March 17, 2023 | OPINION | By Sam Treat
The hierarchy of sweet treats – what many would refer to as dessert – is by no means set in stone. Subject to time, place, mood, level, type of intoxication, and so many more factors, the perfect dessert is an impossible quest. Philosophy majors reading this be damned; I consider myself a dessert relativist; I let my mood, desires, and impulses at any given time determine my preferred method of sugary indulgence.
My evening sortie to Mountain Mary’s Cookies was inspired by such an impulse. Despite being inundated with requests and demands about where I should go next and who I should tailor my writing to (sorry, vegetarians), I let my heart choose. Searching for inspiration while driving down Tejon St. as so many of us do, my eyes scoured over one tired haunt after another: Josh & John’s, Skirted Heifer, Chipotle, etc., until they came to rest longingly on the building that Mountain Mary’s calls home.
In the goal of keeping this a food column and not a critique of downtown Colorado Springs urban planning, I will not share the great lengths I went through to find parking within reasonable walking distance (hint: turn lane, plus blinkers: free parking). The windows of Mountain Mary’s proudly proclaim “Shop Small. Shop Here.” It started in 1986 in Fort Collins, Colo. with one small stand in a mall. Now, there are twenty-four locations across the U.S., mainly concentrated around the American Southwest.
Some may point to that as usurping the idea of ‘small business,’ but the feel of a local bakery was undeniable when I walked into Mountain Mary’s – as it turns out, each franchise is independently owned and operated. The sweet aroma that danced around my nostrils was one that transported me to simpler times. Gone now is the era childhood innocence in which just one bite of a good cookie could leave me smiling for hours. Now, it takes far more than just one bite: I bought eight cookies.
Customers at Mountain Mary’s are greeted with an almost overwhelming amount of cookie options: over twenty different flavors, to be exact. The display housing these cookies was almost as impressive and awe-inspiring as the cookies themselves. Each type of cookie was neatly aligned next to another, creating a vast cookie-scape that all eyes gravitate to upon entry.
I started my cookie shopping with some of the basics – chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodle. Soon, though, I found myself treading in uncharted waters. Cookie names like ‘Darth Vader,’ ‘Key Lime Pie,’ and ‘Blueberry Oatmeal’ caused confusion, disgust, and intrigue, respectively. With the help of a very knowledgeable and kind employee, I was guided to crowd favorites, staff picks, and best sellers.
While I do not have the time to go into detail about each cookie I tried, I want to provide the highlights and lowlights in the aim of guiding you to the cookie that is right for your mouth.
The classics were all phenomenal – you truly can’t go wrong. The chocolate chip cookie was perfectly golden brown and the chips were melted but still firm to bite. This cookie would pair great with some Josh & John’s ice cream (which is available at Mountain Mary’s), especially in the form of a sandwich with your favorite cookie.
The snickerdoodle had just the right bite of cinnamon, enough to make me pause and go “Oh that’s cinnamon,” but not enough that I thought, “That’s too much cinnamon.”
Peanut Butter cookies, which are often overlooked, get a makeover here. The Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter was phenomenal, with the perfect balance of sweet and salty.
The last classic, oatmeal raisin, gets a harsh rap from many, but I am an unabashed oatmeal raisin-lover. As usual, the sweet salty goodness that is oatmeal raisin did not disappoint. The subtle squish of the raisins; the crunch of the baked oatmeal; is there anything better?
Moving on to some of the more unique creations at Mary’s, I tried a cookie called the Darth Vader. This was a double chocolate cookie, dipped in chocolate, with chocolate chips, and sprinkled with Oreo. As decadent as this sounds, the result fell flat. It tasted bland, boring, and devoid of the vibrancy I was hoping for.
The s’mores cookie, however, was a different story. What essentially is a s’more baked into a cookie transforms into so much more once bitten into. Dessert medleys can be hit or miss – but this sugary combination of campfire delight and traditional sweetness left me craving more.
For those inclined to the candy-cookie combo, the Snickers Infused cookie would be more down your lane. With pieces of deconstructed Snickers bars littered throughout the cookie dough, the mixture of caramel, peanuts, chocolate, and cookie was a bit too much for even my sweet tooth.
However, for those who believe that Snickers Satisfies (trademark), this cookie could open worlds. Finally, I tried the Blueberry Oatmeal cookie, which lived up to its name as it tasted just like a blueberry crisp (with oatmeal topping) and would be a fantastic, lighter option.
With so many desserts attempting to imitate or incorporate other desserts to become better desserts, it can be hard for dessert lovers to know where to turn. Fortunately, Mountain Mary’s Cookies offers a plethora of options for the sugar-cravers to choose from. From traditional cookies to gourmet options, these quarter-pound cookies are more than enough to satisfy (they also have edible cookie dough). But for those who need more, indulge in an Avalanche (two cookies with buttercream frosting between them) or a Josh & John’s ice-cream sandwich.
Whatever your fix may be, if it involves baked goodness, look no further than Mountain Mary’s.