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About two years ago, I decided to moderate my dairy intake. The decision came to me after noticing too many barely-there papules on my forehead that conveniently would only arise after days full of pizza, ice cream, and white chocolate mochas made with whole milk. The nights of chronic stomach pains and quick-footed trips to the toilet may or may not have been a factor as well. 

Milk was easy; oat milk and I became acquainted in the Summer of 2019 while I worked at Whole Foods. I picked up a carton of Oatly’s Oat Milk after a shift and one bowl of frosted mini wheaties later, I was sold. The rest was history. 

Cheese was another story- a story that is still being written. When I’m feeling particularly committed to the dairy-free lifestyle, I reach for the Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Vegan cheese slices. Usually, I decide commitment is overrated. Besides cheese, another reason why I was hesitant to cut dairy from my diet was due to my unwavering love of Pepperidge Farm’s Milano cookies. Everybody has their vices, and I have two: coffee and cookies. The two decadent treats have remained a childhood staple and an adulthood essential anytime I’m longing for the nostalgia of it all, and I can shamelessly admit I indulged daily. 

After a long, exhausting day that consisted of the adventures of high school, dance practice, and a community center job, I would enter into the warm comfort that was my home. Upon finishing my dinner, I’d enjoy 3 Milano cookies and a cup of coffee while I completed my homework. My routine was effective. Calculus and the redundancy of U.S Histories at any level were no match for me after a cup of Maxwell House coffee and even just a bite of a double dark- chocolate Milano cookie. This being the reason my brain now views chocolate and coffee as the perfect study partners. 

Now that we’ve established my fondness for the Milano cookie, I hope you all can understand why this one snack played a big role in hindering me from embarking on a dairy-free lifestyle.The thought of abandoning this cookie was absurd and unimaginable. It wasn’t an addiction, but a bond. I never imagined the day we’d separate. 

Until Uncle Eddie came along.

It was a muggy summer day in the South End. The clock settled into the midpoint of my shift at Whole Foods and as usual, I was looking for a chocolate fix. Of course, Whole Foods doesn’t sell Milanos, so I began to scavenger the bakery/sweets aisles, desperate for something that didn’t taste as organically non-GMO and gluten-free as it probably was.

Then, I saw him.

Sitting on the topmost shelf just slightly out of my 5’2 reach. He was close enough to the edge so that I was just able to see the label if I stood from afar, but far enough that I was doubting the possibilities of a formal introduction- you know, a shelf to hand, hand to mouth type of thing. 

But I was determined. I stood on my tiptoes and extended my petite frame until it was unable to stretch anymore. The brown paper bag graced my fingertips and that was motivation enough. Fully aware that I would look like a mischievous child with my actions that would follow, and fully not caring, I went for it. I pushed off the ground and defied gravity long enough for Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies to tumble off the shelf and awkwardly into my arms.

 I could feel my dimples revealing themselves as I smiled with satisfaction at this victory.

The rest was history.

Made of wheat flour, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and a plethora of other organic ingredients, these cookies taste far from store-bought and quickly became a favorite of mine. What started out as an affair on my beloved Milano cookie blossomed into a beautiful commitment. I’m a firm believer that the best dairy-free products don’t make their presence known until you casually read the label. The taste doesn’t scream “i’m made of cashew milk” because the quality of taste is not affected by its lack of animal products; as a consumer, the enjoyment has to be authentic, organic, and mindless. You eat one, and next thing you know you’ve eaten three, then five, and so on. 

That’s how it was with Uncle Eddie and me. 

If I had to rate Uncle Eddie’s vegan chocolate chip walnut cookies, they would receive a 9 out of 10. As a whole, these cookies are soft in texture, but not artificially chewy. The chocolate chips are moist, decadent, and evenly spread to avoid the frustration that follows biting into a cookie and realizing it only possesses one sorry chocolate chip. The walnuts are the perfect addition and do a superb job at balancing the taste- the mild but sharp flavor of the walnut allows the cookie to not be surmounted with sugar. While all things mentioned about the taste have been nothing short of praises, I did not score this cookie a 10 out of 10 due to the caloric content.

Uncle Eddie’s Chocolate Chip Walnut vegan cookies come in at about 130 calories per serving, with each serving being 2 cookies. This brand is not ideal for the girl watching her figure, but dessert was never meant for dieters. While the caloric content was a turn-off, it wasn’t a deal-breaker. I’ve come to terms with the fact all men have their flaws, and Uncle Eddie is no different. Flaws are meant to be embraced, and the harsh reality is: you can’t have a zero carb, zero-calorie cookie. Moreover, one cookie will not be the downfall of your summer body. 

When the waves of regret wash over me as I swallow my third and reach for the fourth, the reminder that the cookie is vegan and will not negatively impact my clear-skin or send me on dreaded comings and goings to the bathroom provides all the justification I need; it’s practically a vegetable. 

So yes, in the adventures of omitting dairy, I was able to part from Milano cookies and come that much closer to completely freeing myself from the shackles of labels that read “contains eggs, milk,” and “not a significant source of dairy.”

Today, Uncle Eddie and I are doing quite well, actually. I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like for the sake of my figure. Relationship weight is a real thing, and I refuse to fall victim. Nonetheless, he’s never too far; I make sure to visit ( my pantry) during the weekends. One thing for sure, I never visit Pepperidge Farm anymore. 

Cheyenne Paterson is a senior English major, Strategic Communications minor studying at Hampton University from Boston, MA. She aspires to combine storytelling and an editorial style of writing to increase audience engagement and advocate for brands and corporations. Cheyenne is the Editor-In-Chief for Hampton University's Chapter of Her Campus, a regular contributor to Impressions of Beauty, and the President of the Peer Counselor's organization on campus. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys dabbling in interior design, perfecting her homemade coffee, and baking new recipes!
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