Feeding the masses
February 19, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Is it weird to offer home-made cookies to authors when they're signing my books?

Alright, so here's the thing. I really like feeding people, and, fortunately, I'm an excellent cook. Coworkers come running when they hear I've brought cookies in.

I'm going to a comic book convention this weekend (NY Comic Con) and I know authors/artists often end up sitting for hours on end signing book after book. Would it be strange/creepy for me to offer cookies to them when getting them to sign my comic books? Is this like one of those "don't take candy from strangers" situations? I don't want to come across as the creepy girl forcing cookies upon them...
posted by Samantha to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You don't know if they have any allergies, and they don't know if you're one of those crazy obsessive types who loves them enough to want to poison them. Your showing up as a fan is probably appreciation enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:03 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


My mom's a teacher who has gotten many gifts of homemade baked goods from students over the years. She graciously accepts them, writes a lovely thank-you note, and pretty uniformly throws them out untouched. Unless she has a personal relationship with the parent of the student, it's just too risky eating something that could have almost anything in it.

While teacher != artist/author, I'd think that similar reasoning would apply. They'll recognize that it's 99% certain that you're making a sweet gesture, but you don't want to monkey around with that other 1%.
posted by crinklebat at 10:13 PM on February 19, 2007


I can't speak for authors but musicians in my life really aren't interested in gifts, particularly food which has an additional safety factor working against it. I say don't bother.
posted by loiseau at 10:16 PM on February 19, 2007


If you just hand over the cookie and walk away you're probably good. If you stand and watch expectantly while they try to avoid offending you by not eating immediately, then that might get weird.
posted by scheptech at 10:17 PM on February 19, 2007


Well, I've been to a few comicbook conventions and I would say that if there is a crowd where this might be acceptable it's probably the comicbook convention crowd. I don't mean to offend anyone, I've attended the Chicago comic con. many times so I'm grouping myself here. That being said, I would still expect a 95% rejection / throwaway rate. Also, if it were me I would want so badly to throw it away but force myself to eat it if you stood and watched or something, so if you DO end up going for it, hand the cookie off and say "you can eat it later if you get hungry" or something and leave, don't make them feel like they need to eat it in front of you.
posted by dujoducom at 10:38 PM on February 19, 2007


It sounds cute. But also creepy. I do agree with scheptech... if you stare at them & wait for them to eat it, they might get worried about what you put inside. If you just give them as a nice gift without an ounce of pressure attached then it will probably come across best. Well, that's my take anyhow... FWIW.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:41 PM on February 19, 2007


Sadly, the consensus seems to be it's kinda creepy and futile. I'll stick to feeding the people I know personally, for now :)
posted by Samantha at 10:45 PM on February 19, 2007


Actually, I don't think you should give up on the idea since your heart is in the right place. Just don't be offended if people don't understand... some people are just paranoid & it's not your issue. I think if it makes you happy to bake stuff for people, you should do it. Get joy out of doing it without expecting anything beyond that. I'm sure there are some people who will truly appreciate it. Just not every time.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:56 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine used to own a bookstore that hosted lots of authors for readings/signings, and she has several stories about fans who brought food for favorite writers... all of it graciously accepted, and all of it thrown away untouched.
posted by scody at 11:03 PM on February 19, 2007


Maybe you could compromise by presenting them with something shrinkwrapped, eg chocolates.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:04 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was Kathy Bates weird in Misery?
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


If it were me, I'm not so sure I'd be afraid of deliberate poisoning as I would be either that it would taste lousy or that the person preparing it had been careless and it had gotten contaminated accidentally. Which is to say that I am more worried about stupidity than malice -- but stupidity is dangerous enough.

I agree with everyone that I wouldn't want to take the chance.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:25 PM on February 19, 2007


Maybe you could compromise by presenting them with something shrinkwrapped, eg chocolates.

Problem solved!
posted by nomis at 11:28 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hah, I really thought that was going to be a link to Noka chocolates.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:37 PM on February 19, 2007


You know, now that I think about it, I did share my (takeout) bowl of hot & sour soup with Jim Carroll when I met him at a reading/signing many years ago. Of course, if any author is unlikely to be too worried about potential health risks posed by eating something given to him by a fan, it is probably Jim Carroll.
posted by scody at 12:23 AM on February 20, 2007


You should look at it from the other person's point of view. What if I walked up to you and handed you a cookie? Or even something pre-packaged. Would you really be willing to eat it?
posted by Cog at 12:47 AM on February 20, 2007


If you were walking round the convention with a box of your own cookies and eating them yourself, and then sharing them with people in line, then I'd say that was cool. I'd also think that a gift of cookies would be cool, too. But I'm not paranoid about poisonings, and my only allergy is seafood (and you'd have to be way strange to put prawns in a cookie).

As an aside, UK cricket commentators on the radio used to get sent cakes all the time. "And here we are at the Oval. Not much going on on the field right now. Ah, there goes a number 36 bus. And we're eating a lovely cake sent in by Mrs Wrigglesworth of Wakefield. Beautifully light lemon drizzle cake. Just the ticket with a nice cup of tea."
posted by handee at 1:39 AM on February 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, it seems that the Test Match Special team do still get sent cakes. Including one from the Queen.
posted by handee at 1:45 AM on February 20, 2007


I'm an author. Here's *my* personal feeling: A lot of it depends on the setting. If it's a small event at a "Mom and Pop" store and the person who brought the snack has a relationship with the owners, I'm okay with it.

If, however, I'm sitting in a big B&N and a stranger brings me cookies, it makes me a little wary. Seems just a tad too personal.

>> I'm sure your intentions are good, though, so don't take it personally if your gesture doesn't receive the kind of response you might like.
posted by gb77 at 4:01 AM on February 20, 2007


I can't help feeling that this discussion might've gone another way if the issue was not home-made cookies, but home-brewed beer...
posted by kmennie at 4:20 AM on February 20, 2007


Might I suggest a very small bag of locally roasted coffee or another local treat, shop sealed?

The gift will be deeply appreciated.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:30 AM on February 20, 2007


I have to disagree! I've gotten cookies and cupcakes multiple times at comic shows and have eaten them every time. Some people appreciate it.
posted by clango at 6:45 AM on February 20, 2007


Wh... what could be in a cookie that's so bad? Is anyone really scared that that random confection might be spiked or poisoned? Me, I'd go for it, if one of my infinite legions of fans gave me a cookie.
posted by Drexen at 7:40 AM on February 20, 2007


I think it depends on how controversial/popular the author is. I wouldn't expect J.K. Rowling to eat anything that someone she trusts hasn't personally vetted. I wouldn't expect Salman Rushde to either. On the other hand the guy who does Order of the Stick may very well feel quite safe in eating homemade cookies. from just about anyone.
posted by kalessin at 7:55 AM on February 20, 2007


yes
posted by wfc123 at 8:52 AM on February 20, 2007


On the other hand, I see you're in NYC...going to a meetup with cookies for your favorite community blog authors would probably result in all of them getting eaten by virtual strangers...especially after looking at that food porn on your site. Yum.
posted by bingo at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2007


I think maybe I'll take the suggestion of several people here to give out candy instead - following the "safe for Halloween" rule, I guess :) I'll wander around with a candy jar full of shrink-wrapped candy.

The indoctrination to not take food from strangers might be stronger in the US than in other cultures - being poisoned by strangers isn't really a concern in Singapore, where I'm originally from. Free food = awesomeness. And it sounds like most of the UK folk are also perplexed at the food paranoia...

solid-one-love: I- I'm not sure what to say about the plush meat. But if they had plush bacon, I would totally buy it. Alas, that may not help my weirdness factor.

bingo: Thanks for the compliment! I just might take you up on the offer of willing eaters ;)
posted by Samantha at 9:51 AM on February 20, 2007


Something commercially wrapped seems like a safe bet.

We had an aggressive real estate agent leaving apple butter (with her card attached, of course) on everyone's doorstep a couple of years ago. I actually had a chance to speak to her about it.

She didn't understand why I wouldn't serve it to my children. I tried to explain that I didn't know her and the jar was just left on my doorstep. I suggested that the world we grew up in way back when a few decades ago just wasn't the same world today.

She never "got it."
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2007


I think it's pretty sad that people are so suspicious of each other. Besides, isn't somebody more likely to just walk up with a gun if they want to kill their favorite comic book artist?

Personally I'd gratefully take the cookies and devour them, but then again, I'm not a famous anything.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:12 AM on February 20, 2007


Something commercially wrapped seems like a safe bet.

Except the entire point is giving them something she personally has made; she's a good cook and proud of it, and people like eating her food. She's not asking "How can I give authors some kind of food with the best chance of their eating it?"

That said, if I were an author, I would not eat food random fans offered me at a signing (unless, perhaps, I'd been whisked from the airport straight to the bookstore, hadn't had a chance to eat all day, and was starving). Call me a typical American.
posted by languagehat at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2007


The indoctrination to not take food from strangers might be stronger in the US than in other cultures - being poisoned by strangers isn't really a concern in Singapore, where I'm originally from.
I'm sure you're right about that. It stems, I think, from a specific scare about Holloween candy sometime in the early to mid-80s. I think the scare was actually an urban legend, but it's alerted everyone to the possibility of being poisoned by free food.

Ironically, you're probably just as likely to be poisoned by tainted packaged candy as by homicidal bakers, which is to say not very likely. And I'm sure that you're a lot more likely to get run over by a car crossing the street to buy a cookie at Starbucks. But these things aren't totally rational.
posted by craichead at 11:58 AM on February 20, 2007


contact the staff of the convention. Volunteer to assist in supplying refreshments to the authors.

If you can be an official convention cookie provider and not some random fan people will eat them.
posted by Megafly at 12:35 PM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Total agreement with Jess the Mess -- how sad, all this suspicion. I'd find the gesture flattering, and at least accept the gift graciously -- don't y'all know nothing spells lovin' like something from the oven?

It stems, I think, from a specific scare about Holloween candy sometime in the early to mid-80s.

I think it can be traced to the Tylenol Scare of of 1982.
posted by Rash at 2:20 PM on February 20, 2007


I'm willing to bet that if you had a table with a plate of cookies, and a sign that read "Free Cookies for authors" people would be able to asess their hunger to skepticism ratio on an individual basis, and all cookies would be eaten and appreciated. Especially if it was at the table of another author, putting you in the "so and so's friend brought us all cookies" category.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:10 PM on February 20, 2007


i have the kind of job where nice strangers/fans bring me homemade food fairly frequently, and i *NEVER* eat it. this is because i don't trust people- not so much with the poison, but sometimes with the poopy hands, and often with the "maybe there's drugs in them brownies". then again, i also don't take drinks from strange boys in bars, unless i saw the bartender open/pour it and kept it in my sight at all times.

but!

i would very much appreciate sealed hallowe'en candy- like single-serve chocolate bars. also, billyfleetwood's idea above, to let them come to you and take the snacks of their own accord, is a good one. i've had comicon cupcakes from someone else's table- they were made by an acquaintance of an acquaintance, so of course they were sanitary and drug free, duh. (um, i just realized i am an idiot. and also probably stoned and infected with e.coli from those dirty dirty cupcakes.)
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:50 PM on February 20, 2007


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