If I were to come to you and ask which you would rather have, a sweet treat or a salad, I would say the majority of you would lean toward the treat. Even if you said salad, I know there is a part of you that was thinking sweet treat. While it may come as no surprise to most, the cookies we make at Open Table are one of our biggest hits and are the most commonly requested alongside our delicious burritos.
Each afternoon when I make my way downstairs to the kitchen the sweet smell of our signature fresh baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies always fills the air, torturing not only myself, but everyone else in the building. I am not quite sure how our starter cooks keep themselves from eating one or two here and there, but I guess no one is counting how many come out of the oven (haha). The aroma spreads so far throughout the building that we have even had Luther students lured down to the basement, following the sweet smells, and asking to try.
Even though treats are a hit at any age, out at the truck, the kids are always the ones who show their excitement for a treat the most and make giving out treats that much sweeter. One of my favorite guests is a little Latino boy who comes with his sister or his mom nearly every week. He is so excited about our cookies that he always comes directly to the window and asks if he can have at least 20. By the time his mother makes her way to the window from the extras table, he is not far behind, but he never has burritos on his mind. He stands behind his mother with all ten fingers in the air looking at me saying ’20 cookies please!’ to which mom rolls her eyes and says, ‘only five please.’ Another one of our guests— who I mentioned in a previous post on altruism—is a para at a local school. She always tells me how much her kids love the cookies from our truck and often tells us how they are always eager to make sure she hasn’t forgotten them.
It never ceases to amaze me how something so simple always elicits a smile from our guests, no matter what age they are. It is a phenomenon that I have only recently begun to notice as we serve more and more new faces. While our regulars know the drill and never forget to ask, newer guests often are more unsure about our process. But any unease or uncertainty simply melts away from their face when you ask the simple question, “Would you like a cookie?” From the first day I stepped foot on the truck, I have never received a ‘no’ to that question and I don’t anticipate that will change any time soon.
While the nutritional value of a cookie is debatable, I would argue that the emotional impact these treats have is worth every ounce of sweetness. They never fail to put a smile on the faces of our guests and are one of the first things gone in the truck without fail. Even those who may not take our burritos, will never turn down a cookie and I think that speaks to their universality and popularity among all guests. Something so small, simple, and sweet never fails to ease anyone’s day. This same sentiment is also at the heart of what we do at Open Table, where we aim to give food to anyone in need in order to ease the pressure of providing a meal. I would encourage each and every one of you to also think about the feeling you get the next time you are asked, “do you want a cookie?” And remember how something so small and sweet can impact the way that you feel.