Monday, August 30, 2010

Whippets Rule, Cookies Crumble!

At four bucks a pop, justifying the presence of the box in the grocery bag has become a rather creative endeavor. Here's my story and I'm sticking to it!

When I venture out to forage and hunt for food, typically, I am alone.

Vulnerable. Exposed.

The family is back at the homestead, safe and warm, comfortably nestled, as the hunt, inevitably, leads me into the precarious confines of the local grocery store. As I cross the rusty threshold of the automatic sliding door, I lift myself into a state of heightened awareness, whereupon, I alertly and conscientiously begin my tour of aisles.

Natural selection, do your worst!

The onslaught is omni-directional. Camouflaged and perched strategically on shelf tops, foods assail me from all sides. Calmly, while battling to suppress gluttonous impulses in favor of reason, my rattling grocery cart negotiates a flurry of extravagances and indulgences; spready and bready, munchy and crunchy, toasty and roasty, freezy and squeazy!

Diligently, I concentrate on the nutritious and necessary staples. Though deliberate, I am unsuspecting and entirely innocent.

Generally, I'm somewhere between the canned corn and bottled water when I first detect the faint calls. Over and over, tentatively at first and then, more assertively, my name is being repeated by a small voice.

Work with me.

Of course, my first reaction is to do what you would surely do, ignore it. But the longer I ignore the waif-like calls, the more they implore and compel me. Finally, when the choice is no longer mine to make, I stop and unwillingly orient myself. The reluctant search begins.

It's not the bags of pasta; it's not the cheese slices, or juices. By the time I'm locked on to the trail of the sound, it hits me; I realize I'm like the rat in a learned helplessness experiment; nothing I do alters the fact I'm destined to replay the same scenario each time I shop for groceries.

My seach ends, knowingly, in front of the Whippets, where I stand with a sympathetic scowl. "Take us home," they whimper. I am only human, after all.

They smile from the top of my over-stuffed cart.

For many years and, perhaps, still today, the Whippet has been the top-selling cookie in Quebec.

Whippets rule!

Invented in 1927 by Theophile Viau and apparently named for the breed of dog he loved, the Whippet is an unfairly treacherous mixture of pure chocolate, marshallow and biscuit. Some say it's the pure chocolate that's most addictive. The Viau cookie company was bought by Imasco in 1969 and it, in turn, was purchased by Culinar in 1983. The Culinar plant on the street named after Theophile Viau, produced 50 million Whippets a year. At least half of them were capable of pronouncing my name.

In 2001, Culinar was bought by Dare. Since then, the company has introduced several Whippet variations, including "Triple Dark Chocolate", "Strawberry", "Raspberry", "Black Forest" and "Dark Original". Why, oh why? I wince at the thought of ingesting anything but "Original".

Dare closed the Viau plant in 2003.

On the morning of Thursday May 12th, 2005, I was privileged to visit the Dare plant in St-Lambert, Quebec, that produced the Whippet. Relentless rows of biscuits, rounded puffs of marsmallow and drizzling chocolate; what a sight! The feature segment I put together with my cameraman, aired on a Montreal morning show, May 25th.

It's hard to believe others are being deprived, but the Whippet cannot be found on the store shelves of many Canadian provinces. Its supposed substitute, the all too forgettable Viva Puff, doesn't even come close.

Though a staunch fan of the dome-like delicacy, I'm guilty of having underestimated its cultural stature. Like so many things, the Whippet is unique to Quebec. It's also unique to a healthy diet.

Shake not your heads, according to nutritional information provided on the Dare website, two Whippets provide you with 8 per cent of your daily recommended iron intake. Sure beats spinach!

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