October is known for ushering in colder weather, Halloween, scary movies, pumpkin spice and warm lattes. This year when you think of October, you can think about National Cookie Month! This celebration allows us to prepare for the holidays by giving us a reason to have a delicious warm cookie with our latte.
This year The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company is celebrating National Cookie Month by adding a sprinkle of competition. They have announced their very first baking competition in Reading Terminal Market, where they have been located since 1978. Owner of The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company, Tina Phillips, says “we were really looking for something to do to get the public involved and we thought we could do something fun. You know everything has been on lock down and there’s been no places to go and nothing to do. We just thought this is something fun; Covid or not. Throw caution to the wind and do this with restrictions to bring people together and also keep people safe.”
This Covid-safe cookie baking competition will be executed in 3 stages. The first stage is strictly online. Recipes and applications must be submitted online by October 8th. The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company will then review the submitted recipes and applications to select six to eight semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be asked to provide their finished baked products and a minute-long video explaining the inspiration behind their recipe. A panel of six to eight Philadelphia tastemakers and/or chefs will convene at Reading Terminal Market to sample the submissions and select three “Famous Finalists.” These finalists will be invited to Reading Terminal Market’s City Kitchen to participate in a live bake-off in front of a panel of judges on October 29.
Following the bake-off, one grand-prize winner will be selected. The winning cookie will be added to The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company cookie list and will be mass manufactured and available coast to coast. The cookie will also receive a fun name with the winners input. In addition, the person with the cookie crown will receive a $500 gift certificate to the Reading Terminal Market.
If your cookie recipe involves a pre-made boxed mix, then this isn’t for you. Phillips says, “There are some caveats to the competition because we are a clean label company. Use what you have in your kitchen at home. If you bake with your children, or if you bake for your mom or grandma or whatever, we use the same ingredients. We don’t have any artificial favors or anything that is not healthy for you. It is flour, sugar and butter, but it’s the best flour, sugar and butter that you can buy.” The contestants will be held to that same standard – no artificial flavors or coloring.
Trying to get an edge up on the competition? Phillips says they are looking for whatever is creative and they are always interested in nut-free options since so many people have nut allergies. She also mentioned that we are in Philadelphia and “we like what we like. We are more of a plain Jane city. I know a lot of people want to put very fancy things in their cookies, but the city kinda likes the gritty, plain stuff, but that doesn’t mean that something interesting can’t win.”
Anyone can enter this competition, trained or untrained bakers. Phillips commented on the idea of a trained chef having an advantage over the every day baker saying, “I don’t believe in my mind as one of the judges that a pastry chef has an advantage over the home baker in this situation because we are not asking for a fancy cookie. We are looking for something from the heart, a delicious cookie. That’s what we are looking for. Anybody could give us that.”