Courting the cookie vote: Obama vs. Romney in the presidential bake-off

Forget Democrat vs. Republican. How about Chocolate Chip vs. Oatmeal Raisin? Political preferences are but one way to choose a White House occupant.

Larry Downing/Reuters
Ann Romney, the wife of US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, stands next to owner Linda Hundt, as she holds up a cookie in the shape of Michigan (minus the Upper Peninsula) inside the Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe in DeWitt, Michigan, last week.

Never mind taxes, wars, immigration, same-sex marriage, or global warming – here’s a question that is always at stake in any presidential election year: Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? 

Or this year’s iteration: Mama Kaye’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip or M&M?

It’s not quite the Kitchen Debates, but for the past 20 years, Family Circle magazine's Presidential Cookie Bake-off has been a wildly popular sideshow to the presidential election campaign: Which candidate’s spouse makes a better cookie?

The magazine has sponsored five previous contests in every presidential election year since 1992 when Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush crossed cookie sheets and went mano-a-mano over Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (Clinton) vs. Chocolate Chip (Bush). 

It works like this: The candidates’ spouses offer up favorite cookie recipes for public consumption. Readers then whip up their own batches and vote on which cookie is tastiest.

This year, bakers can cast their votes for M&M cookies, courtesy of Ann Romney, or Mama Kaye’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip, from Michelle Obama, through Family Circle’s Facebook page.

It isn’t quite like fortune cookies, but the magazine sponsors insist that the winning recipes are surprisingly accurate in their outcomes, predicting the eventual occupants of the White House in every contest with the exception of one: Cindy McCain’s Oatmeal Butterscotch beat out Michelle Obama’s Shortbread in the 2008 culinary vote, though the popular vote of course ultimately favored Barack over John.

(Bill Clinton, it should be noted, also got into the game that year (Oatmeal) as Hillary Clinton challenged Mr. Obama in the Democratic primary race.)

And spare us your snarky political assumptions: Democrats don’t only use vegan, gluten-free, hemp-and-flax, free-range, organic, non-GMO ingredients and Republicans don’t only use butter, sugar, chocolate, and red-white-and-blue sprinkles.

There have, by the way, been some unusual cookie components in the past, notably: pumpkin puree (for Theresa Heinz Kerry’s Pumpkin Spice), and white vinegar (Tipper Gore’s Gingersnaps). 

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