The FDA Wants to Ban Berger Cookies, the World's Most Delicious Dessert

danielle_bluedanielle_blue

The FDA may soon kill off the world’s most delicious dessert—Baltimore’s own Berger Cookies. Please believe I make this claim as one who is not otherwise overly enamored of sweets.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, we’re talking fudge slathered over a shortbread cookie to rapturous effect.

If you are one who feels another dessert has a better claim to distinction, know that it doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re into will be banned too if it contains artificial trans fats, which the FDA may decide to outlaw as soon as January.

Berger Cookies, whose recipe has been only slightly modified since the 1830s, are obviously not healthy. But they are one of life’s little pleasures, and the law that criminalizes them is an ass. A tremendous, giant donkey and/or posterior. Of evil.

Via Capital News Service:

In the past two weeks, the Berger Cookie bakery has made two attempts to produce the cookies without trans fat, said owner and president Charles DeBaufre, Jr. The result was discouraging, he said.

“We’ve tried it and trust me, it is nasty. It doesn’t taste right,” DeBaufre said. “The texture’s not there. It’s an entirely different product.”

Trans fats are essential to the taste and flavor of the cookie, DeBaufre said. If the ban goes into effect, he said he would apply for an exception. If the bakery is denied an exception, he said he would continue to test out new recipes or “go out of business, one of the two.”

As Baylen Linneken noted earlier this month, the FDA claims a ban may prevent between 3,000 and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year. But evidence for this proposition is equivocal at best. New York City banned trans fats in 2006, and the heart disease mortality rate fell. But, says Linneken, it fell faster in the rest of the country—where trans fats are still freely available—over the same period.

The FDA further claims the benefits of prohibiting trans fats would dwarf the costs. But there is no way they could know that. As they acknowledge (PDF), their estimates do not include losses to consumers who find themselves unable to obtain foods they once enjoyed.

This loss will be particularly acute for those who live near or hail from Baltimore, where Berger Cookies are a revered commodity. But the ban will also affect frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, donuts, and no doubt other local amuse-bouches.     

The nation already has an ample supply of actual, terrifying public health crises like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and critical drug shortages. It would be nice if the agency that professes to protect us from such perils would leave. The cookies. Alone. People can decide what to eat for themselves.

The FDA is accepting public comments through January 7th.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • newshutz||

    Just use butter.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Butter comes from cows. Cows emit CO2, which is considered pollution by the EPA. Therefore butter must also be banned.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Hydrogenation was developed by Paul Sabatier the 1890s. The recipe goes back to the 1830s. Berger can use whatever was used for the first 60 years.
    Butter sure works for my wife's cookies, which I contend are the best Tollhouse cookie anywhere.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Internal combustion only goes back to the 1890s, people can just use whatever was used before then.

    Nuclear power only goes back 60 years, people can just use whatever was used before then.

    Personal computers only go back 30 years, people can just use whatever was used before then.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    No, you misunderstand me. I don't want the government up in any of this. He should be challenging this on simple economic freedom and freedom of association.

    I agreed with newshutz's "butter" comment in that I dispute the owner's complaint that trans-fatty acids are necessary to get the recipe right. TFAs could not have been part of the recipe for the first 60 years, so he's lying. Either the recipe does not predate 1890, or the recipe was greatly modified, or the original recipe was crap.

  • Robert||

    That struck me as well. A little fact-checking deficit here? Possibly a typo?

    Let's say it's true. The implication is one or more of:

    (1) The cookies were crap by today's standards, but good enough by the standards of the time to keep being produced.

    (2) The cookies were distributed in a 6-block radius still warm by a guy dragging a heavy sack, so they didn't need much shelf life.

    (3) They lost the original recipe, and are just going on word that at the times of changes, each change was only slight.

    (4) The cookies were so extravagantly expensive they made & sold only 1 batch a year to a rich family for Xmas.

  • alexisaudrey||

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  • R C Dean||

    I increasingly hate this country and everyone who lives here.

    Except you guys. Well, some of you guys, anyway.

    That is all. Carry on.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Why stop with the country? There's a whole species worthy of your contempt.

  • From the Tundra||

    I don't know. I kind of like people from Finland. Very quiet.

  • JW||

    I'm pretty much at that point as well, but then, I live around DC, so I have very good reason.

    The only thing separating it from the Hunger Games at this point is the fashion sense.

  • MJGreen||

    Hey, fuck you, buddy!

  • Locke||

    This blog post and the retarded comments fill me with a similar hate I make bad decisions because I'm poor, not vice-versa"

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    At what point does the population just start ignoring ALL regulation?

    One who regulates everything, regulates nothing.

  • From the Tundra||

    I'm getting there. I buy all my eggs and a good portion of my meat from small, local farms. New regs won't matter, it will just mean no invoices and cash only. Fuck them - no way I'm giving up fresh eggs.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

  • Snark Plissken||

    Look I think a FDA ban on trans fats is totally ridiculous but I find it hard to buy

    But two of the cookies’ key ingredients—margarine and fudge—contain partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, a source of trans fat.

    That using butter and/or lard instead of margarine and Crisco would be anything but an improvement.

  • BakedPenguin||

    This. I'm going to go eat a bacon sandwich with bread slathered in butter as a protest. Fuck you, FDA.

  • SweatingGin||

    Maybe a BLT with artisan mayonnaise.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    May sure your bacon comes from a heritage breed pig.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Just a "BL" for me, I'm allergic to tomatoes.

  • fish_remote||

    That's one of the saddest things I've ever heard!

    No red sauce, no salsa......I hope you drink a lot to compensate....I know I would!

  • BakedPenguin||

    I do drink a lot, but for other purposes. I can eat cooked or even processed tomatoes. Also if I really wanted to, I could eat fresh tomatoes. I only get a mild case of hives, it's not like I'm going to the ER or anything.

    Oddly, none of the other nightshade family causes me any problems.

  • Ska||

    Has that negatively impacted your alchemy career?

  • gaoxiaen||

    I've never tried deadly nightshade. Is it as delicious as I've heard?

  • Atanarjuat||

    Publix carries artisanal mayo now in the organic section. Fucking trendy douches.

  • ||

    Artisanal pus, straight up.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Berger Cookies, cake-like cookies topped with a thick slab of fudge, have been prepared with the same basic recipe since the 1800s in Baltimore.

    Crisco didn't go on the market until 1911. I don't think cottonseed oil was really used in food before that.

  • R C Dean||

    Hence, "same basic recipe."

    The original almost certainly used lard. As a home cook, you could go back to lard. As a business, I don't know what the issues are, but I expect they start with shelf life and cost.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Yes, it could be a problem for a business for the issues you state. My point is that they are not using the same recipe, that's a flat out lie. It's like saying you can keep your "same basic healthcare". FDA has no business doing this, but I'm going to call out an obvious lie even if I sympathize with the victim.

  • Steve G||

    Concur, trans fats didn't exist when this supposed delicacy was created so just back to the pre-trans fat recipe. Or make more than 2 attempts to modify the recipe.
    I hope the FDA doesn't pull off this stunt, but I'm failing to see how this will ruin all our favorite foods. I can't think of a single instance of a recipe being better with margarine than with butter...but what the hell do I know.

  • R C Dean||

    Aside from cost (which I have no idea about), baking with butter leaves you with a pretty short shelf life. Again, not a problem at home, potentially a big problem for a business.

  • Jquip||

    But think of all the extra productivity created from Broken Butter. This will create a hive of economic transactions, and so we should hire the FDA to ban more things that improve the self-life of food and produce.

  • Robert||

    And of course butter is at least a bit more expensive because of dairy price supports—all over the world.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    That using butter and/or lard instead of margarine and Crisco would be anything but an improvement.

    Real animal fats are healthy compared to vegetable oil. For instance, a study showing sunflower oil and olive oil increase heart disease risk factors compared to butter:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468601

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Trans fat cookies would taste even better if I didn't have to scroll down past that new Taboola You May Like crap in the mobile version of Reason. Can we start the annual webathon already so Reason can stick to its original recipe?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Also, fried chicken.

  • Atanarjuat||

    It makes Reason.com look cheap and trashy, and not in a good way. In a despairing "what did I stick my dick in?!" way.

  • Ted S.||

    Of course, you'll stick your dick in anything.

  • ||

    Stop othering man-sluts men, Ted.

  • ||

    Quit yer bitchin. Have you seen how much a cocktail in DC goes for these days?

  • Killazontherun||

    Nuke the FDA. They are the new Soviet Union. That is all.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Killaz, I bought a palm native to your ancestral homeland to landscape my parent's beach business. It's making my driveway look pretty festive right at the moment.

  • Killazontherun||

    I'm more of a gray skies hanging leaden overhead kind of guy. Its better for my skin, and allows me to stray outside during the day.

  • Killazontherun||

    More, seriously, I checked out those date palms, 'tis a pity I doubt if my clime could sustain it, as now I want one. Perhaps I should check out the creation of micro-climates. In Greensboro there is a place near the main upscale shopping center called the Bog Garden. They have a bamboo tree area that looks straight up 'cong in the middle of Winter. Perhaps, I should ask someone who maintains it their secret.
    My dad was great at spotting micro-climes, given his ranger and hunting skills. He once discovered one in a swamp a few miles from our home where the crayfish were as big and abundant and yummy sweet meat as the ones in his native Louisiana.

  • Atanarjuat||

    If you're in NC, the only thing it won't like about your climate is winter lows below 20 deg F. Otherwise it will do fine. The only problem is they get massive so you can't just easily throw a blanket/tarp over it when frosts threaten like it was a tomato plant.

    A south-facing hill is probably the best place to plant one. Cold air sinks, so a high spot is better, and south-facing is obviously much warmer in winter when you're in the northern hemisphere. Also, high tree canopy will keep frost off things underneath.

  • JW||

    All yuor liberties are belong to us.

    One by one.

  • califernian||

    make your time

  • ||

    With the death of Silber's Rainbow Cake and Kosmakos Pizza, Baltimore's greatness became a distant memory. This is only a nail in an exhumed coffin.

  • harrys ghost||

    The FDA is not proposing a ban. In this case, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is an artificial food additive. As such, it needs to be approved by the FDA as safe. We could have the discussion as to whether or not we need that but, I would imagine, most would not want melamine added to their food to bump protein levels as the Chinese were doing to pet food. If some would not mind, remember that the fact that ingredients are listed on the label is due to FDA rules.

    Anyway, if you have read the studies on trans fats, it is very difficult to say that they are safe. As such, the FDA is proposing dropping approval. Not the same as a ban. I really don't think this is a fight worth picking. If you want to make trans fat in your basement, knock yourself out. You just won't be able to sell it to others as a food additive.

    For the record, I grew up in the 60's so everything was Crisco and margarine. I very clearly remember the first time I had a chocolate chip cookie made with butter and popcorn with real butter on it. It was a revelation. Needless to say, I have been avoiding trans fats ever since. I don't care if you want to eat that crap but I would prefer to not have it in my food, thank you.

  • Killazontherun||

    Lost in your rhetoric is the FDA war on saturated fats which lead to a greater use of trans fats. Nuke government solutions to problems created by government.

  • R C Dean||

    What makes a food "additive" (why not call it an ingredient, BTW?) "artificial"? Butter and lard are both processed, you know; neither exists as such in the state of nature.

  • Killazontherun||

    If you could train a cow to stir the drop bucket until it produced butter that might make it natural enough to satisfy the eco-bunnies. Wait, even more animal enslavement. No, they would not like that.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I doubt it would be found in significant concentration or quantity, true. Still, it seems likely to occur somewhere. Butter only requires agitation to polymerize from cream. That's likely to occur in a kid's stomach. Cooking off pig fat occurs in cook fires, which for humans is a natural act.

    More importantly, how long has it been in the human diet and how healthy have they been on it? Butter as such has been in the human diet since at least ancient Thrace. I'm told ghee (a clarified butter) goes back at least 3000 years in India as well.

    A lot of "vegetable" (seed) oils OTOH have to be extracted with hexane, and haven't been in the diet but for 50 to 100 years.

    That's a big difference.

  • R C Dean||

    Nice try, Diet, but I still don't see a defensible definition of "artificial" that doesn't include everything that is processed in any way.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    defensible definition of "artificial"

    Again, I have problems with the whole concept of "artificial." I think evaluation of how long and how well humans have done on a food is a much better indicator.
    And, absent force or fraud, I think it's none of government's concern.

  • Locke||

    I'm studying chemistry at the moment and people get all worked up on how food or drugs are "extracted". The solvent you use for an extraction does NOT end up in the final product. I highly doubt any significant amount of hexane ends up in vegetable seed oils. This is fearmongering from the nannys. The same thing about drugs. "OMG COCAINE IS MADE WITH KEROSENE!" Yeah, but if you have a decent idea of what you're doing, you're not going to get fucking kerosene in your final product.

  • Locke||

    Not to mention if there was no prohibition, better, cleaner solvents could be obtained and used.

  • pan fried wylie||

    occurs in cook fires, which for humans is a natural act.

    So technology becomes "natural" after 25k-50k years, good to know.

  • wwhorton||

    The use of technology, which is referred to as "material culture", is one of the traits that makes humans unique among nearly all living animals. In fact, and any anthropologists please step in here, that's the trait that separates the hominids from the australopithicenes in the ol' evolutionary tree. So, I'd make the argument that a human using tools to manipulate the environment is no different than a fish swimming or a bird building a nest.

  • Entropy Void||

    Then don't buy the fucking food that has trans-fats.

    Fuck off Statist-Slaver Nanny Bastard.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    "The FDA is not proposing a ban. In this case, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is an artificial food additive. As such, it needs to be approved by the FDA as safe."

    What do you call it when the government bars the use or sale of something?

  • Ska||

    Progress.

  • Entropy Void||

    Nanny State Bureaucratese.

  • JW||

    I don't care if you want to eat that crap but I would prefer to not have it in my food, thank you.

    Let's see now, how could this be accomplished?

    1) Employ my agency as a human being and decide for myself exactly what I want to put into my own body, while leaving others to pursue their own choices. Their choices do not affect my own enjoyment in any way.

    or

    2) Have an organization, with armed troops at its disposal, remove that choice from everyone and threaten anyone who does not comply with this ban with monetary fines, then imprisonment and, ultimately, death.

    Fuck off, cunt.

  • Robert||

    Crisco is fully hydrogenated IIRC, so no trans fat in it. There may be Crisco line extensions that are partially hydrogenated and hence have trans-unsaturated fat.

  • Killazontherun||

    The FDA, however, does understand its limits. It can fuck with the American people all it wants, 24/7, and get away with it. But if their regulations ever effected the quality of the hors d'oeuvres catered at Georgetown cocktail parties, there will be Hell to pay.

  • LilDebbie||

    I'm going to disagree with the author here and come out in support of the FDA's ban on joy.

    In fact, I hope they ban more things for our own good. The more they take away, the more people realize that is what they are: takers.

    And the war draws one step closer...

  • Killazontherun||

    I doubt if the American Public, that aggregate of all of us supposedly bent towards a love of freedom and individual liberty, would know its way around the pointy end of a pitchfork to ever be a serious concern to the government. Notice how in bars you can't even enjoy a smoke? Not even one car flipped over and burned to charred husk, not even one broken window, not even one riot can be attributed to the ban. The LA Lakers losing or winning the playoffs stirs up more public emotion than the diminishing or our liberties.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Maybe we can use that to our advantage, link the playoff results to the hated policy of the day somehow.

  • LilDebbie||

    Smokers lack the lung capacity it takes for proper rioting. It's an endurance game, don't you know?

  • Killazontherun||

    If we are going to depend on the health of our very own useful idiots freedom fighters then trans-fat is the wrong battle.

  • Winston||

    I'm going to disagree with the author here and come out in support of the FDA's ban on joy.

    In fact, I hope they ban more things for our own good. The more they take away, the more people realize that is what they are: takers.

    And the war draws one step closer...

    So the policy of Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler? Really worked out well!

  • Kid Xenocles||

    I hear they make Chicago-style pizza with trans fats...

  • alexisaudrey||

    hi

  • Winston||

    So if society is growing more socially tolerant than shouldn't these bans be opposed along with the laws against tobacco, drunk driving, child labor and compulsory education?

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  • Gradivus||

    I'm against the government's banning them also, but I don't understand why they would be "nasty" if made without artificial trans fats, if they've been making and selling them with great success since 1830, which was a long time before the era of artificial trans fats.

  • WTF?||

    If the FDA truly cared about our health and safety they would be concentrating on the pharmaceutical and GMO corporations...

  • bblackmoor||

    I do not understand this. The article says the recipe has been "only slightly modified since the 1830s", but hydrogenation (the process through which trans fats are created) was not invented until the 1890s, and not commercially implemented until 1910s.

  • thorax232||

    What's this? People enjoying something? Ban it!

  • Great+Grandma||

    This is simply another prime example of one segment of the population thinking they're so absolutely and totally wonderful they have a right to forcefully impose their not-so-bright views on the rest of us along with extreme punishments if we refuse to comply.

    Personally, I'd like to find a really disgusting place to send these people to so they can reflect upon how harmful their 'better-than-thou' attitudes are.

    Oh well. These people are so obtuse they wouldn't get the lesson anyway. Guess I'll go ahead and break every single one of their oh-so-stupid regulations and live to age 100 simply to prove they're idiots.

    That's real revenge.

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