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BEST STATE FAIR FOOD Minneapolis 2002 - Sweet Martha's Cookies

Readers' Choice: Cheese Curds

The God's honest truth: Sweet Martha's chocolate-chip cookies are manufactured and marketed by Mrs. Martha Rossini Olson, a beloved elementary-school art teacher at Highland Catholic in St. Paul. No one is disputing that this woman exists, and that it is her diligence and culinary genius that is behind the state fair's favorite cookie. The facts are the facts. But the allure of these things lies not just in the individual bliss energy of each warm, chewy pleasure unit, but in the outlandish volume of disks that comes with each order ($3.50 for a small order, $4.50 for a large). Have you ever counted how many cookies those fresh-faced, besmocked youngsters cram into each conical cup? If you just answered two hundred, you're lowballing it. A thousand, you say? Well, you're getting close. And don't even talk about the $10 plastic-bucket size. It's a bloody Eighth Wonder of the World how many cookies go into each cookie tower, an aberration of Newtonian physics. Looking at the assembled evidence, you may very well have arrived at the same theory that we have. Call it rumor, call it speculation. Call it a flat-out fabrication. But just try to deny that the following explanation for the origin of Sweet Martha's cookies doesn't sound a little more credible than the Catholic School Teacher mythology. Let's say that "Sweet Martha" was a lady of the evening in the frontier settlement known as Pig's Eye. And let's say that, as a shrewd ruse, she started telling her moonshine-besotted johns that they could have their jollies for half the usual freight if they first ate every cookie placed on her bare, doughy body. And let's say that Shrewd Martha contrived to make a feast of cookies so enormous as to dull any hunger for a meal of lady-flesh. Go ahead and say what you're thinking: History is written by liars. But that would sure explain the big portions, no? And who has an appetite for scrupulous accuracy, anyway?

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