>Growing up in the Chicago area, I was shielded from a childhood terror inflicted upon the less innocent children of the New York metropolitan area. Yes, I am talking about the nightmare-inducing product known as Cookie Puss.

Those of you who still have souls may wonder where this ghoulish Cookie Puss comes from. It is the ice cream cake that parents serve at children’s birthday parties when they want to ensure that their child never will never want to have another birthday party again. Introduced by Carvel, an ice cream chain in New York that dulls in comparison to the deliciousness of Dairy Queen, Cookie Puss is an ice cream cake shaped like some sort of alien. He has two cookies for eyes and an ice cream cone with a scoop of ice cream in it on the center of the cake as his nose. Around St. Patrick’s Day, Cookie Puss returns to outer space and his cousin from Ireland, O’Cookie Puss, is available at Carvel instead. (Seriously, you can’t make stuff like this up.)

My peaceful existence was shattered sometime while I was in college and went with Husband to a Carvel in Long Island. There, in the freezer case, was the most terrifying ice cream cake I ever saw. The cookie eyes were lined with red icing and the ice cream in the cone nose was purple and melting, leaving purple tack marks as it slid down the hideous creature’s face. It seems that Cookie Puss is an alien crack addict. If my parents had given me a cake like this, I would have never slept again.

Fast forward to today. I arrived in Chicago for the weekend, and asked my dad if he wanted to take a walk. We strolled over to the neighborhood strip mall, where to my great surprise and consternation, there is now a Carvel. I warned my dad that the scariest object known to man might lie inside, and we entered the shop cautiously. Peering into the freezer case, we saw it immediately. While Cookie Puss is not a crack head in the tony northern suburbs of Chicago, he does appear to be an addict of something, with eyes open wide and staring blankly, his iced mouth caught in some sort of silent scream. I called Husband and Brother-in-Law (who risked life and limb by bringing a Cookie Puss for dessert at Rosh Hashanah a few weeks ago) to tell them that it was not safe here any more. Husband immediately identified the problem. Cookie Puss in this community is addicted to OxyContin! (He has a bad “back.”) Shudder!

Damn this country. We used to have regional differences. Chicago was Dairy Queen turf! Now I can no longer sleep peacefully in my parents’ house knowing that Cookie Puss taunts me less than a half-mile away. So scary!