Monthly Archives: December 2011

Universal Cookie Constant

There’s always a lot of baking that happens during the holiday season. Even I get into it a little bit, although my baking usually consists of churning out several hundred sausage rolls, made in massive volume in direct competition with my dad. It’s one of my favourite bits of the holiday. We start off working together Dad prepping pastry while I cook sausages, then slowly we both go into head-to-head production of a squillion and eight rolls.

It gets messy.

Less often do I see those kinds of astronomical volumes of cookies being produced. This year I’ve been privy to Natalie Joy’s Christmas baking, which has been at once conveniently delicious, awe-inspiring, and a little terrifying.

It’s not an uncommon occurrence, really. Remember the experiment with cookies and making ice cream sandwiches? There are always a ton of cookies around. Like, more cookies than one normally sees in any one place at any given point.

And it’s got me thinking.

Everything in the known universe comes from a finite amount of matter. Conservation of energy and mass means that unless something dramatic happens, the universe is only ever going to have so much stuff in it.

What if the laws of nature, of physics, what if the cosmic equation can only balance out properly if there’s only a finite number of cookies in the universe?

I worry about these things, not being a scientist who studies the concrete reality of things. Those of us who don’t plumb the truths of the universe suffer glitches in our understanding because of the limits of our perception. Like how salt and sugar look the same at arm’s length even though one’s a mineral and the other’s a carbohydrate.

What if Natalie Joy is baking cookies, producing a squillion-dozen for friends and family:

And elsewhere in the universe, beyond our perception, cookies are disappearing?

More than just the existence of a Universal Cookie Constant that can be exceeded, I wonder if the constant is high or low. If it’s high, that would be great, because there’s less chance of it being exceeded, and more people can enjoy cookies all the time. We wouldn’t have to eat them as quickly, we could savour and even warehouse them. I imagine that the conglomerates, the multi-trillion-dollar cookie internationals, would love this idea:

But this, to me, diminishes the joy of cookies.

Cookies are always best when baked for those loved, when gifted or purchased relatively fresh, when enjoyed within hours of coming out of the oven. Stockpiling a hundred squillion dry, preserved, generic cookies makes that impossible.

I like the more dangerous idea of a finite Universal Cookie Constant. Yes, you’re in greater danger of exceeding it, leading to spontaneous quantum cookie fluctuations all over the universe. But if you’re responsible about your cookie production and rate of consumption, you can work with the universe to ensure that cookies are produced, gifted, and eaten at similar rates.

This holiday season, folks, bake and eat responsibly. Make many cookies, eat as many or more to make room for others’ cookies elsewhere in the universe. It’s all about being a good neighbour.

Merry Christmas, everyone, Happy New Year, and, as always, paddle your own canoe.

Yours,

Trevor