Spill one for Jackson’s latest bag

Spill one for Jackson’s latest bag
Spill one for Jackson’s latest bag

As many Little Rockers will dimly attest, when the Jackson Cookie Company left the North Shore in 2004, more than just a local business was lost. The sweet smells wafting through the capital, downtown breezes sound like a joke now, but it was no joke. For decades, the smell of Jackson’s “premium since 1933” cookies wafted across the Arkansas River. If that sure made everyone salivate, what chamber of commerce wouldn’t salivate at the thought of being able to brag that their city literally smells like cookies? And nothing is more gluten-free than wind.

With the closure of North Little Rock’s Jackson Cookie Company in 2004, “biscuit-scented air” hasn’t been one of the metro’s attributes for nearly twenty years. With this crumbling cookie, citizens had to come to terms with feeling downtown things ranging from bad at worst to average at best.

But fragrances are among the most powerful memory triggers, and those on the subway who wanted to stroll down Bakery Street could always just grab one of Jackson’s dwindling brands left on store shelves for a fix. . Not the Lemon Jumble Cookies – one of the company’s most unique flavors was somehow among the first to be purchased. No chocolate chips – the company’s take on this pillar was all average, though surely missed by some. It was Jackson’s entry into the humble vanilla wafer market that became the company’s apparent flagship and its oldest brand. So far. And while Jumbles were a lemony delight straight out of the bag, Jackson’s “old fashioned” vanilla wafers weren’t just bag-ready, they had the added mojo of being the key ingredient in the ” nana puddin”, pies and even fruit cakes. More often than not, these dishes have been seen during the holidays – usually made by someone’s chick, a lady who would probably have called you puddin’. It’s something strong.

So even with the business collapsing from the banks of the Arkansas River years ago, the year-end news of Jackson’s vanilla wafer shutdown hit the town hard. The local connection had been gone for nearly two decades, but Arkansawyers on social media lamented when Arkansas Times reported that Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers would be no more. The city again emotionally poured a glass of milk for their lost mate. One remembered their foreign student being intrigued by a cookie-scented town and teaching him how to make banana pudding. Another remembered the smell of the scent factory while trying to sneak into the nearby Club Cameo.

And Jackson’s Cookies weren’t just a source of town goodness. At a time when people didn’t have the world of commerce at their fingertips, an era before full Walmartization, the Jackson company penetrated the rest of the state through a network of rural grocery stores. Growing up, my best friend’s dad drove a Jackson’s Cookie truck. This deep-thinking and extremely witty man was good with numbers and a tax preparer by his side. He had a brilliant mind and once even tried unsuccessfully to patent an early version of the disposable razor. But he spent his days driving around eastern Arkansas in a peeled, unair-conditioned cookie truck held together by wire, delivering cookies by the box. As a boy uneducated in the ways and means of capitalism, I couldn’t understand why Jackson allowed such a crummy vehicle to represent his brand. Now I can vaguely assume that my friend’s dad was an “independent contractor” and allowed such freedoms in exchange for a lack of health insurance or a full forty-hour work week – Walmartization was already here. .

Sometimes my friend and I were invited to follow his dad’s cookie route. The first leg of the journey began with a visit to the source of the smell – the North Little Rock Bakery. As boxes of cookies were loaded onto the truck by a dolly, the two of us poking sticks gazed in pie-eyed wonder across the river at the Little Rock skyline. If we could do it there, we agreed, surely we could do it anywhere. But there would later be time for such grand dreams. With the cookies stacked up, it was time to deliver them to the starving people of our agrarian homeland.

Two chubby school kids in the back of a cookie truck was not the Wonka-esque heaven one might imagine. There was no cookie eating allowed, and also no place to sit. So we stood the whole time, rolling along bumpy gravel roads, with tall stacks of cookie tins always threatening to crush us in a cloud of powdered sugar, like the tastiest Sword of Damocles ever. . The aluminum floor, ceiling and walls also warmed up quite well in the summer – so much so that it was almost a pleasure to get out of the back of the truck into the blazing sun to haul heavy cookie tins in the stores.

When I hear timers running on modern delivery trucks to make sure there’s no slacking off as drivers deliver packages to front doors, I think of our cookie deliveries. There was always time for my friend’s dad to tell the grocers a few jokes — “leg fags,” as he generously called them — or to flirt with the clerks. I’m sure people like him were behind the installation of these truck timers.

Most of our delivery route was to small, isolated one-story wooden shacks. They would be surrounded by so much farmland that one could not imagine that they could have had customers. But they did. Before the term “desert food” came into parlance, even the most rural outposts of Arkansas had staple stores — and “staple foods” definitely included cookies. Unincorporated Casscoe in rural Arkansas County, for example, even had at least of them area stores – T. Ray’s between Casscoe and Roe, and Cloud’s in Casscoe proper.

As the day progressed, the cookie truck grew increasingly hot and dusty along the rough country roads, as did my friend and I. Other boxes of Jackson would be delivered – vanilla sandwich, oatmeal, chocolate chips and the legendary Jumble, a cookie that was just too weird and requiring too much history to survive in Century’s limited shelf space. 21. And of course Jackson’s famous vanilla wafer, a cookie that required no history. A basic cookie in the best sense of the word. A cookie with such a strong nostalgic value that a state that hasn’t produced one for 20 years is still mourning its loss.

Now most of these little backcountry stores are collapsing. My friend’s father is long gone; his unsightly cookie truck left long before that. And, having realized that he could actually make it anywhere, my friend also left the state a long time ago. The North Little Rock Bakery and its famous flavors are two distant memories in central Arkansas. Now the last remnant of Jackson is also gone. So, how are you. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate a vanilla wafer from Jackson. But I really want them now that they’re gone.

. Spill Jacksons latest bag

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