The World’s Most Expensive Cookie Recipe

Posted on Thursday 4 February 2010

How a big name company took a negative false rumor, and turned it in to a positive marketing tool

choc-chip

Have you ever received that chain letter email about Niemen Marcus charging some poor, unknowing woman $250 for their cookie recipe, when the woman understood it to only be $2.50 for the recipe? And the woman was so angered by NM’s lack of customer service, she sent the story out to everyone she knew, asking for help to spread the word? If you know what I’m talking about, be so kind as to skip down past the italics. And if you haven’t received it, here’s a version of it from my own inbox (typos and idiosyncrasies included as is) :

When decent people get screwed over, this is the result!

A little background: Neiman-Marcus, if you don’t know already, is a very expensive store; they sell your typical $8.00 T-shirt for $50.00.

Let’s let them have it! THIS IS A TRUE STORY!

My daughter and I had just finished a salad at a Neiman-Marcus Cafe In Dallas, and we 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, but you can buy The Recipe.’ Well, I asked how much, and she responded, ‘ Only two fifty – it’s a Great deal!’ I agreed to that, and told her to just add it to my Tab.

Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement, and the Neiman-Marcus Charge was $285.00! I looked again, and I 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 was outrageous! I called Neiman’s Accounting Department and told them the waitress said it was ‘two-fifty’, which clearly does not mean ‘two hundred and fifty dollars’ by any reasonable 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 just said, Okay, you folks got my $250, and now I’m going to have $250 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 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus…for free. She replied, ‘I wish you wouldn’t do this.’ I said, ‘Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you ripped me off and slammed down the phone.

So here it is!
NEIMAN-MARCUS COOKIES (Recipe may be halved)

2 cups butter
24 oz. Chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. Soda (baking)
1 tsp. Salt
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
2 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. Vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. 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.

Yes, it’s okay to admit that you did receive it, believe it and in fact pass it along to everyone you know in hopes that you could out this big, bad, greedy department store and help this woman get her revenge. Staying true to their brand, with real finesse, this is how Niemen Marcus so appropriately responded on their website: (Pasted from Niemen’s site)

NM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE An urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven’t heard the story, we won’t perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It’s a terrific recipe. And it’s absolutely free.”

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie. Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Visit our Restaurant section for more recipes along with information on cooking classes, catering and restaurant details.

Considering I received this and immediately forwarded the email on to a bunch of my friends without thinking twice about it, it just goes to show how quickly negative PR can spread. Now that we have these global-social-networking-internet tools, information spreads faster than ever before. It’s a good lesson to keep an eye out for what’s being said about your company or brand, and who’s saying it. So you can, as Niemen Marcus gracefully did, respond appropriately. For more background and interesting versions of this “urban myth” check out this entry on Snopes.

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