Stephanie Tracy used to come down those steps at Josie Woods, every Bears Sunday, with snacks. No, she didn’t go buy some fucking mint Milano’s at the bodega. She brought homemade cookies and cakes and brownies. Why? Because she’s one of the best dessert chefs in the world, according to Because I Said So Magazine. She’s also one of my favorite human beings on the planet.
She received her culinary degree at the Institute of Culinary Education and previously worked professionally as a pastry cook at Gramercy Tavern in New York City. The Cookie Revolution is a cookie-of-the-month club that offers unique cookie varieties every month. Information on the latest cookie offering can be found at www.cookierevolution.com or on Instagram @cookie.revolution. Anyone interested in being added to the monthly email list should send a note to email@example.com.
DBB: You have a company – The Cookie Revolution – and you produce something called “The Crack Cookie”. It is the greatest cookie I’ve ever had. So who is “The Crack Cookie” when it comes to the Chicago Bears? Who is that player or coach or organization-adjacent individual you just can’t get enough of?
Steph: When I was a kid, that would have been definitely been “Refrigerator” Perry. I know Walter Payton seems like the obvious answer (his nickname is “Sweetness” after all), but, as a 6-7 year old kid during the 1985 season, I was all about The Fridge. I played my 45 of The Super Bowl Shuffle all the time. We even watched he Super Bowl Shuffle video in school. Perry was big and powerful, but also friendly and fun, and I was drawn to that. At the time, I probably had no real understanding of what was happening in the game and The Fridge’s regular role, but I was aware of the awesomeness of his famous touchdown. The team was exciting, and The Fridge encapsulated all of that for me.
As an adult, it is all about Devin Hester. He was so exciting but also unpredictable. You had no idea what he was going to do when he got his hands on the ball, and that’s why you never wanted to miss a Hester return. His movements were so unplanned and erratic that, as a spectator, you would feel such intense anxiety watching him zigging and zagging across the field. Then he would clear the last real defensive threat and that anxiety would turn into exhilaration. He was so amazing and the game was so thrilling when he played!
DBB: We’ve been watching the Bears together in bars for 15 years plus. I’ve thought a lot about what it might be like if we can’t gather in bars and watch this team in the fall. Have you thought about it? What do you think the experience will be like? What would you miss?
Steph: I have definitely thought about it.
I have always believed that we are drawn to team sports because of the camaraderie and the desire to belong to something. It becomes a way for us to relate to one another, to have a connection to other people. We go to the same bar year after year and experience the highs and lows of the Bears together. We cheer together, we joke together, we gasp at horrific injuries together. Those things are harder to replicate in an all-remote world. There are shared viewing apps out there, so hopefully something can be developed if we aren’t in a position to actually watch games together in a bar. Watching with other people makes it more fun and exciting, but it is also useful! Missed a play while using the bathroom? Who the hell is that third stringer coming in because of another injury? That’s what bar buddies are for. I would miss all of that, plus the convenience of staff serving me all the beer and chicken tenders so I don’t ever have to look away from TV.
DBB: You’re now a power lifter. Which is wild. So here’s my question. You have things you root for (Cubs, Bears), you have things you create (cookies, food) and you have things you physically achieve (lifting). Compare the gratification you get from each. Does the third-person celebration of sports fandom compare at all to the personal achievements?
Steph: There is something special about being connected to something bigger than yourself. With sports fandom there is a history that goes beyond us. We become part of a collective that existed before us and will continue to exist long after we expire. When the Cubs made it to the World Series in 2016, I went to my grandfather’s grave to tell him the news, place a celebratory pennant next to his headstone, and pour out a beer. Witnessing your team win and celebrating them is so gratifying because you’ve invested yourself in that team. When it is something as momentous as the Cubs World Series win, you also serve as witness for all those who are no longer here to see it for themselves.
Making food and sharing food is a very personal experience. When someone tells you that a cookie you’ve made is the best thing they have ever had, it is an awesome feeling. I put a lot of thought and effort in creating new cookie flavors and strive for perfection. It is very gratifying when your work is appreciated by someone else, but there is added personal pride when it comes to food. Food is essential for life, but is also ubiquitous. We are physically sustained by food, but can also find personal comfort in it. To bring joy to others through something as basic and fundamental as food is a really great feeling.
Powerlifting requires a lot of time and dedication, and it can take a long time to achieve goals once you are past the beginner stage, so gratification can come from a few different avenues. We’re talking screaming with your arms in the air celebration on one of the spectrum to a quiet but proud smile on the other end. Obviously there is a lot of gratification when you have a really successful performance in competition. In competition, you are competing against the other people in your category, but you are also focused on personal achievements. Every competitor is challenging themselves and trying to find the very limits of their capabilities. “Successful” could mean medalling in your category, but it could also mean achieving a personal record in your toughest lift or being able to compete at all after recovering from a recent injury. Sometimes you get gratification from a really great training session because everything clicked and all the movements felt great that day. There is no money in the sport, so you are doing it for yourself. It is a completely personal endeavor. You put in the work day in and day out, so you have a really strong sense of accomplishment when you achieve any of your goals.