OUT OF LEFT FIELD
The Great Chocolate-Covered Graham Cracker Tasting
THIS PAGE DIPPED IN SWISS CHOCOLATE
America needs leadership
in finding good CCGC'S
TheColumnists.com encourages its writers to become activists for humanitarian causes. No other writer is as committed to this policy as that great American sports columnist Stan Isaacs. Today Isaacs resumes his efforts to help the American consumer of chocolate-covered Graham Crackers find a safe and tasteworthy product since the Nabisco company betrayed America and started the new Dark Ages. Note how many times we said 'America.' We love America.
By STAN ISAACS
The New York Times had a man eating cheesecake for a week to find the best cheesecake in New York. I operate on a less ambitious scale but am just as fervent about chocolate covered graham crackers as the Times is about cheesecake.
Devoted and loyal readers of TheColumnists.com who venture into left field may remember the crusade I waged last year to bring back Nabisco chocolate-covered graham crackers. For some inexplicable reason that no sane person can comprehend, Nabisco stopped making CCGCs a few years ago.
It took me, I must confess sadly, a while to get on this case. When I went a year or so without finding any CCGCs on the shelves of local supermarkets, I assumed that was because they were so popular customers lapped them up before I got to the shelves. Certainly, in our house, CCGCs were snapped up almost as soon as they were unloaded from the grocery bag. I must confess that I--and my wife--admit to occasionally having stashed away packages of the delight without informing other members of the household. Other commercial brands of CCGCs are not at all suitable to educated chocolate-lovers palates.
Despite my pleas and those of other aficionados who joined my campaign, Nabisco has adamantly insisted that they wont resume making chocolate covered graham crackers because they werent getting enough calls for them. Anybody who has ever tasted a Nabisco CCGC knows that has to be a bald-faced lie. It is important to note that the phrase chocolate-covered is important because Nabisco does make chocolate graham crackers that are not covered with chocolate. Those have not been discontinued.
It might be illuminating here to point out that Graham crackers stemmed from the efforts of a New Jersey minister named Sylvester Graham, who invented the cracker that now bears his name in 1829 to save women from the shattered lives of venereal excess or aching sensibility." He felt women needed a bland cracker to calm them down. I kid you not.
Nabiscos treachery has led to a search elsewhere for quality CCGCs. My wife pitched in, melting chocolate bits over chocolate grahams. These were excellent, but she decided she didnt want to donate any more half-days over a hot stove for them. We searched elsewhere and found success. At a price, though, because the goodies we turned up are expensive. At this time of economic hardship when children on Park Avenue are going without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I am reluctant to even reveal how much Starbucks charges for its skimpy package of two CCGCs.
In any case, our search produced three worthies: the aforementioned Starbucks; the ones sold in a plastic cup by my local supermarket, Holiday Farms; and those discovered by my friend Len Bernstein, an eminent gourmet who would tell me only that a lady named Carmen, who works for my company, gets them at a candy store in lower Manhattan.
One thing led to another and with the Times as an inspiration, we decided on a taste-test of the terrific threesome. I brought in the goodies from Starbucks and the local supermarket. Bernstein, a member of the prestigious Wine and Food Society as well as a lover of CCGCs (and just about anything put before him on a plate) fetched a selection from his mysterious downtown Manhattan source.
The judging was simple. Three of each types of CCGCs were put on three plates, mixed and shuffled in turn by Bernstein, my wife and me so we didnt know which was which, and we proceeded to do the tasting. I found it a bit startling that only I had a glass of milk to help my palate during the tasting. My wife at least started taking sips of my milk after awhile; Bernstein remained dry.
My method was to take small bites of each cookie in turn, rotating back and forth. My wife did the same. Bernstein ate most of one cookie before going to the next. Right off I found samples A and C almost undistinguishable, both delicious. The more I tasted, the more sample B seemed to be thicker and more crunchy and with a deeper dark chocolate flavor. I kept tasting and it soon become obvious B was my first choice. Some more tasting, more swigs of milk and I finally settled on A as a second choice by a slight margin over C.
I kept a scorecard of our choices. :
On a 3-2-1 scoring scale, B, which had the first-place votes of my wife and me won, followed by A which was Bernsteins first choice and then came C, voted second by Bernstein and my wife.
First: B, with seven points--the local supermarket product.
Second: A, with six points-Starbucks.
Third: C, with five points--Bernsteins mystery cracker.
In the summing up, Bernstein, who had the winning local supermarket cookie last on his card, said he was thrown off it by a certain coffeeish tint to the chocolate. My wife and I thought the winner had more zest. We like crunch.
We agreed that all the cookies were first rate and probably better than the Nabisco CCGCs of memory that the company refuses to put back in circulation.
©2004 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The illustration is composed of elements from IMSI's images collection plus Hummel's original artwork.
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