For the first time, Yale students will have the power to decide just how the cookie crumbles.
On Wednesday during lunch in Commons Dining Hall, two pastry chefs from the Yale Bakery offered students free cookies in hopes of answering the age-old question: crunchy or chewy? After a blind taste test, students were given a questionnaire that asked them to choose their favorite of the two cookie recipes. The winning cookie will be served in Yale’s dining halls every week going forward on “Chocolate Chip Cookie Wednesday.” According to Culinary Operations Manager Veronica Arcoraci, this type of outreach is part of a broader effort on the part of Yale Dining to incorporate student opinion in its menu-planning.
“The bake shop is currently located in the basement of Commons, and many people don’t even know [it exists],” Arcoraci said. “We wanted to get them out and meet with students to get feedback.”
Students crowded around the booth to taste the cookies and mark their ballots, filling out the bubble next to their preferred cookie — Option A or Option B. The eight-question survey also asked students to rank other Yale bakery dishes, including danishes, cobblers and crisps on a scale of “Dislike,” “They’re Ok” and “Love!” Students were also asked open-ended questions about their three favorite cupcakes, three favorite cookies or bars and all-time favorite dessert.
Rusty Hamilton, one of the Yale bakers, said this type of interaction allows the Yale Bakery to better serve the students. He said his team does not have the opportunity to see what foods are popular and which are uneaten in dining halls on a regular basis.
Hamilton said he hopes this will be one of many events that allow him to take a break from baking to interact with students.
Students interviewed said they enjoyed the cookies and were happy to share their opinions.
“We feel like we have an input, which is kind of exciting,” Jillian Kravatz ’17 said. She added that she was not familiar with the Yale Bakery before but hopes to get involved in the future.
Ryan Dailey ’15 said he appreciated the outreach effort, but is unsure how effective it will be at improving the quality of dining hall fare.
Shaunak Bakshi ’15 said he hopes there will be more of this type of event in the future. Since students are the “customers,” the food should reflect their tastes, he said.
Still, Pauline Marcou GRD ’15 said the buzz around the event was slightly misleading. Because the booth was located inside Commons, the cookies were not truly “free” because students had to use meal swipes to access them, she said.
Students were divided on which cookie they preferred. Irene Chung ’17 said both versions tasted pretty similar. Hamilton said he preferred the consistency and flavor of Option A, while Kravatz said she preferred Cookie B.
When asked for her own opinion, Arcoraci said she does not want to weigh in on the debate because she wants the decision to be left to students.
The final question on the survey invited students to submit their email address for a chance to win a box of two dozen Yale Bakery cookies of their choice.
During the academic year, Yale Dining serves more than 14,000 meals per day.