Elkton businesses compete in 10th annual Cookie Throwdown
ELKTON — Grab a glass of milk and prepare your sweet tooth for the fight of its life as Main Street merchants participate in a bit of friendly competition to crown this year’s best cookie in town during the Cookie Throwdown from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7.
The throwdown is a fun event for cookie monsters of all ages, said Jessica Price, executive assistant at the Elkton Chamber and Alliance.
“It’s just a good, family-friendly event; it’s free, and who doesn’t like cookies?” Price said.
The throwdown began 10 years ago as a way to bring Elkton residents and visitors into The Palette & The Page, Price said.
Patti Paulus, one of the co-owners of the art shop and gallery on Main Street, said that at the time the owners all ser ved their own takes on chocolate chip cookies.
“It was just a fun thing that maybe would create some energy and some fun and bring people in. And that’s what it did,” she said.
The annual event expanded into a competition among downtown merchants over the years, where businesses could make any type or flavor of cookie — not just chocolate chip, Paulus said.
“It was about getting people to go into other places too, not just come to us,” she said.
Attendees will be given ballots that they will hole punch at each participating shop as they taste the cookies. Once they have made their rounds, people will cast their vote for what they think was the best cookie. A trophy, which is passed down annually from the previous year’s winner to the current victor, will be awarded at the end of the event.
The throwdown typically features 10 different cookies, according to Price.
“We try to keep it around that number just because it gets to be too many. People can’t eat that many,” she said.
Businesses in downtown Elkton can sign up to bake their own cookies or host someone else’s cookies. Price said non-merchants can participate if there any slots left available, but that the primary emphasis is on the merchants in order to draw people into the businesses.
“The whole reason to do it was to get people downtown to get into the shops and see what they have to offer. So, we want to make sure that the shops have first dibs if they want to make a cookie,” she said.
Each participating baker will bring at least 200 cookies for attendees to taste.
“We used to just say 100, but last year we had people that made almost 200 and they ran out,” Price said.
Bakers must also display a list of ingredients for anyone who has allergies. But Price said the list does not have to reveal the recipe itself, so participants can keep measurements and other variables to themselves.
With such a wide range of winners throughout the years, Price said there’s no single cookie flavor that has prevailed above the others.
“It’s pretty random every year,” she said. “In the very beginning, chocolate chips were winning. There was a peanut butter blossom that won. Then it got more creative. There was a molasses cookie that won. One year, one of the bakeries made a pecan pie cookie and that won.”
That last contender stands out to Price as one of her favorites.
“I really did like that pecan pie cookie because I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she said.
Throwdown participants find inspiration for their cookies in anywhere from family recipes that have been passed down through generations to creations they find online to their own eclectic concoctions, Price said.
But one of the most unique cookies Price has seen was a cookie with crab meat on it.
“Last year, we had someone who pretty much was winging it. Rob [Massimiano] at Tidewater Tattoo had a cookie that had crab meat on it,” she said. “As weird as it sounds, it actually wasn’t that bad. It came in second place.”
Price herself won the throwdown one year with her peanut butter blossom cookie, but retired from the good fight after competition steepened.
“Now that we have so many that enter, I don’t even bother,” she said.
The reigning champ of the Cookie Throwdown, The Palette & The Page, secured a win last year with co-owner Patti Paulus’s thumbprint cookies that used buttercream in the middle instead of jelly.
Paulus said she would love for The Palette & The Page to win again this year, but she also likes seeing the trophy get passed around town.
“It’s fine with me if the love is shared … Sharing the love is really important and that’s a big part of who we are,” she said.
However, Paulus did add that fellow co-owner Janet Youse, who is competing for the shop this year, is “an excellent baker” so the shop might be gearing up for back-toback victories.
Since the Cookie Throwdown’s early years, attendance has increased considerably, according to Price.
“It seems like we get more and more people, so the public really like it,” she said. “We have people that come with their own thermos of milk because they love the cookies and they want to make sure they have that experience.”
In previous years, the cookie throwdown has been a standalone event. But this year, the competition falls on the same night as Elkton’s First Friday art loop. Paulus expects larger than usual crowds to attend the throwdown and the art exhibitions around town.
Price also hopes that First Friday will bring more people to the throwdown to taste treats and explore downtown businesses.
“The more people that come down here, the more people see the new shops that we have that they may not know exist,” she said. “Anytime we can bring more people into the downtown, that’s pretty much our main goal.”
The collaboration among Elkton businesses is great for the town, Paulus said.
“We, as a gallery and the owners, are all about making downtown a place to be and a destination for shopping for unique things,” she said. “We’ve always been about supporting that in addition to supporting our artists.”
Santa will also be making an appearance at the throwdown, where he will be scouting out which cookies to keep an eye out for Christmas Eve night when he and his reindeer are flying around Cecil County.
Natalie Scheeler Ricci, owner Cookie Throwdown in 2013. of Belle Connell’s Emporium, made these salted caramel shortbread for Elkton’s