ready to embrace a cookie that admittedly looks as if its fudge creme topping was slapped on by 5-year-olds hopped up on Mountain Dew?
Perhaps what Washingtonians need to appreciate this iconic confection is proper entree, a primer of sorts.