2366: Amelia's Farm Fresh Cookies

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Amelia's Farm Fresh Cookies
I told her I'd take her address off the packaging if she'd stop submitting anonymous food safety complaints about my bakery to the health department, but she sent me a note that said NO DEAL along with an extra large batch of cookies.
Title text: I told her I'd take her address off the packaging if she'd stop submitting anonymous food safety complaints about my bakery to the health department, but she sent me a note that said NO DEAL along with an extra large batch of cookies.

Explanation[edit]

The comic portrays the back side of a box of cookies (evidenced by the nutrition facts-style table on the left side). Many brands have a romanticized origin story on their packaging explaining the name or how they have a secret ingredient. Instead, this brand's origin story is tale of petty one-upmanship as the brand's founder sets out to prove that her cookies are better than her grandmother's.

Grandma's cookies were apparently very fragile and crumbly. They also had "gooey exteriors and slightly crisp interiors." Normally items bake from the exterior in, so how the interior had gotten crisp and the exterior hadn't is not explained (maybe Grandma "bakes" them in a microwave oven?). Grandma's cookies also had a "mysterious gritty texture", perhaps from sand getting into the flour from the stone grinders, that was unpleasant to Amelia.

To complete her revenge, the "story" contains the grandmother's address. Creating false addresses for their mascots is often used as a publicity stunt for children to write testimonials to the brand's PR or marketing department. However, here it appears to be Amelia's actual Grandma's actual address, the goal being for her to receive thousands of letters on a regular basis about how her granddaughter's cookies are so great, while jabbing "unlike yours!"

In retaliation, Amelia's grandmother has started submitting (presumably bogus) food safety complaints about Amelia's bakery to the health department in a ploy to overburden the bakery with unnecessarily frequent inspections. At one point Amelia eventually decided to offer a truce, which her grandmother emphatically rejected, underscoring it by sending Amelia an extra-large batch of the cookies she knows Amelia hates.

While the name of the city past the first letter and at least one of the zip code digits is too illegible to read, by process of elimination it is plausible that the city is Orlando and the zip code is 32891 (or less likely, 32861). No other location in Florida consists of one word starting with O and a zip code legibly close to the one in the comic.

Transcript[edit]

[What looks like the back of a package of cookies is shown.]
[Top left: Product logo.]
Amelia's Farm-Fresh Cookies
[Parts of an oval surround the logo]
[Middle left: What appears to be a standard Nutrition Facts panel, though the details are illegible squiggles]
[Bottom left: What appears to be an ingredients list, though the details are illegible squiggles, and a few other squiggles]
[Right side:]
Our Story
Growing up on my grandma's farm, I spent so many cozy mornings in the kitchen, watching her take trays of fresh-baked cookies from the oven.
Her cookies were just awful.
She used the finest ingredients. Eggs straight from the coop, stone-ground flour, hand-churned butter. But she squandered them. It's so sad. She told me I was too picky, but I know what cookies are supposed to taste like.
When I started a bakery, I vowed not to repeat her mistakes. These cookies won't fall apart in your hands. They have gooey centers, and slightly crisp exteriors, not the other way around, Grandma. There's no mysterious gritty texture. Why would there be?
If you enjoy these cookies, please write to my grandma to let her know.
Thanks!
Amelia
[A partially legible squiggled address appears at the bottom left of the Our Story part of the box. The bracketed dashes represent portions that are illegible.]
Ms W[——] M[——]
1[—] A[——] Ln
O[——], FL 328[–]1


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Discussion

Personally, I think the most likely digit there is 4, followed by 6. I'm pretty sure it can't be a 9 given the angles, so I wouldn't say that's likelier than other alternatives in the explanation. (Very trivial point, so I won't bother editing.) It's most likely intended to be a generic nonsense squiggle (similar to the lines of text, but for just one character), purposely illegible to leave the actual location within Orlando ambiguous. It just happened to come out as a very 4ish squiggle.162.158.79.189 16:25, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

32841 is not a valid zip code. I'm also dubious that the town/city name is Orlando. Sure, it probably does start with an O (and not a cursive A, since the street name has a capital A to show the way the letter should look), but it certainly doesn't continue on long enough to be Orlando, especially with no ascending stroke for the 'd' and not appearing to end with a round shape for a letter like 'o'. It appears to me to be more of an n/m/r final letter. 162.158.75.14 23:19, 30 September 2020 (UTC)

Ah, that's what I get for just punching "32841 zip code" into Google and seeing Orlando FL come up. The closest-looking valid zip code I can find that's still in Orlando is 32891; fixed the transcript. The end of the word Orlando just seems intended to be generic squiggles not actually matching any letters, like almost everything after the Ingredients label. If you can find another town/city in FL that starts with O and has a similar-looking enough zip code, go for it. Zowayix (talk) 23:59, 30 September 2020 (UTC)
All zip codes that begin 328 are in Orlando. 32841 specifically is not in use. Silverpie (talk) 02:12, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
It seems impossible to read the zip code as anything other than [3][2 or 4][6 or 8][squiggle][1], where the squiggle is different from the other 4 digits and probably isn't a 0. Under these constraints, there are 20 possible zip codes, but if the zip has to be valid and the city name has to be one word that starts with O and in Florida, the only possible choices are Orlando and 32891 or 32861. To keep the transcript faithful to the actual appearance, I'll let it stay as "O[illegible], FL 328#1" and put the city and zip deduction in the explanation. Zowayix (talk) 01:45, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

I don't see that the mouse-over suggests an escalation as described. BunsenH (talk) 00:23, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

I saw it as "had address on packaging, just so; grandma starts campaign of complaints to give granddaughter a similar experience; granddaughter suggests stopping original action if that would stop granny's retalation; (but apparently an armistice purely on those terms is not acceptable to Big-G)" - But there's other interpretations, I'll admit. 141.101.98.154 00:45, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
That's how I saw it too -- no suggestion that the package didn't originally have the address. BunsenH (talk) 01:17, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Isn't this a reference to the Annie's brand?

"Annie Withey believed it was possible to build a socially conscious and successful business. This was her mission in 1989, when she wrote her name, address, and phone number on the very first boxes of Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Her legacy lives on as Annie’s strives to change the future for our kids, starting with food." per https://www.annies.com/our-mission/ . So maybe? BunsenH (talk) 03:59, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
I am pretty sure Annie's brand has a story on the label

I didn't get the clues pointing that it's a package and mistakenly thought it was a cooking recipe web page. Many sites feel obliged to precede the recipe with a personal story on the food, which distracts from what the reader wants -- the recipe itself. I'd been a good comic as well if it was a pun on that. 172.68.94.50 03:44, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

I didn't interpret it as a package of the cookies, either. To me it looked like the company's ("Amelia's Farm") website and I interpreted the "nutrition facts" table as the site's menu. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 10:35, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
For readers in the USA, it's more obviously a Nutritional Facts box - the varied weight of horizontal lines and the Percentage (%) symbol at the end of each line is standard.108.162.216.250 21:04, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
Tip: the word you're looking for is "parody" rather than pun. Zowayix (talk) 01:52, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Anyone else think the additional squiggles at the bottom left include a circle K (Kosher) and Parve (containing neither meat nor milk) which would be plausible for cookies (and could easily anger some grandmothers)? If so, is it worth adding to the transcript?108.162.219.212 12:10, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

On magnification, it just looks like random squiggles to me. The letter in the circle looks like a lowercase "i", which is not (as far as I know) the symbol for any kosher certification. Shamino (talk) 13:42, 1 October 2020 (UTC)
It could just as easily be some impression of a trademark or copyright or any other of the many circle-like designations on food packages.

Upon reading the address I immediately thought that the city was Orlando and that granny's name was "Wanda Munroe". 162.158.74.43 13:16, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Per the editing FAQ, we use the smaller version of the comic here. But perhaps we should always include a link to the high-res version when one is available? Though it doesn't quite fit under either "Transcript" or "Explanation". BunsenH (talk) 19:44, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

I think the city's actually Ocala and Randal didn't even try to match the city to the zip code. (Too many L's!) RandalSchwartz (talk) 21:16, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

This seems unlikely given how everything after the O is squiggled and there's another much more well-known candidate with a zip code that's much closer to matching. Zowayix (talk) 01:45, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Just what was her grandmother doing to get cookies like that? To get cookies that are crumbly and brittle, Grandma cooked her cookies for too long at too high a temperature, driving too much water out. The gritty texture can be achieved by not using enough water in the batter to start with; put the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl set at too high a speed, add the water all at once (but not enough to hydrate all the flour particles) and mix it for too long. This should form lots of fine lumps to give a gritty texture. To get the crispy middle and gooey outside, use way too much fats, like the butter, and don't let it evenly distribute in the batter, so that when it melts in the oven, the fats ooze out and soften the edges, but Grandma would have had to add extra water after the initial mixing, so the conversion of steam will dry out the middle and put the fat out. Okay, I am reaching a bit with the last one. You have got to do a lot of things wrong to make cookies that bad. Nutster (talk) 03:17, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Using specialty flours can do some of it. I tried using non-wheat flours to make gluten-free cookies a couple of decades ago, with mixed success. They tended to come out brittle and crumbly, and if I recall correctly, tapioca flour gave them a certain grittiness. BunsenH (talk) 03:44, 2 October 2020 (UTC)
You'd get a gritty quality if you also made sure you used only the finest farmyard grit... 162.158.158.247 14:12, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Finally, the first xkcd to address the issue of GMO antibacterials head on

First question, is oatmeal involved? 172.69.22.96 03:23, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Reference to "Cookie Clicker" seems unlikely to me. BunsenH (talk) 15:00, 3 October 2020 (UTC)

I agree and removed that part. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:35, 5 October 2020 (UTC)

When I first read the comic, I read the first paragraph, thought "oh, another story about happy evenings and healthy ingredients and so on", read the last paragraph, which confirmed my expectation, and didn't even realize the rest of the story. Anyone else was reading the text like this? Bolisom (talk) 07:53, 5 October 2020 (UTC)

Hm... no. I (and I guess most others) have read the text completely becaus, you know, that is only place where the joke could have been. ;) But now that you mention it this should/could be added to the explanation since besides of the part that you accidently skipped it's like any other text of its sort. While it might not be Amelia's intention that you don't read the middle part it could have been Randall's intention just to fool the reader. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:35, 5 October 2020 (UTC)