Leon Neyfakh tasted every variety of Pepperidge Farm cookie, and declared that his favorite is Chessmen. That’s disappointing, but I give him credit for not picking a variety of Milanos. From his piece:

All told, it took me about six hours to get through everything I’d been sent. By the time I was done, I had tried one of the forthcoming “soft dessert cookies,” three fruit cookies, all four entrants in the down-to-basics “simply scrumptious” line, five butter cookies, six chocolate-based “distinctive” cookies, eight types of nonstandard Milanos, and 10 varieties of chocolate chunk. Having done so, I felt an arguably unearned sense of accomplishment—as though I’d educated myself somehow and now knew more of the world than I used to.

In truth, all I’d done is confirm a few long-standing intuitions about the Pepperidge Farm brand. The first of these is that PF cookies are great because they manage to be refined without coming off as pretentious. This is not a trivial accomplishment. It’s hard to imagine a better example of middlebrow philistinism than an elaborately crafted cookie that’s been randomly named after a fancy European city—the kind of cookie that Nabokov’s Charlotte Hazewould keep in her cupboard and nibble while listening to the vulgar ringing of her wind chimes. But something rescues Pepperidge Farm cookies from evoking such lowly associations. And having eaten them all, I think that thing is that … they’re cookies. By their very nature, they are guileless and eager to please, and insofar as they play at sophistication, they do so with jauntiness, and without desperation. The Montieri, for instance, is not trying to fool anyone with its fancy lattice patterning—it just wants you to think it’s pretty.

Listen, this isn’t hard. Everyone with good taste agrees that the Bordeaux — the crispy, buttery, slightly cinnamony wafer — is the greatest Pepperidge Farm cookie. Thin. Understated. Elegant. Best when refrigerated.

When I was a kid and watched the old codger in the Pepperidge Farm commercials, I would daydream about how great it would be to be to go over the river and through the New England woods to Thanksgiving dinner at Pepperidge Farm. I was a very suggestible child. I also thought Country Time tasted like that good old fashioned lemonade. They probably served Country Time at Pepperidge Farm, with their delicious cookies, straight from the oven at the red farmhouse.

Anyway, Bordeaux. That’s your Pepperidge Farm cookie, Chester.

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