When we first started to talk about the cookie truck, it was a half-joke around the table at one of our editorial meetings.
What if we had Merrill and Amanda face off over holiday cookies?
What if there was a showdown?
What if we had people vote for their favorite?
What if we made a ton of the cookies and loaded them into a food truck and drove the truck around New York handing them out?
It is amazing to work with people who chase their crazy ideas. Yesterday, the real, live Food52 Holiday Cookie Truck (in partnership with Nielsen-Massey Vanillas) hit the city streets. And what a day it was.
We started out at noon, beginning the setup: We readied the cookies, made sure we were legally parked (we were!) on 23rd Street, and unfurled the banner for our selfie station (which turned out to be a team effort, with our product engineers moseying by after their lunch down the block and helping us to MacGyver it into place). Curious passersby began to sniff around. I just passed a cookie truck! one woman said into her phone.
The product team leaned mostly #TeamMerrill—with our senior product designer Ryan Hamilton, Michael Hoffman, and software engineer Micki Balder all voting for her Soft Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookie. (Micki, like Merrill, once called Flour Bakery in Boston home, and asserts that Flour alums know their cookies.)
Software engineer Jeremy Beker and VP of product Karl Rosaen both went for the #TeamAmanda, a Chewy Vanilla Spice Cookie with Chocolate Chunks (Vegan, too!).
So Merrill had started the day off strong—but that was just with the Food52 team. What would the people say?
At our first location, on 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, the line ebbed and flowed impressively for nearly three hours, with lots of people who work in the neighborhood stopping by on their way to or from lunch. (The folks who work in the building across from our parking spot were particularly excited, and sent all of their employees out in turns to get cookies.) Our brave and wonderful team inside the cookie truck—new friends Derek, Pedro, and Suly—could barely hand the warm cookies out fast enough.
On the sidewalk, we gabbed about cookie preferences and strategies, cited winning cookie characteristics (melty chocolate, sugary coatings), discussed the merits of vanilla extract versus vanilla paste, stamped hashtags onto paper cookie bags, handed out recipe cards, and ate a couple of cookies ourselves. We may also have taken a few selfies.
By the time 2:30 P.M. rolled around, we'd handed out 500 of each cookie—which meant that it was time to move on to our next location.
For a change of scenery, we parked by One World Trade Center, at Manhattan's toes. It was quieter there than it had been in Chelsea, and people passing by seemed to be more resistant to our offers of free cookies. (There's no catch! We just want your vote! we called after many a speed-walking tourist and banker.) But the folks who did stop were very excited—including some of our friends from Bon Appétit, who
couldn't choose a favorite kept their votes secret.
While the 23rd Street crowd seemed to prefer the #TeamMerrill cookie, #TeamAmanda reigned downtown. Even our truck team admitted to loving Amanda's cookie's spicy edge.
Will Amanda's spicy vanilla-chocolate chip cookie win, or will Merrill's chocolate-cherry cookies come out on top? Keep an eye on the Cookie Truck to find out where it will be—maybe near your office!—and then vote!