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The Christmas Cookie Conundrum

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

As I baked Christmas cookies I pondered why it is that it takes longer to clean up the Huge Mess than it does to create it. It seems like this would violate some law of physics. (The Law of Conservation of…what?) By the time the cookies were baked and the kitchen cleaned I’d come up with a working hypothesis. When the Mess is being created, it’s aided by entropy.

The whole house is an entropy engine of such astonishing proportions that I’m surprised it doesn’t spill out and destroy the world. (My anti-entropy efforts are perhaps all that prevent this.) The kitchen has tremendous potential entropic energy, exceeded only by the closet in the guest room (which is another story).

I put a certain amount of energy into assembling ingredients into things like cookies, cakes, pies, fudge, etc. but flour flies, eggs drip, batter drops, a Trinity-blast-type cloud of cocoa carooms out of the mixer and hovers in the air, chocolate chips and M&Ms bounce erratically across the counter and somehow everything—including me—becomes sticky. Entropy is sticky. (Physicists may disagree, but they’ve never been in my kitchen at Christmas time.)

Care in assembling the confections makes no difference: somehow variations on these things always seem to happen. If everything tends to move from an ordered state to a disordered state there’s no reason to think my kitchen would be an exception. (I’d rather think it’s entropy than some sort of kitchen elf revolt.)

So, although it takes very little effort to bake for the holidays, it’s always going to take a bit more effort to clean up the Mess. It’s just the nature of the universe. Milk and cookies, anyone?

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