A summer or two ago it was the great ice cream war. Bob's vs. Steve's vs. Haagen-Daaz vs. Swenson's vs. you- name-it. Swedish, French, Italian, Ethiopian -- the search for the recherch,e ices grew more intense, as did the competition to provide them. Hopeful ice cream moguls roamed the earth's exotic bazaars -- risking God knows what alien parasite, what devastating and hitherto unknown bug (unfortunately impervious to penicillin) -- to bring us the best the Baghdad souk (to take a random example) might offer. A simple Italian ice, tasty as it might be, would no longer do, and a new breed of international explorers came briefly into their hour. In search of a new flavor-of-the-week, they would stop at nothing, or at least no mere geographical boundary held them in heck.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, crowds of the ice-cream-crazed roamed Wisconsin and Connecticut avenues, armed with cash and driven by an overwhelming sugarlust that was almost Greek in its intensity. What Uzzolo wouldn't satisfy, Urban Outfitters could. Awesome, as they say.

But all that has changed. Oh, true, ice cream is still being purveyed at various establishments along this avenue or that, though Uzzolo never did give in, placing its bets on the halogen bulb instead, but it's simply not the same. You can't eat a lightbulb, for one thing, even if it comes in an Italian lamp, and the crowds are listless. Flavors like "My Sin," "Mathilde's Mango Macadamia," "Carob Honey Caramel (All Natural)" fail to arouse them, no matter how high the price, how foreign the fruit, how intense the flavor. As far as ice cream is concerned, the old glint in the eye has gone. Perhaps the tofu put it out.

But not to worry. America has come home again -- at least part way. The craze is cookies. That is what arouses the fickle passion of the populace, what causes them to risk crossing the avenue while the cars shoot through the red light. I do not, needless to say, refer to your standard Nabisco Oreo. Nor do I refer to the cookies mother used to bake, if indeed Mother did bake cookies; perhaps she just sliced them off the frozen roll that the supermarkets have been good enough to provide these many years and popped them in the oven, pretending the while. No, I refer to the cookies mother might have made if her name were David or Larry (which tells us something in itself, I'm not sure quite what -- that sex roles have seriously changed, perhaps), even Mrs. Fields, which sounds reassuringly like the nice lady across the street in the old television sit-com. Now those people know how to make cookies.

But let met tell you, cookie mavens, what it was like back in the real old days, before David or Larry discovered the chocolate chip, the macadama nut and the coffee walnut chip (when cookies were still the provenance of Mom or Mrs. Fields and we could hardly wait to outgrow them). In those days we used to worry about -- you won't believe this -- the gin martini, whether the martini should be shaken or stirred, and which technique would be less likely to bruise the gin. That's right: bruise the gin. Also of course, we debated the relative merits of the olive, the twist and the cocktail onion. In those days we could hardly wait to graduate from the childhood world of milk and cookies and enter the grownup world of gin. It turned out to be bad for the liver, among other things -- like the memory. Now we're back to milk and cookies. If Mom won't make them, David will.