Archway Homestyle Cookies were a Midwest grocery store staple in the 1980s. These cookies stood out from the sleeves of hard, cookie-cutter type cookies then stocked on store shelves. Archways were soft disks of doughy goodness packaged in three stacks of six large cookies, and wrapped in clear cellophane with a freshness code printed on the front label.
The bakery turned out 23 varieties of what they called “state fair winning recipes,” and included Golden Oatmeal, Mississippi Mud Cake, Fudge Nut, and Black Walnut. Their “homestyle” label was well-earned, as recipes were often selected from entries of company-sponsored baking competitions.
Archway Cookies were different. They were delicious. And for my Grandpa Cupp, irresistible. He bought them by the cartful at the local Fareway. He kept a shelf in his fridge just for his Archway cookies.
For a brief period I was living round the corner from him in a small town. I forever cherish those few months when I got to know him as a neighbor. I made it a point to visit him daily, even if the visit meant watching him yelling at J.R. Ewing on reruns of Dallas.
The point is that after every trip to Grandpa’s, I never left without a fresh package of cookies he insisted I take. It became a ritual, one I hadn’t thought about for years.
As someone who doesn’t seek out sweet desserts, I have noticed older folks seem to nurture an appetite for sugar. Go to any potluck, and perched on the plate of veteran potluckers is that slice of red velvet cake, the icing-loaded cupcake, or the plain sugar cookie.
It’s no secret we are constantly badgered to reject anything that tastes good and might be fattening and delicious. Yet I surmise everyone reaches a point in life where they say, you know what? If I want a second piece of volcano fudge cake, stand back. I’m having it.
This struck me when we were honoring one of our teachers on his 88th birthday. He asked for a second helping of cake and ice cream, and I started making the predictable remark about how he shouldn’t over indulge. Thankfully I caught myself, realizing the guy was nearly 90. Let him eat whatever the heck he wants.
I have now arrived at the point in life where eating a cupcake offers a moment of joy all out of proportion to the size of the serving.
So my new mantra is, go ahead and enjoy that piece of pie, that slice of cake, that extra scoop of ice cream laced with gobs of dough, M&Ms, and caramel fudge.
And eat those cookies, big and soft. Grandpa Cupp insists.