Well HOLY CRAP fellas. Go sit in your Lazy Boy, crack a cold beer or pour a fresh coffee; this one is going to be a long one. Or go to your favorite place to read. . . you know what I’m talking about.
So the wife and I just got back from good ole Salt Lake City where I experienced CC 2017. I can’t even say I attended it, I have to say experienced. . . it was totally unreal. I will do the best I can to help the rest of you widowers understand it, but I’m confidant I will fall short.
The first thing you notice when you walk into the hotel is the energy. I mean a palatable excitement from these folks that can only be compared to a toddler who has eaten 4 King Sized Snickers bars, washed them down with a gallon of Mountain Dew and somehow absorbed the power of the sun. That seems close, but maybe still not quite there. And quite frankly, it may have started at the airport. These women (and yes, there are some guys mixed in there, but forgive me my lack of PC manners.) somehow find each other. It may have something to do with the Cookie Con T-shirts, but it’s hard to be sure. The seemingly unlimited supply of squealing, hugging, OMG’ing and other similar shenanigans mixed perfectly with the excitement of learning and sharing about their favorite addiction, err, I mean hobby or job, has the cookiers practically vibrating. It all gets unleashed on the hotel (and whole city really) for four crazy, exhilarating, and really loud days.
And guys I mean LOUD. Think diesel dually driving through nitro glycerin loud. These women are positively shameless in the amount of noise they make. But they don’t care; they’re having fun, darn it.
And guys, here’s something I promise you’ve never experienced before. These tireless confectioners actually bring cookies to give out, to other cookiers. Often complete strangers. Imagine going somewhere and strange guys just walk up to you and hand you wrenches. It actually doesn’t sound bad. It’s even better with cookies because you can at least eat them. But the overwhelming amount of generosity and kindness is really inspiring. They love the cookies, the process of making them, and each other. Remarkable.
This year held a special treat. A guest speaker. Now, imagine you’re at a car show and Henry Ford took the stage to speak. That would be incredible right? Yes, it would because he died 70 years ago. But in this case, the matriarch of the cookie cutter industry was there, Ann Clark! If that name doesn’t ring a bell, shame on you. It means you haven’t been listening, and all those bad things I heard about you were true. Or even worse, you have her fooled and the good things I heard weren’t true. Either way, it was a real treat to get to hear Ms. Clark speak and even get a chance to talk one on one with her. I probably could have blamed her for the whole thing, but her excitement and enthusiasm were far too captivating. She is a special lady, and meeting her was an honor.
And my brothers, who doesn’t love gadgets? Oh stop, you know you’ve bought so much crap off of the “As seen on TV’ section of your local department store you could have funded another space mission. There is wall to wall gadgets!!! Air brushes? Got ‘em. Stencils? Corner to corner!!! Cookie cutters? Covered! And stuff I still don’t understand. Sugar veil? And some sort of magic pen to dispense it? OK, I’ll bite. Those vendors had to stuff to scrape, mix, measure. . . and don’t worry guys, your wives bought pretty much all of it.
The folks that organized things had a great scavenger hunt kind of activity involving hats. Each attendee got a card that had a bunch of pictures of these incredibly stylish hats. The attendees could get the cards punched by the wearers of the aforementioned chapeaus, and if they collected them all (sounds like Pokémon) they were entered into a drawing. Now, the Widower may not be the smartest bulb in the pack, but I know this. . . one of the guys that rocked some of those hats was one fine looking specimen of a man. . . and I’ll leave it at that.
You really do run into some fun folks. . . I ran into one lady for instance. . . in the men’s room. She was quite apologetic. . . but simply explained she was at a convention with 500 other women. That’s pretty sound logic if I’ve ever heard it. And speaking of bathrooms, word on the street is you can even wash stencils and spatulas in the men’s room sinks, if you have a rag to block the motion sensor so the water runs continuously. So I’ve heard. . . ahem. . .
The Hilton hotel that housed this grandiose event was a great facility, and the only thing that hotel had more of than ugly carpet, was talented cookiers. Gents, I’m here to tell you. . . between the Sugar show, Mystery shape, the simply AMAZING presenters (ahem, did you read that my darling wife?) and the general skills-to-pay-the-bills icing work happening during open decorating, this XY Homo sapiens was left pretty much speechless. Its no wonder there are so many talentless people out there, these ladies got too much per person!!!! Simply amazing.
And finally guys. . . and there’s no joking around here. . . Mike and Karen. . . the two field generals. . . or ringmasters maybe of this creative circus did an outstanding, stupendous, just down right ridiculously awesome job of once again organizing and running this event. Thanks to their army of purple apron folks, who also worked tirelessly to ensure a good time for all, just did such a great job that no amount of praise is enough. . . no amount of hyperbole is too much. I’m in awe of everything that they have done collectively. Thank you so much.
So guys, when the Mrs. returns home, let her tell you all about it. Let her show you what she bought. And pretend to believe her when she tells you that the 2 stencils and one cutter is all there is. Its kind of an unspoken rule, if you don’t ask to see the receipts for all of the supplies she bought, she won’t ask why there are 8 different pizza boxes in the trash can.
Until next Cookie Con, keep piping ladies. . .
The following is an actual (well, slightly embellished) series of conversations between an enthusiastic cookier (C) and her husband (H) about attending her first CookieCon.
C: OMG, there is an event coming up called CookieCon!!! Some of my favorite cookiers will be there! I have to go!!!
H: Really? They have a convention? That’s funny.
C: Oh I’m dead serious. This is amazing!!! There will be actual classes!!! I’ll be learning from the folks I follow on line. . . OMG OMG OMG
H: Huh. . . who knew? That’s cool. So it’s like a day thing?
C: No way, it says here it’s a 3-day event! There are classes, competitions and a banquet! OMG I have to text (insert name of cookie friend here).
H: Is it free?
C: Ummm, no. Looks like you have to buy a ticket, but its only $295! Wow, for 3 days of this, and dinner!!!! I have to do it!
H: $300?? Wow, OK. I mean it seems like a once in a lifetime thing, right?
C: Yeah, sure. Although I think this is the 4th one. . .
H: OK, sounds good. $300 isn’t too bad I guess. If it makes you this happy.
C: (no more responses as cookier is ignoring her husband and is engrossed online)
CookieCon Cost: $295.00
Two weeks later...
C: Hey babe, great news! Southwest is running a sale!!! My flight will only be $460 round trip!!!
H: Flight? Where are you going?
C: CookieCon!!! Oh I’m so excited!
H: Flight? Where is it???
C: Salt Lake City!!! Isn’t that exciting???
H: SLC??? I had no idea it was so far away…
C: Yeah, but I talked to (Cookie Friend) and she’s going too!!! SO I’ll have a roommate, which is great because then my room is half price!
H: (groaning) Airfare and a hotel. . . and I suppose you’ll want to eat while you’re there.
C: Haha. . . yeah, probably some. And of course, we’ll need wine money!!!
H: Of course, you will.
CookieCon Cost: $1160.00
A week later...
C: (staring at laptop) NO WAY!!! There are pre-classes at CookieCon!!! I’ll be able to learn from even more amazing cookiers!!! I can’t even. . .
H: I’m afraid too. . . are those included in your ticket?
C: No, I don’t think so. But it will totally be worth it.
H: Hehe. . . ok babe, if you say so.
CookieCon Cost: $1410.00
Three days later...
C: Wow, I just found out there’s going to be vendors!!!! Just like those trade shows you go to for work!
H: Oh cool, so you’ll at least get some free stuff.
C: No, I think they’re just selling their stuff. But I can buy stuff there and save on shipping! Score!!
H: I should have seen that coming.
CookieCon Cost: $1710.00
Two weeks later...
C: OK, it’s time to get serious. I have to start working on my sugar show entries. I’m going to need this new cutter, and this stencil. Oh, these will work perfect!!!
H: I’m not listening. . .
CookieCon Cost: $1730.00
Five days later...
C: Get a load of this!
H: How much???
C: No silly, there’s this supply store in SLC that’s quite a big deal. Word on the web is a must visit for bakers. It’s not within walking distance, so we’ll need to grab a cab or an uber. Oh wow, this is so cool.
H: Yeah, that’s how I’d describe it.
CookieCon Cost: $1880.00
A week later...
C: Need anything while I’m out?
H: Maybe, where are you headed?
C: The mall. I need to get some new outfits for Salt Lake City.
C: You know, CookieCon. I want a couple of new outfits!
CookieCon Cost: $2080.00
We revisit our couple at the conclusion of CookieCon, upon the cookier's return home...
C: And I had to get a CookieCon T-shirt, had to buy a gift for (cookie friend that she finally got to meet in person), a new suitcase to fit all this great giveaway stuff! We went out to some great restaurants for dinner!!! And so much more to show you!!! Come look!!!
H: (cracks open a beer)
Final cost of CookieCon: $1,254,093.47
C: Hey babe! I just found out there’s a Cookie Cruise coming up!!!
Ahhh, Cookie Con. The joyous occasion when hundreds upon hundreds of enthusiastic cookiers descend upon Salt Lake City to reconnect on friendships, meet new artists and refine their craft. The hustle and bustle of getting to the hotel from the airport. Getting show pieces carefully unpacked and turned in. Eagerly speculating about the swag bag!!!
And what a wonderful boon to the local economy. Between the restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, liquor stores, shops, bars, pizza joints, liquor stores . . . What a joyous occasion. Yes, the local shop owners certainly know when Amy is out of town and stock up. Wait, what? Oh . . . you thought I meant
Salt Lake. Ha! No, I meant MY local economy. Are you kidding me? DO you know how difficult it is to care for three children all by yourself? Especially when you, yourself, is the largest of the three????
So in order to survive, we had to have basic Bear Grylls level supplies. Boxes of cereal, delivery pizza, cold sodas, and copious amount of alcohol. Once the magical amount of Fireball is mixed with Domino’s, then the local dry cleaners gets an economic spike as well. It’s probably best that we skip the Q&A on that one.
Our local carpet cleaner guy knows that Sunday morning when I have to go to get Amy from the airport he only has a few hours to make sure what happened in the living room, doesn’t stay in the living room. This year the ER doctor is not getting his bonus as we did manage to escape a trip for stitches or casts.
But the cat is still missing . . . so, in some ways I’m glad I have 18 months to prepare for the next one…
Until next time….