ROCK HILL — If you are still undecided about whom to vote for in tomorrows presidential election or just looking for a way to predict the winner you should consider the cookie factor.
Others will look at the economic indicators: The stock market or the unemployment rate are traditional prognosticator tools. A rising Dow rate usually favors the incumbent. A high unemployment rate usually favors the challenger. President Barack Obama is seeking to become only the second president since 1936 to be re-elected with an unemployment rate of more than 7 percent.
Some will look to sports. How the Redskins perform in their home game before the election was a perfect presidential indicator between 1936 and 2000. When the Redskins won, the incumbent was re-elected. Will the Panthers defeat of the Skins on Sunday boost Romney?
And theres the big college game, Louisiana State vs. Alabama. When LSU wins, Republicans get elected. When Alabama wins the games, Democrats win the White House. The Crimson Tide rolled. Fired and up ready to go with Obama?
The cookie indicator
But for four of the last five presidential elections, Family Circle has picked the winner with its presidential cookie contest. The magazine asks the wives of the candidates to submit a favorite cookie recipe and then asks readers to vote.
This year, Michelle Obamas White and Dark Chocolate-Chip Cookies beat Ann Romneys M&Ms Cookies by 287 votes the closest Family Circle cookie race ever.
Had Family Circle brought the contest to Rock Hill, the margin would have even closer and maybe a Romney win.
Thats what The Herald found last week when we conducted an unscientific yet tasty test of the recipes.
Sweet Art Cakes of Ebenezer Road followed the recipes from Family Circle, baking several dozen of each cookie. Herald reporter Anna Douglas and I conducted the cookie taste test with Anna interviewing students and me talking with seniors.
Our sample was students in a culinary class at Rock Hills Applied Technology Center and residents at Westminster Towers. Each participant was given a generous sample, not knowing who baked the cookie or where the recipe came from.
Only after each cookie was sampled did we ask for their votes, and only after the voters were tabulated did we reveal the baker and the better half of the politicians.
Overwhelmingly the students and residents picked Ann Romneys cookie 75 percent gave a thumbs up to the M&Ms Cookie, which had peanut butter, old-fashioned rolled oats, chocolate chips and M&Ms. The cookie got high marks for taste, texture and variety of ingredients.
Students said they liked the texture of the M&Ms cookie, describing it as chewy on the inside with a crunchy exterior.
John Harris, an 85-year-old resident of Westminster Towers, called Romneys recipe a sweep the kitchen cookie.
Thats when everything in the kitchen goes into the cookie you sweep the kitchen of sweets.
Jo Gorki, an 88-year-old resident of Westminster Towers, said Romneys oatmeal cookie had been a favorite of hers and her husband, John, who died five years ago. I just loved eating it. Its far superior to what I made.
Students found Romneys cookie recipe tastier and more creative than Obamas recipe. The students are in the culinary arts class and attend South Pointe, Rock Hill and Northwestern high schools.
Melts in your mouth
As for Michelle Obamas cookie, most of the senior citizens found it too buttery the recipe calls for two sticks of unsalted butter and one stick of Crisco butter-flavored solid vegetable shortening.
Some were also turned off by its minty taste the recipe calls for one cup of mint chocolate chips in addition to a cup each of white chocolate and milk chocolate chips.
Students said the use of mint in Obamas cookie was a creative ingredient, but the amount of mint resulted in an overwhelming, distracting flavor.
The students who enjoyed the powerful mint-flavored cookie said they voted for it because it fell apart in their mouths.
Austin Newman, 18, a senior at Northwestern High School, was one of the two students who favored Obamas cookie. Hes a registered voter in York County.
Middy Plaxco, 17, who isnt old enough to vote for president but old enough to know a good mint chocolate chip cookie when she sees one, liked the Obama cookie.
Bette Christensen, who works at Westminster Towers, said the minty taste reminded her of a Christmas cookie. She voted for the Obama cookie, showing that Im nonpartisan.
May Williams, an active 101-year-old and a voter, also chose the Obama cookie, as did Dot King. King, 86, said she liked that the Obama cookie was crispy, but when told who submitted the recipe, quickly added, I wont vote for him!
Amy Laughlin, who works at Westminster Towers but hails from Norwich, England, gave the international perspective. The 32-year-old Laughlin said Romney made a good America cookie, but Obamas recipe would be sweeping Europe by storm.
She said Obamas cookie melts in your mouth but voted for Romneys oatmeal cookie because it appeared healthier.
Before we revealed which cookie recipe belonged to Obama and to Romney, we asked the students for their guesses.
Most of the students guessed wrong, thinking Obama had created the M&Ms cookie because the Obamas have young girls and the oatmeal ingredient is healthy, they said.
Mandi Bearak, who owns Sweet Art Cakes, said she was not surprised by the results. All the butter and the mint in Obamas cookies might turn off people, she said.
Suzanne Young, the culinary arts teacher, who moderated her class debate over the cookies but did not vote in The Heralds cookie poll said the Romney cookie had too much going on between the chewy peanut butter, the crunchy candy and the soft oatmeal.
If I ate it with a glass of milk, Id have to dunk this in the milk, she said, holding up the uneaten half of her Romney cookie.
If I ate the (Obama) cookie, I would eat it first and then I would drink the glass of milk as a finisher.
Sweet Art Cakes will continue the Obama-Romney theme Tuesday as the bakery adapts its recipes to make cupcakes.
The Michelle cupcake will have vanilla cake, white and dark chocolates, mints and walnuts with a vanilla buttercream frosting. The Ann cupcake will be an oatmeal base with peanuts, M&Ms and buttercream frosting.
Unlike the polls, Bearak said you can come by more than once on Tuesday for samples.
Don Worthington firstname.lastname@example.org Anna Douglas email@example.com