--THE $250 COOKIE: THE FACT OF THE MATTER--
Tired of that bogus $250 cookie story filling up your email box? You're in good company!

So, how did this rumor get started anyway?

Pat Zajac, Neiman Marcus spokesperson in Dallas, said that the tall tale has been circulating since she came to work for the chain in 1986. The first newspaper story she saw on the bogus cookie recipe appeared in 1988.

Zajac said that in the past few weeks, her office has been swamped with calls from the media trying to verify the story. She speculates that the letter recently has been circulating on electronic services like some "computer virus." Needless to say, Neiman Marcus is not pleased with the rumor's persistence or tone. "We are concerned," said Zajac. "We like to think we are accommodating to customers and provide value at a fair price and quality at the same time. We want to create good will. . . . No one has ever showed us a bill where they were wrongly charged for a chocolate chip recipe. If they ever appear then we would be happy to look at the disputed charge."

Zajac explained that Neiman Marcus, as one of the nation's leading department stores, is proud of its customer service record and would quickly satisfy someone who had been incorrectly billed. "The interesting thing in this phenomena is that no one ever knows the exact source of this letter. The information is anywhere between third- and 17th-hand information. There has never been a Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that we sold for $250. Never." When it comes to signature dishes, Neiman Marcus is most famous for its Orange Souffle Ring and its Caramel Souffle Ring. (Anyone interested in getting a copy of these recipes- free of charge- can write to: Neiman Marcus Food Service Division, 1618 Main St., Dallas, TX 75201.)

The Neiman Marcus Cookie caper is remarkably similar to another rumor that circulated several years ago about the recipe for Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chip Cookies. And veterans of the food world say the story formula goes back to the 1930s, when a similar tale was told about the Waldorf Astoria's Red Velvet Cake. A student of rumors, or urban myths, said that the Neiman Marcus incident meets many of the requirements for sustaining a bogus story.

Chaytor Mason, USC professor of human factors-psychology said that the subject of a rumor is usually famous or attractive. And while circulating a fiction via an anonymous letter is somewhat unusual, it makes sense because "generally we place more value and validity on anything we read."

HERE ARE SOME FACTS RELATING TO THE $250 COOKIE:

* Neiman Marcus does not sell recipes from its restaurants. The department store gives them away for free to anyone who asks.

* There is no "Neiman Marcus Cafe" at any of the chains three Dallas-area stores. Instead, the restaurants are named Zodiac, Zodiac at North Park and The Woods.

* Neiman Marcus does not sell or serve cookies at any of its restaurants.

* There is no such thing as a "Neiman-Marcus Cookie." (And Neiman Marcus no longer has a hyphen in its title.)

* Neiman Marcus does not take Visa.

* The fashion cognoscenti would know immediately that you cannot buy a scarf at Neiman Marcus for $20 as the letter writer stated. Scarf prices start at $40 and quickly run as high as $215.


Now, the (alleged) story!

This is reported to be a true story. It falls under the catagory of Sweet Revenge and is, I think, a peice of american that one could really sink ones teeth into. Feel free to pass it on!!!

My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not." Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, "Yes." I asked how much, and she responded, "Only two fifty, it's a great deal!" I said with approval, just add it to my tab.

Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00." That's outrageous!! I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was "two-fifty," which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any *POSSIBLE* interpretation of the phrase. Nieman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe - we absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas, I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the State's Attorney General for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want, we don't give a crap, and we're not refunding your money." I waited, thinking of how I could get even, or even try and get any of my money back. I just said,"Okay, you folks got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus......for free. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this." I said, "Well, you should have thought of that before you ripped me off, and slammed down the phone on her.

So, here it is!!! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250 dollars for this... I don't want Nieman-Marcus to *ever* get another penny off of this recipe....

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Now, the Recipe!

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal **
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

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Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars.

Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.

Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts.

Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.

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