It was a football Saturday at BB&T Field when the caper occurred. A red-and-white-clad young man, presumably from that university in Raleigh, meandered into Deacon Tailgate Town, most likely on a dare.
He made his way to the spot occupied by Marybeth Sutton Wallace (’86) and her guests, helped himself to a huge platter of her freshly baked cookies and headed for parts unknown. The interloper was spotted, and Marybeth quickly alerted. Then with a few words, spoken (no doubt gently) by a man whose wife had a serious case of cookie-sheet elbow, the heist was foiled.
For these were not just any cookies. They were “Deacon Crunch Cookies” – exalted in Tailgate Town and beyond as Marybeth’s mouth-watering morsels chock-full of oatmeal, cornflakes and chocolate chips. Leavening legend; tailgate treasure. Craved by black and gold faithful and favored by “Mr. Wake Forest” himself, Ed Wilson (’43).
By 2011 a tailgate tradition that started with a couple of plates of cookies had grown to platters of hundreds as word of their deliciousness spread. Friends old and new dropped by for a sample; alumni brought their students, and students brought their parents. Marybeth’s cookies (which she remembers baking in New Dorm and at Worrell House in London) had become a tradition — a taste of Wake Forest hospitality and solidarity that connected generations. Cookie, so dear.
After living in eastern North Carolina for several years, Marybeth, her husband, McLain (’85, JD ’88), and their daughters Elizabeth and Catherine Stuart, returned to Wake Forest and Winston-Salem in 2005. Marybeth is special assistant to President Nathan Hatch, and McLain is vice president and general counsel at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
With them came the original recipe for “Crunch Cookies” from Marybeth’s mother, Dorothy Sutton. “My mom was always more of a teacher and a poet than a cook,” says Marybeth. “All the things we made in the ’70s were recipes on the side of a box. Rice Krispie treats; Jell-o salad … but this is the kind of cookie you never grow tired of. It’s a combination of so many good flavors.”
On a whim Marybeth added chocolate chips to the recipe, and Elizabeth observed they made the cookies look black and gold. They were declared “Deacon Crunch Cookies” — as in Crunch Carolina, etc. Elizabeth carried on the family baking tradition when she won a blue ribbon at the 2011 Dixie Classic Fair for, naturally, “Deacon Crunch Cookies.”
A gracious hostess and phenomenal cook — (her famous sweet potato ham biscuits might be a recipe for another day) — Marybeth serves these cookies to the President’s Aides and Wake Forest Fellows each year. “It is interesting how food connects people,” she says. “The students are moved by the legacies of previous generations and the things that bring us all together. This recipe appeals to so many families who love Wake Forest.”
Deacon Crunch Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 and ½ cups quick rolled oats
2 cups cornflakes
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
Cream butter, sugars and vanilla.
Add eggs, baking powder, salt, soda, and flour. Mix well.
Add rest of ingredients and stir by hand.
Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.