“That’s the way the cookie crumbles” is a saying often uttered to someone who might have suffered a recent misfortune or may be experiencing a run of bad luck.

Or is it?

Apparently scientists in good ol’ London, England were determined to get to the root cause of the cookie crumbling problem and set out to do some research on the matter.

According to some news reports that I saw yesterday, cookie lovers worldwide have been dismayed for years that when they opened their package of snacks, some of the little taste treats were not intact and in fact, were mere crumbs. For years, this phenomenon was attributed to the way in which the cookies were packed up and shipped. To me, that sounded like a reasonable explanation but then again, I’m no scientist.

In an effort to stem the avalanche of broken cookies and to satisfy the cookie eating public, a team of scientists were brought in. Here’s what they found.

It seems that when your average cookie is yanked fresh from the oven and begins the cooling process, moisture gathers around the edges of the delicious orb and causes said orb to start expanding.

Simultaneously, moisture that had gathered in the middle of the cookie caused the morsel to contract.

Undaunted, the scientists then fired laser beams into the unsuspecting cookie and discovered that it developed fault lines similar to those that lie underneath the earth’s surface. These little fault lines cause the cookie to weaken and it becomes more susceptible to crumblage. Since these fault lines would appear to be minor on the face of things, a technology called “digital speckle pattern interferometry" was used to peer at the cookies surface as it was cooling down to room temperature.

The scientists found this matter so important that they published the results of their findings in a paper entitled “A novel application of speckle interferometry for the measurement of strain distributions in semi-sweet biscuits”. In a word, shocking. If you don’t believe me, you can read for yourself in the Journal of Measurement, Science and Technology.

At this point, you may be asking yourself “What, if anything can be done to avert this tragic loss of cookies?”

Well, for starters manufacturers are going to extra lengths to try and detect “problem cookies”. Once detected, they are removed from the packaging process. Manufacturers would not elaborate on what becomes of these so-called “problem cookies” and their fate remains a mystery. One could only imagine what horrors and humiliation they are forced to endure on the road to cookiedom.

Next, manufacturers are advised to take a look at the humidity and temperature inside the factories where the cookies are baked. A little tinkering here and there with the levels of these factors might go long way towards producing the perfect cookie. We can only wait and see.

And that’s my friends, is the way the cookie crumbles.

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