When the Christmas season came around in 2008, I followed family protocol and began the traditional search for pfeffernüsse. The first thing that was I noticed was that the usual Archway display was missing. Then I did find a few packs of other Archway cookies mingled with the seasonal treats. Ok, so maybe weather was a factor in getting the goodies on the shelves. Hope springs eternal. Rationalizing springs the same.
Tempus fugit. Time flies (even more so during the Christmas rush). Where were the pfeffernuesse? For those of you unacquainted with this delicacy, click here. In my family, these cookies are as important as eggnog. Can you imagine a Christmas where you would not be able to find eggnog anywhere? Can you imagine asking store personnel never having heard of eggnog?
I took it upon myself to unravel this mystery, assuming I could find pfefferneuse on line somewhere. My astonishment at being unable to was quickly overcome. I discovered that Archway cookies had ‘gone under’ falling victim to the troubled financial times. It was so much worse than ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles’. Now it was about people being out of work. Generations of people I didn’t know had been contributing to my family’s holiday; I was disappointed by being out of cookies. These people were most likely much more than disappointed by being out of jobs. Hundreds of jobs.
Here’s where things get interesting. I kept an eye out for stories about the Archway plant in Ohio. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear…good news? In the dog-eat-dog business world someone finally said let’s have a happy ending. And so it was on the 8th of December, 2008 that the big company (Lance, Inc) bought the little company (Archway Cookies) and reopened the cookie factory in Ashland, Ohio. They hired people back at the same salary as before. And then they called a meeting at the local high school and handed out $1500 Visa cards to the workers. When I read the story, I cried. Who goes out of their way to make Christmas miracles happen? I know that God does; I love finding His fingerprints in things. But it is a rare treat to find such serendipity in cookie crumbs. Pfefferneusse have taken on a new and much deeper meaning.
Now in December 2009, I have gone forth in search of pfeffernuesse. I have found them, bought them and stashed them away. I left some on the shelves so others can take part of the tradition. I will go back, look again and get more if supplies are available. Just so I can share with other family members that couldn’t find them. Or I can share them with people who have never ever even heard of pfeffernuesse, can’t pronounce pfeffernuesse or otherwise not enjoyed them.
Yes Virginia, there are pfeffernuesse.