The Atlantic

The Rise of Anxiety Baking

This year has been rough. Make some cookies.
Source: Jennifer A Smith / Getty

Last winter, a recipe for salted chocolate-chunk shortbread cookies spread through my social circle like a carbohydrate epidemic. One of my friends kept seeing the cookies pop up on Instagram and, relenting to digital peer pressure, eventually made them. She brought half the batch to a dinner party, and then it was off to the races. For months, it felt as if every time I showed up to a party, someone else was pulling a Tupperware container out of a tote bag, full of what was eventually known among us as just The Cookies.

The particular look of The Cookies—chunky and squat, with a right-angled edge rolled cookbook, an easy shorthand. As each subsequent friend made and presented their cookies, they’d note how the process went. It was as if everyone I knew had taken up baking. Via the social-media response to her book, Roman noticed the same thing. “It seemed to be a lot of first-time bakers making the cookies, like it was a fun, social art project,” she says. Beyond The Cookies, people I follow on Instagram and Twitter had also started turning out pies, cakes, tarts, and breads.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic13 min readPolitics
The 2020 Congressional-Retirement Tracker
For the second consecutive election, more Republicans than Democrats are forgoing reelection, a potentially ominous sign for the GOP in 2020.
The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
The Date Hong Kong Protesters Can’t Escape
The year 2047 is a deadline that has come to symbolize the end of the territory’s way of life.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Ukraine Transcripts Are a Road Map for Impeachment
The experience of following the impeachment inquiry over the past week has been a bit like that old Buster Keaton skit of a man being taken down by an ever-expanding newspaper. The 1921 clip from the silent movie The High Sign shows Keaton settling d