The past 21 years of my life can be characterized as a series of overzealous pursuits to find the nearest chocolate chip cookie and eat it. Throughout the years, I’ve learned how to bake them (my best advice is to use extra vanilla extract, toss in some old-fashioned oats, and sprinkle the cookies with sea salt after baking), get others to bake them for me (Mom, I’m looking at you), and buy them (I like a good box of Entenmann’s). If a chocolate chip cookie is not readily available to me, I tend to feel uneasy. One day last weekend, I got a burst of inspiration to bake them, only to discover that my pantry was devoid of chocolate chips, and Weshop was closed. In a frenzy, I asked my housemate (the lovely Features Editor Emma Smith ’22) to borrow her car and sped to Price Chopper to purchase three large bags of chocolate chips. The cookies were made and promptly consumed by me and my housemates.
Naturally, my fixation with chocolate chip cookies means that I have strong opinions about their quality. They must never be over-baked. They must not lack in flour. The chip-to-dough ratio must be impeccable. And to quote our president, Michael Roth ’78, “size does matter.”
Here at the University, there is a diverse variety of chocolate chip cookies. There are the ubiquitous Weshop/Usdan ones, wrapped in plastic and easily consumed in twos as a light dessert. There are the kosher cookies, also available at Usdan but distinctly different from the ones on the dessert trays. There are the Red and Black ones, which are rich, thick, and chewy. And there are the WesWings (’Swings) ones, which are ginormous and basically hunks of dough surrounded by crispy edges.
I’ve dabbled in all these varieties over the years at Wes, but it occurred to me recently that there’s not a clear favorite. All of them have their flaws, and all of them have their benefits. In an effort to pick a winner, I decided to undergo a taste test. I enlisted the help of my comrades and fellow cookie lovers Carly Blue ’22 and Julia Jurist ’22. We tested chocolate chip cookies from Red and Black, ’Swings, and two types from Usdan—one from the kosher station, one from the regular dessert station. Here are our opinions and ratings of each of them out of 10, from best to worst.
Red and Black
FINAL RATING: 7
Carly: Not my fave. They’re a little too cakey, but I like the abundance of chocolate chips. The edges look deceptively crispy, but they’re actually soft. I don’t mind the physical thickness, but the textural thickness gets to me and I don’t like it. I would eat it, but it’s not my ideal cookie texture.
Annie: These cookies are very thick and substantial. I like their boldness; they are unequivocal and unabashed in their size and density. There’s something plasticky about their flavor, though. Something of an artificial quality that’s not hitting me quite right. Also, this cookie alone could constitute a full meal. Even just after a few bites, my stomach is full.
Julia: This is a slightly less good version of the ’Swings cookie. I agree that it’s more cakey, taste- and texture-wise. This one just doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but I like the doughy, soft, and chewy texture.
FINAL RATING: 8
Carly: These cookies have a nice spattering of chocolate. The outside has more actual crunch, but the inside is literally just dough. I find it a little too extreme on the dough end, but I support the direction this cookie is going in. I especially like when the ’Swings cookies melt in your mouth, but this batch just isn’t doing that.
Annie: This particular ’Swings cookie is stiffer and more compact than usual. I think the doughy angle works better on thinner cookies. The thick doughy texture is a little much for me, it’s too heavy, especially after a ’Swings dinner. Also, having also had the ’Swings cookie dough, I feel like the taste is just the same as the cookie dough. So if that’s the case, what’s the point of eating the cookie? I will always have a soft spot for ’Swings cookies, though, and doubt I will ever frequent ’Swings without purchasing one. So extra points for that alone.
Julia: See, I like this kind of cookie the best. There’s a little bit of a salty flavor that I like. The doughiness factor seals the deal for me. *takes final bite of ’Swings cookie*
FINAL RATING: 8.3
Carly: These win for me. They’re soft, without being too doughy. They have a perfect crunch on their edges, and look more golden. When I bite into it, somehow I know that these are from the kosher station, but I can’t put my finger on why. It’s almost like the flavor is more nutty, even though I know the cookies don’t have nuts.
Annie: I agree. I like their size. The dough is heartier, and feels like a hug. These cookies would be ideal warmed up. I don’t have many complaints about these.
Julia: These are good, but not the best. They have an interesting flavor, very vanilla-y. The texture is kind of neutral. For me, these are nothing special.
FINAL RATING: 8.8
Carly: This chocolate ratio is fire. Like the kosher cookies, these are chewy without being doughy.
Julia: I also like the ratio of chocolate chips in these. But I prefer the doughier cookies. Usually I really like this, but compared with the others, this just isn’t doing it for me tonight.
Annie: These are just my all-time favorites. The quality of chocolate in these is by far superior to any other cookie we’ve tried tonight. These cookies satisfy my sweet tooth in a more profound way. They’re also super light, which is preferable and dangerous because it means I can easily consume four to five of them in one sitting. They’re the kind of cookies that just leave you going back for more because they’re the ultimate comfort. And what more could you ask for in a cookie?
As it turns out, the quality of chocolate chip cookies depends on each person’s own taste buds and their preferences. For Julia, doughiness was a key factor in the ’Swings cookies’ success. Carly raved over the crispy edges of the kosher cookies. For me, the Usdan cookies are the most classic, straightforward, and flavorful: the perfect sweet bite after a big pasta dinner or a bowl of fried rice.
I guess I’ll be thinking twice the next time I complain about Usdan, but in the meantime, I’ll still be eating a chocolate chip cookie at every dining location I attend.
Annie Roach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.