Circulating via email, the 'true' story of the infamous $250 cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus (or Mrs. Fields), actually a decades-old tall tale kept alive by the eternal spirit of revenge.
Description: Urban legend
Circulating since: 1996 (this version)
Status: False (see details below)
Email text contributed anonymously, Nov. 1997:
FWD: Free Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe
This is a true story... Please forward it to everyone that you can.... You will have to read it to believe it....
My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown "I'm afraid not." Well" I said, "would you let me buy the recipe?"
With a cute smile, she said YES". I asked how much and she responded, "Only two fifty, it's a great deal!" I said with approval, "just add it to my tab".. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00". That's outrageous!!!
I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them that the waitress said it was "two-fifty," which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any POSSIBLE interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge.. They would not refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe - we absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas. I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the State's Attorney General for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want, we dont give a damn, and we're not refunding your money." I waited a moment, thinking of how I could get even,or even try to get any of my money back. I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00, and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun."
I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus... for free..She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this" I said, "Well you should have thought of that before you ripped me off", and slammed down the phone on her.. So, here it is!!! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250.00 dollars for this... I don't want Neiman-Marcus to ever get another penny off of this recipe....
(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet..Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.. Have Fun!!!
This is not a joke - this is a true story... Ride free citizens!!!! This isn't some stupid chain letter either.. pass it on.. if you don't, you won't die or get dumped.. you'll just do the world an injustice...
Analysis: Folks who've been on the Internet any length of time are probably inured to this "true story," generically known as "The $250 Cookie Recipe" and currently associated with the Neiman Marcus company, though it was the bane of cookie diva Mrs. Fields throughout the 1980s.
In case you're among the shrinking few who hadn't figured it out yet, it isn't really true. It's a classic urban legend in fact, a variant of a tale folklorists have traced as far back as 1948, when the ridiculously expensive recipe yielded a red velvet fudge cake supposedly served at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (asking price for the recipe at the time: $25).
The newer, adjusted-for-inflation version (email reproduced above) continues to make the online rounds, with its popularity showing few signs of waning despite repeated disproofs these past few decades. It clearly touches an emotional chord. To paraphrase the ancient Klingon proverb, "Revenge is a dish best served warm out of the oven."
As for the recipe itself, I haven't tried the cookies, but by most accounts it yields damn good ones (and plenty of them). No one knows whose kitchen it came from, but we do know it wasn't the Neiman Marcus company, whose restaurants didn't even sell chocolate chip cookies back when this legend first began circulating. Neiman Marcus chefs did create a chocolate chip cookie recipe after the fact, however, which the company now distributes free of charge on its website as an antidote, if you will, to this defamatory urban legend. Bon appetit!
Get the Real Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
Dallas Morning News, 30 September 2008
100-Year-Old Neiman Marcus Resigned to Cookie Story that Won't Crumble
Denver Post, 24 August 2007
Cookie Rumor Crumbles
Tribune Media Services, 28 March 1986
Red Velvet Cake: A Legendary Treat
NY Daily News, 28 February 1996
Last updated: 12/06/12