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all told

All told is a type of cookie.

In 1993, the consumer research department of the Tollhouse Cookie Manufacturers’ Association of North America (TCMAoNA) found that some people were going into supermarkets and rummaging through the shelves of tollhouse cookies (which lost their trademark protection in 1983) to find packages that were well past their best before dates. If they couldn’t find any, they walked out without buying any tollhouse cookies or any other cookies, for that matter.

Through extensive focus group research, the TCMAoNA found that this segment of the market, which TCMAoNA marketers refer to as the downwardly mobile nut job segment, preferred their tollhouse cookies staler, more dried out and crunchier than what TCMAoNA marketers refer to as the sane market segment.

Rather than risk consumers in the downwardly mobile nut job segment not spending their hard-earned money boosting the profits of TCMAoNA member manufacturers, TCMAoNA recommended that its members develop a new variation on the tollhouse cookie that is intentionally dry and stale. Rather than tarnish the original tollhouse cookie image, the TCMAoNA created a new name for this new type of cookie, namely, all told cookies.

To produce all told cookies, manufacturers start by making standard tollhouse cookies. They then store them for up to a year in warehouses where high-powered dehumidifiers working around the clock suck every drop of moisture out of the air.

To reduce costs, some producers have set up dedicated all told cookie plants and warehouses in deserts. That way, they can make use of cheaper dehumidifiers that don’t draw as much power. (Even the driest of deserts isn’t dry enough to produce cookies that will satisfy the tastes of all told connoisseurs.)

Why “all told” you might ask? Tolled is the past tense of toll, as in tollhouse. The new variation of cookie were, in the past, tollhouse cookies before they dried out beyond all recognition. Hence, the past tense of tolled seemed appropriate.

Like terminally cutesy store owners who think that adding  an extra “p” and an“e” to the end of “shop” will make their store name ooze quaintness, the brilliant TCMAoNA marketers felt that “tolled” was too pedestrian. They decided that “told” was a très cool abbreviation of “tolled.” What’s more, they were complete idiots and determined to let the world know it.

Some people think that the word “all” is in “all told” because all of the cookies in each bag are of the stale variety. That’s not the case. “All” indicates that the cookies are all, as in completely, dry. They couldn’t be any more dried out without turning to dust, as many of them do if you even only slightly shake the bag on the way home.

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