Hoffman's Houston
how the cookie crumbles

Ken Hoffman reveals an H-E-B 'cookie fraud' and 2 bold Houston predictions

Hoffman reveals an H-E-B 'cookie fraud' and 2 bold Houston predictions

H-E-B cookie
Just how many calories do these delectable cookies count, H-E-B? Photo courtesy of H-E-B

I’m about to bite the hand that feeds me. I’m charging H-E-B with calorie fraud. And my case is so solid that I don’t need Rudy Giuliani to call a parking lot press conference.

Several months ago, I got hooked on the “Sensational Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie” in the bakery department at H-E-B. I mean I had a real problem with these cookies. I was eating them two at a time. This cookie is thick and chewy, packed with chocolate chips, nuts, chocolate liquor and fudgy goop. They're closer to brownies, the unsung hero of the entire dessert industry.

I’ve never eaten a cookie this fantastic. You know how you bite into a regular boxed cookie and there’s maybe two or three chocolate chips in there, and you need a Diet Pepsi to wash it down? H-E-B’s Sensational Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie has so many chips and walnut pieces, the flour part is merely spackling to hold the cookie together. It’s huge, the size and shape of a muffin top. Simply the best, like Tina Turner says.

So what’s my gripe? As a health nut, of course I always look at nutritional labels during my supermarket sweeps. Calories are the biggest, boldest number on the wrapper. I checked out the calories on these cookies – there it was – 290.

Only 290? I’ll have two. Then as the pandemic wore on, I noticed that I was putting on a few pounds,  with a very liberal interpretation of “few.”

Let me look at the nutritional label again. Yeah, it says 290, but in small print below, “serving size," and even smaller print, a serving is “1/2 cookie.”

Who eats half a cookie? In the history of cookies, nobody has ever eaten half a cookie. Mahatma Gandhi didn’t have the willpower to eat half a cookie.

One “Sensational Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie” has more calories than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Extra Cheese.

Here’s what I think happened. The evil geniuses in H-E-B’s test kitchen came up with this cookie. But even they knew that 580 calories for one cookie is obscene, so they slipped the “serving size:1/2 cookie” in small print that a diamond cutter would have trouble seeing. I will get even with you, Scott McClelland, if I can get up from this chair.

Now my dilemma: as much as I’m hooked on this cookie, I will show self-discipline for once and cut back on … Quarter Pounders with Cheese with Extra Cheese.

Big Houston predictions
Two more predictions even less likely to happen but should: The Astros will begin their 2021 season on May 1, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be pushed back from March to May.

For many recent years, attendance at the rodeo was impacted by early March cold fronts, wind and rain. I’ve seen roofs blown off food stands. I’d ask officials, why not hold the rodeo later in the year? Even a couple of weeks would help. April and May are the best weather months in Houston.

I would be told that the rodeo was locked into early March because of tradition, the carnival industry’s schedule and entertainers’ availability. Tradition could finally change next year, you'll see. 

Remembering John
Historical marker: it was 40 years ago tomorrow – December 8, 1980 – John Lennon was murdered outside of his Dakota building home on W. 72 St. in New York.

Lennon was my hero and the coolest guy who ever lived. He was the heart of the act that changed the world. He was funny and brilliant, a talented writer, a pain in the establishment’s butt and a wise guy. I loved everything about John Lennon. Still do.

Talking turkey
Life will be different when we come out the other side of COVID-19. Some changes may be annoying but necessary for a while — wearing masks in stores, limited seating at sports events, occasional and inexplicable shortages of toilet paper. Some changes will be for the better, though — first-run movies on home TV, working in your underpants from home, and less phony hugging and fake kissing people you barely know. I’m giving a little speech Thursday morning. I may do it from bed.

The best part of 2020 so far was the trend away from buying the biggest turkey in the supermarket freezer for Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is ridiculous. First it hogs your refrigerator for three or four days while it defrosts. Then you have to wake up early on Thanksgiving to start cooking the turkey. It takes up the whole oven. When you finally get down to dinner, the white meat is dry, the dark meat is bad for you, you’re not supposed to stuff the turkey and you’re definitely not supposed to eat the skin, which is the best part of turkey and worst for your health.

But this year, because of COVID-19, Thanksgiving family dinners were smaller, and people were buying smaller turkeys. Supermarket freezer cases had trouble unloading the big birds — 20 pounds and up. Here’s hoping for smaller and smaller turkeys until they're gone from Thanksgiving dinner and replaced by Italian or Mexican or Chinese, what we really want.

From the American History 101 syllabus, here was the menu at the first Thanksgiving in 1621: venison, geese and duck (but not turkey), corn, nuts and shellfish.

My prediction: 2020 was the beginning of the end of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.