Here come the cookies

One day the mayor of an East Coast city calls in a top aide and asks: ``What do we do with the old slaughterhouse now that the sausage company's left town?'' ``Well,' says the aide, ``I assume we turn it into shops, theaters and restaurants.'' In six months the place is opened as a complex called The Abattoir, and thousands of people go there who wouldn't be caught dead in a slaughterhouse or a suburban mall. One morning the mayor's secretary bursts into his office: ``The people down at The Old Concrete Sewer Pipe Factory say four new cookie shops have appeared there in the last 24 hours. They're displacing all the other shops -- also the theaters and restaurants.'' It soon becomes apparent that this is happening all up and down the East Coast.

A professor of urban entropy from Harvard [later] explains the phenomenon: ``When you fill up grimy old structures that once served a useful purpose with shops, theaters, and restaurants, they tend to become absurdly overspecialized. These places are susceptible to being swept away by the slightest change in consumer taste, and when that happens the old cookie shops move in and take over.''

The end result, of course, is a chocolate chip cookie extending roughly from North Carolina to New England and from the Appalachians to the Atlantic. Don`t say you weren't warned. ------30--{et

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