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Broken Cookies



It is not healthy to have a serious relationship with a cookie. Not just any cookie, a ginger snap. And not just any ginger snap. Not the ones sold at Ikea which are thin and fall apart when you dunk them in your coffee. Not the amazing Walker’s Ginger shortbread cookies which probably have 110 + calories in each one. Hubby will only accept two ginger cookies; either the Ginger Nuts variety from McVities, if he is in Europe; or the Stauffer’s ginger snaps which are sold in brown bags with orange/red writing on them produced in the United States. This is not a joke. This is serious.

Hubby begins his morning with fresh hot coffee and six ginger snaps. He counts them to be sure that he is not being short-changed. These crispy critters do not usually fall into his coffee when he dunks them, so they pass the test of approval. This is of course before breakfast. I also indulge. I have two, but they must be kept apart from Hubby’s stash or he will eat mine as well.

Hubby’s dementia has made the ginger snaps a very important part of his regime. For a very long time now, he has refused to eat them if they were broken, convinced that mice had been nibbling on them before they were served. It did not matter that we explained that these cookies had come from the United States, a minimum of 5,660 miles, and were broken in shipping from being jostled about. Hubby was adamant, and trained us to save the broken bits for ourselves while he ate only the whole “biscuits” (he is English you know… where this is the proper word to use.)

Only recently did I realize that Hubby’s aversion to broken cookies was deeper than even he could admit. Growing up in the East End of London during WWII, there was a shortage of everything. His family lived from paycheck to paycheck and there were coupons allotted for the amount of butter, sugar, chocolate etc. that each family was allowed. Hubby often told me that when he and his little brother Lionel were given a half penny to buy themselves a treat, they would go to the neighborhood bakery where the broken cookies were bagged up and sold for exactly that amount of money. The two little boys were delighted to have a bag of cookies, all their own, broken or not.

Hubby spent his entire life ensuring that he and his loved ones would never know that kind of poverty again. I now suspect that his aversion to broken cookies comes from a much deeper place, than the fear of something nibbling in the cookie jar. As a side comment – I have always loved quoting a comedienne who used to say that “It is a fact that broken cookies have no calories.” I am quite content to eat the rejected bits of ginger snaps, knowing that they are calorie-free. Hubby and I were a perfect match. This is the undeniable proof.

This morning’s serving of coffee and ginger snaps was followed up with a trip to the local hospital to double-check that Hubby’s pacemaker is working properly. By the time we returned home it was lunchtime. Hubby required hot coffee once again, this time accompanied by four ginger snaps. Not bad – 10 cookies at 30 calories each means that he has ingested 300 calories so far. Calories equal energy, so while you and I might stop at a few cookies, it is fine that Hubby eats something (anything) with gusto.

It is time for lunch and Hubby once again asks for hot coffee. It is prepared for him, but when served there were no accompanying cookies, and his reaction was similar to hearing that the family fortune had just disappeared. We brought him a plate of pizza and fresh fruit for lunch which was rejected amidst a flurry of four-letter words. How dare we NOT allow him to have his cookies??? Much like a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, the pizza was rejected. As was the glass full of Ensure which has extra vitamins and calories.

It was just a matter of time before Hubby would realize that he was indeed hungry. He asked for his breakfast (having forgotten that he had finished the first one, and rejected lunch as well.) We said not a word. He was given fresh coffee and his usual breakfast meal, minus the ginger snaps. Sometimes there is a benefit to someone being unable to remember what has transpired only a few minutes ago!

Stauffer’s ginger snaps are a very inexpensive cookie in the USA. By the time it is shipped across the ocean, its price triples. Because my brain is wired slightly differently than the average human, I decided to count the number of cookies in each bag. Of course, they are actually sold by weight, but there are roughly 50 cookies per bag. Hubby eats at least ten per day, and I did the math. Even at the inflated, imported, gouging price it costs $1.60 per day to support Hubby’s addiction. Add to that the fact that both Violet and I like these cookies as well, so we have 4-5 backup bags in the pantry awaiting any emergency, like a glitch in the supply train.

The additional 350 calories per day that Hubby ingests in ginger snaps are probably keeping him alive, so we will place it in the essentials category along with his extensive list of medications and be vigilant on his behalf. One’s priorities in life definitely change as unanticipated challenges present themselves at your doorstep!

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Barbara Diamond is a journalist living in Jerusalem, Israel. She has been a political activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for over fifty years, having participated in political and humanitarian missions to Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe to meet with world leaders on matters of concern. She has written over 100 articles for the Jerusalem Post and on her blog at The Times of Israel, hosted an English radio talk show in Jerusalem and continues mentoring others to pass on the torch of responsibility. You can reach her at [email protected] and visit her site at