The stigma against oatmeal raisin cookies is grotesque

What's not to love?
What’s not to love?
Image: glenn koenig/LA Times via Getty Images

No matter how hard it tries, no matter how many recipe formations it attempts to squeeze into, it seems the oatmeal raisin cookie can never do anything right.

The stigma against the cookie is persistent and unwavering. For as long as I can remember, oatmeal cookies have belonged to a lower caste of cookie. While some of the criticisms of oatmeal raisin cookies are genuinely felt, so much of the opposition to oatmeal raisin originates in cultural prejudice.

We are taught to hate oatmeal raisin, we were not born to loathe it. 

Let’s strip away the layers of stigma and celebrate oatmeal raisin cookies for what they are: a delight.

The stigma is pronounced and violent. At school and community bake sales, oatmeal raisin cookies have been routinely discriminated against in favor of the supposedly more delicious chocolate chip. Many supermarket shoppers fear purchasing oatmeal raisin cookies and upsetting their more antagonistic family members. Oatmeal raisin cookies are virtually absent from brown bag lunches internationally. 

In some communities, the situation has grown so dire that local bakeries don’t even offer the oatmeal raisin. Only the chocolate chip and the unctuous Snickerdoodle are available for purchase.

Cruel.

People are entitled to their bad food opinions, but most of the wrath directed at oatmeal raisin is unwarranted. The hostility towards the oatmeal raisin largely has to do with its reputation as a healthy cookie. While that argument is grounded in history, it no longer applies to the cookie’s modern iteration, which is gross.

People are entitled to their bad food opinions, but most of the wrath directed at oatmeal raisin is unwarranted.

The ancestral oatmeal cookie appears to have originated in the United Kingdom in the form of a oat cake. Sometime around the Middle Ages, people introduced raisins to make it more flavorful (because raisins, contrary to contemporary public opinion, are good). By the 1900s, the oatmeal raisin came to be known as a “health food.” Recipes for the cookie started appearing on boxes of Quaker Oats.

The anti-oatmeal cookie community is correct, then, in thinking that ancient oatmeal raisin cookies were healthy. But browse your modern supermarket cookie aisle and you’ll find plenty of oatmeal cookies drowning in saturated fats, trans fats, and all the mono and diglycerides a girl could ever want. 

Are you a hydrogenated soybean oil kind of eater? Then the modern oatmeal raisin cookie is for you.

I empathize with many in the anti-oatmeal raisin community. Far too many of us were traumatized as children when we were told raisins were a “fun snack.” They’re not, and no responsible adult should have shared that propaganda. (It’s the moral equivalent to saying that fruit is dessert.) 

But that doesn’t mean they should take their anger out on the poor oatmeal raisin cookie. Innocent oatmeal already has to deal with enough, especially when its raisins are confused with chocolate chips. Blame our anti-labeling culture, not the cookie. Oatmeal raisin cookies can’t help who they are (delicious).

It’s time all of us took a minute to examine our anti-oatmeal cookie prejudice and determine whether it’s natural or learned. Oatmeal raisin cookies may not have the glamor of chocolate chunk, but that’s okay. They’re not afraid to be different, and that’s what makes them beautiful.

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