As campaign crumbles, 2016 presidential cookie contest commences

The Family Circle Presidential Cookie Poll is back. The 2016 throwdown: Melania Trump's Star Cookies vs. Clinton Family's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Melania Trump's Star Cookies (l.) takes on the Clinton Family's Chocolate Chip Cookies in the 2016 Family Circle Recipe Contest.

In efforts to sweeten a presidential election that has left a bad taste in nearly every voter’s mouth, Family Circle has announced the return of its Presidential Cookie Poll.

The premise is simple: Visit the Family Circle website, make a batch of Melania Trump’s Star Cookies and a batch of Clinton Family’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, taste, and cast your vote on the website.

Oh, if only electing the next president could be so clear-cut.

The Family Circle Presidential Cookie Poll has an illustrious history. Since 1992, Family Circle's Presidential Cookie Bake-Off has challenged candidates' spouses to put their best cookie forward and asked their readers to weigh in. The editors at Family Circle claim their contest has resulted in correctly calling the actual elections outcome in the past 24 years – except once.

In 2008, Cindy McCain's Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies beat out Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies, only to have John McCain lose to Barack Obama in the general election. Bill Clinton even got in the act that year with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies to support Hillary Clinton’s first run for the White House. But, with a whiff of scandal, Bill’s recipe was actually Hillary’s recipe – recycled from when she participated in and won the first cookie contest against Barbara Bush’s more traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies.

In 2012, Michelle Obama’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies won with the smallest of margins against Ann Romney’s M&M Cookies.

This time there’s no pretending that Bill, a vegan, is mixing up eggs and butter in the kitchen. The tried-and-true oatmeal chocolate chip recipe has been renamed for the entire Clinton family.

Hillary, in fact, is the reason the Presidential Cookie Poll even exists.

Back in 1992, when she was riding in the side-car for Bill's presidential bid, she got a bit direct when asked about her career in public service.

"You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life. And I tried very, very hard to be as careful as possible, and that's all that I can tell you," Hillary said at the time.

The backlash to her statement that appeared to elevate work outside the home over a more traditional homemaker path was fierce.

A quick-thinking publicist at Family Circle saw an opportunity to turn that political misstep into a fun cookie contest, writes Tamara Keith for NPR.

Regina Ragone, now the food director at Family Circle, noted how the magazine was 'famous for recipes and cookies,' and that Hillary Clinton's remark seemed to be 'the perfect opportunity' to start a cookie competition. What started out as a gaffe, she says, became a fun contest, and that contest has become a tradition.

 Let the fun continue. The Presidential Cookie Poll is open until Oct. 4.

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