COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The dream of a group of third graders to designate the sugar cookie as Ohio’s official state cookie has crumbled to pieces — at least for now.
After a jam-packed period that culminated in a 17-hour session Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers failed for the fourth time since 2019 to carry the state sugar cookie bill over the finish line.
The masterminds behind the bill, third-grade students at All Saints School in Cincinnati, pitched to lawmakers a simple recipe – sugar, flour, butter, eggs and vanilla – after their research revealed the Buckeye State lacked an official cookie. Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), one of the bill’s primary sponsors, called the third graders “a wonderful example of democracy at work.”
“As legislators, we have a responsibility to support and promote democracy within the state,” Miranda said. “In giving these young constituents the experience of the bill-making process, we encourage future civic engagement and involvement in state policy-making.”
Finding other “wonderful symbols” like the cardinal as Ohio’s state bird and tomato juice as the state’s beverage, the All Saints students looked to Ohio history for inspiration. Since no stores existed when settlers first came to Ohio, families grew their own food, even producing flour, eggs and milk for themselves.
“Sugar was considered a special product and even valuables were traded along with their own goods,” the group wrote. “Consequently, having a sugar cookie, also known back then as a plunket, was considered a treat.”
The third graders landed on the sugar cookie because of its sheer simplicity, too, they told lawmakers. While Akron residents might enjoy the Quaker Oatmeal cookie and Cincinnatians go for Busken Bakery cookies, those recipes aren’t identifiable by all Ohioans, they argued.
Like Ohio’s state tree, the buckeye, the All Saints students said they could have opted for a peanut butter-type cookie. But that would not appeal to someone with a peanut allergy, they said.
“The sugar cookie and its numerous varieties appeal to countless tastes whether in simplest form, with sprinkles or chips, or cut out and decorate with icing and multitudes of differing candies,” they wrote. “The diversity reaches everyone, while a more specific cookie does not reflect the whole state.”
The Ohio House gave its nearly unanimous stamp of approval to the sugar cookie bill on Dec. 1 after the provision was folded into Senate Bill 278, which designates the first full week of February as “Ohio Burn Awareness Week.”
In typical lame-duck session fashion, the provisions of SB 278 specific to burn awareness were rolled into a separate piece of legislation, House Bill 423, to expedite its passage. The three-line, 28-word sentence deeming Ohio the sugar cookie state, however, did not make the cut.
Miranda said she is willing to work with companies that raised concerns about the ingredient of butter, with some suggesting “butter substitute” as a more versatile alternative.
“This is a win-win for both students who have been a part of the law making process and for business across the state who can now capitalize on the new state cookie venture,” Miranda said.
One such Ohio-based grocery store chain to rally behind the state sugar cookie bill and its recipe was Kroger, whose spokesperson encouraged shoppers to find cookie ingredients at their local Kroger.
“Baking cookies together is a beloved holiday tradition for people across America,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “From chocolate chip and potato chip to snickerdoodles and sugar, we know everyone has a favorite cookie – and each family has a special recipe to create their perfect confection.”
For the sugar cookie to officially earn the title of Ohio’s state cookie, Miranda and her co-sponsor Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) will have to start from scratch and re-introduce the bill in the New Year.