Situated in the former sanctuary of a church, the setting was far from a bar. But I was looking to order my usual all the same.
Only problem was they didn’t have it. Haven’t for nearly two years. I apologized for being so far behind the times, but the woman taking orders said others often bring it up. Traditions die hard, I guess.
“It used to be they’d ask why we couldn’t change things up and have something different,” she said. “Now they can’t believe we don’t have them.”
She was referring to Nutter Butter cookies, the peanut-shaped sandwich cookies with peanut butter filling that for some strange reason seem to appeal mainly to 7-year-olds and those who have just given blood. Though my behavior has sometimes been compared to the former, on this day I was certainly the latter, with red gauze wrapped around my left arm and a sticker on my left shirt pocket both denoting my donation to the American Red Cross.
I had a throbbing feeling in my arm where the blood had been drawn and just the slightest sense of light-headeness. I also had a nice feeling, like I had done something helpful. What I did not have was a Nutter Butter cookie.
I have nothing against the Keebler brand (those who know me will tell you I don’t discriminate when it comes to cookies), it’s just that I have grown accustomed to the package of Nutter Butter cookies served after each time I give blood.
“We get that a lot,” the Red Cross worker said with a laugh.
Some things just go together. You should eat a hot dog at a baseball game, turkey at Thanksgiving, cake on your birthday and Nutter Butter cookies after giving blood. It must be written down somewhere. Maybe the Geneva Convention.
While I certainly didn’t boycott the other cookies (after all you’ve got to fortify yourself after giving blood) I couldn’t help but think about those good, old Nutter Butters. I needed to know, like Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. It was much like I thought, maybe better.
Near the end of 2011, the American Red Cross struck a partnership with Keebler to provide snacks free of charge for its blood drives. That’s every blood drive in the nation at no cost. Before that the Red Cross paid for the snacks, including my beloved Nutter Butters. According to Kristen Stancil, Communications Program Manager with the American Red Cross, Keebler provides more than six million cookies per year, and that in-kind donation saves the Red Cross nearly $2 million annually. That’s a pretty good deal, one even my stomach can agree with.
“When we began supplying Keebler cookies in our refreshment area, most donors were very supportive of the change,” Stancil said. “From time to time, we do get asked about Nutter Butters and why we no longer have them. Once we explain the partnership, donors are appreciative of Keebler’s generosity.”
The explanation made me rue my lamentaton. After all, the event is called a blood drive, not a cookie eating contest. Blood supplies are often at their lowest during summer months and currently there is also an emergency need for eligible blood and platelet donors, so donations during this time of the year are particularly welcomed. To make an appointment or learn more about donating, you can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
You have to wait eight weeks between blood donations, so it will be a couple of months before I make my next appointment. However, my next trip to the grocery store will come much sooner. I’m thinking a certain peanut butter cookie will be on the list.
Email Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.