In keeping with a 20-year-long tradition that has now spanned six presidential elections, the first lady and FLOTUS hopeful Ann Romney ripped off their oven mitts last week to compete in an illuminating and somewhat controversial alternative to the traditional Gallup poll: Family Circle Magazine's Presidential Cookie Bake-Off. The recipe contest, which enlists candidates’ spouses to submit their best cookie recipe for a Facebook electorate’s judgment, began as a damage control effort by Hillary Clinton during the 1992 election, after she was lambasted for ostensibly condescending to cookie-baking women across America. Still, there are prophetic political truths to be learned from this high-stakes cookie competition.
For example, every Presidential Bake-Off winner (with the exception of Cindy McCain) subsequently secured the coveted seat in the East Wing. Furthermore, trend analysis of the bake-off’s previous winning recipes reveals a critical secret ingredient: good, old-fashioned oats. From Cindy McCain’s oatmeal-butterscotch cookies to Laura Bush’s oatmeal chocolate chunks, oat-containing confections have consistently beat out their non-oatsy competitors.
But why oats? Have Americans internalized whole-grain advocacy? Does the lumpy aesthetic and make us feel like candidates understand our plight as common folk? (As an aside, even oatmeal cookies tend to be loaded with saturated fat-laden ingredients (namely butter, and in Romney’s recipe, chocolate)—a delicious reality that likely offsets oats’ heart-healthy virtues.)
Whatever the answer, Michelle Obama seems to be ignoring it. Despite losing to Cindy McCain in 2008 with a shortbread recipe, the first lady has once again thumbed her nose at the oat-favoring precedent by presenting a dark and white chocolate chip recipe. Not a single oat in sight! What’s more, the health-championing first lady chose a doozy of a fat source in the form of butter-flavored Crisco, which, despite a recent trans-fat free overhaul, is sure to turn off voters who associate shortening with cholesterol catastrophe.