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New Hood College recruiting tool has chocolate chips

FREDERICK — Prospective students visiting Hood College already receive a look into life at the college. Soon, they’ll get a taste of it, too.

The college has partnered with Uncle Ralph’s Not Yet Famous Cookies in Frederick to produce the “Hood” Cookie. The 3-ounce chocolate-chunk cookie will be given out to prospective students and their families when they visit the college.

“We’re always trying to be creative to make Hood a special visit,” Hood College President Ron Volpe said.

The recipe for the cookie comes from “Selected Recipes,” a cookbook that dates to the 1940s. It was written by Martha C. Carson, the college’s dietitian from 1914 to 1948, and is archived in the college’s library.

Carson Cottage, which houses the student newspaper, literary magazine and some music classes on campus, is named for the longtime dietitian.

Hood alumna Peggy Wight owns Uncle Ralph’s Cookies with her husband, Ralph. Wight graduated from Hood in 1995 with a degree in human resources management.

“I’ve always wanted to do something for Hood,” she said.

The cookies will only be available at Hood events and won’t be sold at Uncle Ralph’s Sweet Shoppe, 801 N. East St.

Uncle Ralph’s has been in Frederick since 1985, when the Wights rented ovens at the Knights of Columbus kitchen. They sold 1,500 cookies in the first year, delivering them to local buyers in the family car.

Today, Uncle Ralph’s sells 20 million cookies and brownies a year, distributing its products to customers in seven states.

“We want to show students that this is what you can do with a Hood education,” said Kathleen Bands, vice president for enrollment management at the college.

The difference between the Hood cookie and the regular chocolate chunk version produced at Uncle Ralph’s is that only margarine is used in the recipe.

Uncle Ralph’s cookies are made with a mixture of margarine and butter, Wight said.

Bonnie Hayes-Tavares, master baker, had to alter the amount of flour added to the cookie only slightly so they weren’t so puffy.

“The most valuable ingredient is that it’s made from a Hood alum,” Volpe said.

Volpe was on hand at Uncle Ralph’s bakery last week to taste and help package the first batch of cookies for prospective students.

After the ingredients are mixed and the cookies are formed, they are put through a “flash freezer,” which freezes the cookies using liquid nitrogen in an insulated box in about 10 minutes. The cookies travel through the freezer on a conveyor belt, and then are automatically bagged by weight and placed in boxes by someone waiting at the end of the line.

Hood bought 120 pounds of cookies for its first order.

Giving the thumbs-up through an oven mitt, Volpe was the first to taste the slightly altered recipe.

“This is taking student recruiting to a new level,” he said. “We’re appealing to their stomachs.”