December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria students lose the pink cookie

A tray of pink cookies are seen at Elyria Schools. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

A tray of pink cookies are seen at Elyria Schools. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Students no longer will eat the traditional Elyria pink cookie — the soft, buttery-sweet confection found only in school cafeterias across the city.

The federal government saw to that. Its edict calling for school districts to provide more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains to students along with fewer calories, fat and cholesterol has resulted in the loss of the pink cookie.

“We can’t have them in the cafeteria for sale, period,” said Scott Teaman, food services director with Sodexo Inc., the district’s contracted food provider. “The guidelines for snacks are very strict, and there is no wiggle room.”

It’s not surprising the pink cookie does not meet the revamped food guidelines. Much about it hasn’t changed in nearly four decades — that’s how long the pink cookie was on the menu.

“We could modify the recipe by changing the size, using whole-grain flour or putting on less icing, but in doing that you are not making the same cookies,” Teaman said. “There is only one way to do the pink cookie, and to do it any other way would not do it justice.”

The cookies have a made-fresh-from-grandma’s-kitchen taste for good reason. Original baker Jean Gawlik, the former food production manager for Elyria Schools, patterned the treats after the personal recipe of her mother, the late Marie Smith, of Amherst.

Over the years, the cookies have developed a cult following. The cookies even were dubbed the “Best Cafeteria Cookie” by Cleveland magazine in 2009.

Teaman said district bakers will fire up the ovens for special orders. Orders will be taken during the week and available for pickup on Fridays.

The pink cookie may be gone, but that doesn’t mean students will have nothing appetizing to eat.

New this year, the district offers a full salad bar at the middle schools and mini-versions at the elementary schools. Students at the high school still will have a salad bar, sandwich bar and pasta bar at lunch, but in hopes of encouraging more breakfast eaters a yogurt bar, cereal bar and Subway-esque sandwich bar with a variety of meats, cheese, vegetables and egg patties will be added to the selections.

“The idea is if (the students) make it, there is a better chance they will eat it,” Teaman said. “It’s different than someone just putting it on your plate and not giving you an option. They will be able to come up with their own thing at breakfast and lunch, which is completely new to school meal programs.”

Meal prices remain the same: $2.75 for a full-price lunch and 40 cents for a reduced-price lunch.

In 2013, more than 1.5 million breakfasts and lunches were served to students.

All changes take effect Monday, the first day of school for Elyria students.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

FYI

  • Elyrians can order pink cookies from the district for special events, available for pickup on Fridays. The cookies cost $5 a dozen. Order by calling (440) 284-8287 or (440) 284-5213.

Recipe

The Elyria pink cookie

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Crisco
11/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix butter (or margarine), Crisco and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time. In separate bowl, mix baking soda and sour cream until baking soda is completely dissolved. Add to butter mixture. In separate bowl, sift flour and salt together. Add to wet batter and mix well. Dough will be sticky and can then be used as drop dough, if desired. If too sticky, add more flour until it can be rolled  ¼-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

FROSTING
1 pound of margarine or butter
6 cups of powdered sugar
1/8 cup of water
Red food coloring

Beat margarine or butter until soft and creamy. Sift powdered sugar and then beat into the margarine/butter a cup at a time until creamy. Beat in water and a few drops of food coloring until smooth. Will frost about 3 dozen cookies.