A Riddle of Science and Cookies

Experiments GeekMom Household Gadgets

Q: What do you get when you combine one crazy scientist lady, a group of hungry museum professionals, and a few strips of stainless steel?

A: Science Lab Cookie Cutters

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Ok, so it’s a terrible riddle, but a freaking awesome set of cookie cutters. The idea was born in the mind of Sherry Marshall.  She found herself faced with entertaining (translated here as feeding) a group of museum “big wigs” with an interest in science education. Being the ever-attentive hostess that she was and the not-so-affluent cook, cookies seemed the best option. She tired quickly of staring at recipes that were little more than your basic chocolate chip cookie with a cutesy science name. A rose by any other name and what not…

Next, Marshall set out to find a nice set of scientific cookie cutters and was sadly disappointed. So, of course, the only solution was to create them. It would have been too easy just to find new food.  Her mind was made up.

Initially she produced them herself with a few strips of sheet metal and JB weld. Function definitely won over form and they weren’t pretty at all. And she was slightly concerned about poisoning her guests using this method. A web search or eighteen later, she discovered a manufacturer who could produce them for her but only in batches of two thousand. She closed her eyes, clicked submit, and ordered them. Then she told her husband of her latest venture. She says that in hindsight she might have told her husband first. I can only imagine what that conversation must have been like.

Marital tests aside, Marshall landed her first shipment of Science Lab Cookie Cutters. Shaped as an atom, a beaker, a test

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tube, and a flask, quite a bit of thought and design went into choosing the shapes. In true geek form, she initially tried to keep them to scale but the shapes ended up looking goofy. And scaling an atom is a lot of math. She settled on a number of hand-drawn designs that were more recognizable. She also wanted these things to be sturdy. Copper didn’t look right and she didn’t want the flimsy dollar-bin kind. The logical choice was stainless steel. So not only are the cutters the coolest kitchen gadget ever, they can withstand accidentally being run over by a dually truck. That might be exaggerating a bit, but still.  Anything stainless steel makes me inexplicably satisfied.

They took off in ways Marshall never could  have imagined. The first shipment was delivered in June of 2010. She has since needed to order another four thousand more and is currently contemplating yet another order. This means there are plenty for all of us! They are even available on ThinkGeek.com (Or in Marshall’s words Think freaking Geek! She’s a touch excited by this fact.) as well as in the Science Shop at Science Museum Oklahoma if you are local to my area.

I had to ask why cookies? A billion and one ways to make science approachable and real and she picked cookies. She replied that she totally embraces her geek and seeks to express her love of science in all ways possible. She is a firm believer in the immersion experience and just having plain cookies at her science events would not suffice at all. Marshall is definitely one to go all out on a concept.  I’ve been to her meetings. Its ridiculous. Highly effective, but insanely ridiculous.

These are definitely something that any geek needs to have in her kitchen. Whether you cook or not they look cool just sitting in a drawer. They do come with a great sugar cookie recipe. Personally I use the pre-mixed stuff out of a bag and they taste just as yummy as my hours of effort and a flour-covered kitchen could have produced. Royal Icing to decorate though admittedly mine never make it that far. I’m impatient at best. They (cookies and cutters) also make great and unique gifts for the holidays. I’m hedging my bets that Santa leaves cool stuff in direct proportion to the coolness of cookies left for him.

Thank you, Sherry Marshall, for being just eccentric enough to order two thousand sets for one meeting. More than that, thanks for sharing with the rest of us geeks!

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