Community Papers

T.W. Paterson: Mea culpa? Who, me?

<p>Dad’s oatmeal cookies are still available in Canada. (submitted)</p> -

Dad’s oatmeal cookies are still available in Canada. (submitted)

— image credit:

The oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip Dad's cookies that we Canadians know and love are owned by U.S.-based Mondelez International.

Go ahead, have your laugh. So you can still buy Dad's cookies at your favourite grocer after I wrote (Citizen, July 5) that they were being taken off Canadian shelves by their distributor.

That they and other leading multi-national brands were being pinched by the large superstores who now push their own or 'no-name' brands, thus making even popular products too expensive to distribute in Canada.

You don't think I make this stuff up, do you?

I took my cue from a column by Sylvain Charlebois in the Times Colonist that I followed up by Googling Dad's cookies. And the rest, as they say, is…not altogether accurate.

I chose as my theme my love for Dad's cookies since childhood. As it turned out, many of you readers share that fondness, as evidenced by the fact that this Chronicle generated the most response to anything I've written in the Citizen this year. Even to the point of a lady baking me her own delicious version of a Dad's oatmeal cookie, and the offer of recipes for same.

A thoroughly alarmed Dad's cookie fancier, Glen Smith, North Cowichan, took the trouble to write that, "after much frantic googling," it "appears there may have been some confusion due to two totally separate companies using the name 'Dad's' for their oatmeal cookies".

He assured readers that they can still get their Dad's cookies in the familiar yellow package and that they "are, apparently, here to stay".

Hmmmm. So back to Google went I.

Second time round, it seems there are, in fact, at least three cookie companies using this moniker, or a close facsimile, in North America: two of them in the U.S. and one in Canada. The one I wrote about in July was Dad's Original Scotch Oatmeal Cookie Co., of St. Louis, Mo. since the 1930s. There's also the johnny-come-lately My Dad's Cookies, of Oceanside, N.Y., whose products are gluten, nut and dairy free. And kosher.

The oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip Dad's cookies that we Canadians know and love are owned by U.S.-based Mondelez International. These are the ones in the recognizable yellow bags.

Where the story of their being pulled from store shelves seems to have got it start is with a feature by CBC News reporter Sophia Harris, in April. She actually reported on consumers' complaints of not being able to buy their beloved Dad's chocolate chip cookies.

Turns out that these hadn't been pulled from the shelves, they simply weren't being replenished as stores sold out. Why? The company was no longer making them because of poor sales.

Turns out, too, that Mondelez was guilty of poor communication, having misinformed chocolate chip fans of their continuing availability. In response to an angry social media campaign by cookie fans, the company had to apologize to its disgruntled customers.

In the course of her research reporter Harris learned that the Dad's Cookie brand goes back to 1929 when a family named Sturges in Los Angeles "came up with a winning formula for an oatmeal cookie. It took off in both Canada and the U.S."

But the American franchise went out of business and, in 1972, the three Canadian franchises joined together. The resulting Dad's Cookie Co. has been owned by Mondelez, one of the largest snack foods companies in the world, since 2012.

Ms. Harris didn't mention the longstanding St. Louis company bearing the same name to which I referred in July. So, chocolate chip fans, sorry. But Dad's oatmeal and coconut appear to be here to stay.

(That said, just you see if I believe anything I read in the Times Colonist again.)

Finally, to another twinge of conscience. In Friday's Citizen I told you of Florence Chadwick's unsuccessful attempt to swim Juan de Fuca Strait in 1954. This in recognition of last week's successful crossing of the strait by paralympic distance swimmers Jill Yoneda and Susan Simmons.

Theirs is a truly remarkable and courageous achievement.

To conclude my piece on Miss Chadwick, I quickly summarised the successful subsequent Juan de Fuca swims by Marilyn Bell, Bert Thomas and Cliff Lumsden. Now, add to their achievements, that of Yoneda and Simmons.

Which is what bothers me. These five beat the Strait but Florence Chadwick, the most vaunted marathon swimmer of her day, didn't after a five-hour attempt. And that makes her sound like a quitter. Which she most certainly wasn't and I don't want to leave that impression at all.

Very briefly: She won a marathon race off La Jolla, Ca., 10 times in 18 years. She swam the English Channel no fewer than four times, first in 1950 then again a year later, by swimming the opposite direction and setting another time record. In 1952, on her second attempt, she swam the 16 miles between Catalina Island and the California coast. She followed this by setting the all-time record for swimming the Straits of Gibraltar in 1953, then swam the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

This was the amazing record which earned her her invitation to swim Juan De Fuca Strait in 1954. Although she promised to try again she never did. Florence Chadwick died of leukemia in 1995 and her ashes are scattered off California's Point Loma. A quitter?

www.twpaterson.com

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