An eruption of aggravation about what American schoolchildren can no longer eat in school cafeterias is never far away in the Obama era.
Now, thanks to federal intervention that first lady Michelle has made her signature issue, students in all 11 taxpayer-funded public schools in Elyria, Ohio cannot enjoy the famous Elyria pink cookie anymore.
This cookie is no ordinary cookie, according to The Chronicle-Telegram, the Cleveland suburb’s local newspaper.
It’s a velvety, cake-like, scrumptious delicacy glazed with a huge dollop of sugary pink icing. Cleveland magazine dubbed the Elyria pink cookie the “Best Cafeteria Cookie” in 2009. Locals will even call up asking for special bulk orders of the tasty treat.
The originator of the Elyria pink cookies, Jean Gawlik, formulated the legendary confection almost 40 years ago using a simple, personal recipe her late mother had given her. It includes lots of butter, a couple different kinds of sugar, some Crisco and sour cream.
As local ABC affiliate WEWS notes, the cookie has been a staple on the local school menu since roughly the Carter administration.
This year, though, students in the Elyria must say goodbye to all that because of draconian calorie restrictions.
“We can’t have them in the cafeteria for sale, period,” Scott Teaman, who runs the district’s cafeteria services, told The Chronicle-Telegram. “The guidelines for snacks are very strict, and there is no wiggle room.”
As of July, schools that take the attached federal money under the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act must adhere to new Smart Snacks standards created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The standards stringently limit the number of calories and the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at schools for over 30 million American school kids.
This school year, instead of the illustrious pink cookie, Elyria students will be treated to a salad bar and a yogurt bar. There’s a sandwich bar, too. It will feature vegetables and egg patties.
Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda, who grew up in town, said local reaction over the new federal ban on delicious cookies is almost uniformly negative and highly critical.
“I grew up eating them,” Brinda told Fox News. “They are a comfort food. It’s one of those things that’s special to our community.”
Amy Higgins, a spokeswoman for Elyria City Schools, agreed.
“It’s a tradition,” Higgins told Fox. “It’s not only a tradition. It’s one that tastes really, really good. You’d be surprised by how many people are upset about the pink cookie going away. Anyone who’s gone to Elyria schools in the last 40 years knows the pink cookie.”
Efforts to bring the pink cookie into conformity with federal guidelines have failed.
Teaman, the cafeteria services director, told The Chronicle-Telegram that his staff tried whole-grain flour and less icing, to no avail.
“There is only one way to do the pink cookie, and to do it any other way would not do it justice,” he said.
“It’s not the pink cookie anymore,” Higgins explained. “It doesn’t maintain the integrity of the homemade recipe.”
Mayor Brinda likened an Obama administration-approved pink cookie to “eating diet potato chips.”