Cookie Daze 2009

Cookies have been a part of my hometown since 1930. Ripon Foods Inc. have been making Rippin' Good Cookies ever since.

In 1994 Ripon was home to the World's Largest Cookie [verified by The Guinness Book of Records 1994, pg 204]. The cookie was 907.9 square feet and took 2 1/2 hours to bake.

Cookie Daze was born in 1995 inspired by this record breaking event. The event is very child/family focused. There are children's activity stations, horse drawn wagon rides, a bake and taste competition, "Cookie Blaster" rocket ship build and launch, clowns, cookie decorating, coloring contests. Heck there's even a Cookie Daze Prince & Princess that preside over the event [they're about 5 years old - very cute!]. The biggest attraction is the Cookie Drop.

Yup - they drop hundreds, if not thousands of individually wrapped cookies. Only one is marked with a gold star for the grand prize - a shiny new mountain bike! It's a mad dash to collect as many cookies as you can and then hope you get the lucky one!

Yup - it's gluten intolerant's nightmare alright! Gluten, gluten everywhere!!

After battling unexplained illness and symptoms for over a year, I discovered that my body does not handle gluten [a protein found in wheat, barley, rye & oats]. This was a life altering event for me. I didn't want others to go through the physical and emotional upheaval that I went through. In 2003 I made the commitment to become gluten free for life, and to be proactive in helping and educating others.

Since my wife loves to bake, she relished the idea of converting gluten polluted goodies into gluten free versions. I once again could enjoy some of my favorite foods!

In 2004 I convinced her to enter one of her GF cookies into the Cookie Daze Bake and Taste Contest. We would turn a baking contest into an educational experience for those that attend. Putting the danger aside, I put on my Hazmat suit in order to "Spread the Word" to the people that might need it the most.

2009 Cookie Daze

It was nice to be back at Cookie Daze this year. We didn't enter the bake and taste contest last year for a variety of reasons. However we did do a TV Promo for the event at a Green Bay, WI TV station. That was fun!!

Leading up to this year's event we went back and forth if we were going to enter or not. One huge incentive was that Peg felt she had a really good recipe this year - so she was pretty stoked. She also heard that they were looking for bakers this year. Plus, this year we had our support group to promote. So...add all that up - it equals signing up on the last possible day!

It was a good thing that we've done this before, because we didn't have much prep time. I probably need more time than Peg since she already had recipe figured out [which is time consuming enough]. I had to print handouts on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. Plus, I'm in charge of creating the recipe handout.

One thing we noticed this year is that the event itself was well organized and well run. It was an improvement over 2007. They had "cookie monster" tracks that the tasters were to follow so they'd all go the same way around the building - a clockwise rotation. Of course even with signs, directions & tracks - people still were "swimming up stream".

Since our focus is really about the education and awareness of celiac disease and gluten-free, we don't have a very elaborate booth for the presentation. We have packages of the ingredients Peg uses, a large recipe for people to see [and some to take], celiac disease & gluten-free diet handouts, some books on said topics. There is a prize for Best Presentation. There are some pretty fancy and well decorated booths! Are their cookies any good? I couldn't tell you, but Peg did find several out of the 13 that she did like.

The day started out cloudy and rainy; not a very good day for an event that's primarily outside. We didn't expect a very good turn-out. We were proven wrong! The clouds somewhat cleared to a disclose a partly sunny day as well as a throng of Bake and Taste tasters! The parade of tasters was steady the entire time. In fact, for about a hour, they were lined up out the door! We have never seen this in the 4 years that we've done this. We also ran out cookies - something we've not done before either. We were only required to make 8 dozen cookies, but Peg being the Bake hound she is made 12 dozen! It's a good thing because all we had left were crumbs.

It's always interesting to see/hear people's reaction to the cookies. Some people are quite attuned to the fact that they are GF, others...are just...oblivious. Some would grab a cookie, then see my info on CD/GF, back up and ask "Wow - are these gluten-free? These are really good!".

We heard about 5 or 6 times "Oh, this is what Susie or Johnny or Billy has". We got to talk at length to 3 or 4 people that were diagnosed. We had two little GF boys brought up to our table. Peg got out the whole, uncontaminated cookies [ones that we hadn't put out for the masses yet], to give to them. They were so cute and so sweet!

Peg also got inquires from a gal that had a son that was diagnosed two weeks ago. I talked to one gal that knew of a 1 year old that was recently diagnosed. It always seems like there's one "celiac" in the crowd that eats their way around the room. We just have to shake our heads - it's just insane.

Peg talked at length about GF baking tips and tricks. She had one gal come up and ask for tips on bread baking for her grandson.

We even had a couple of people that remembered us from year's gone by.

While Peg didn't win a prize this year, we considered the event a huge success! We did walk away with our hearts full, that's the best prize of all. It was great to talk to so many people. It's very energizing...

Cookie Daze 2009 Pictures

If you look in the right side bar, you'll see a links to photos from the Cookie Daze events and PDF's of the recipes.