It's the latest cookie kerfuffle of Campaign 2008.
Cindy McCain and Bill Clinton whipped up a bit of controversy over cookie recipes they submitted to Family Circle for its fifth Presidential Cookie Bake-Off, published this week in the July issue. For the last four presidential elections, the magazine has asked the spouses of the leading candidates to share their favorite cookie recipe -- then let readers choose the tastiest.
The results have been eerily accurate in predicting the outcome of the election: Each time, the spouse of the person who won the contest has gone on to become president. The winner is announced the day before the election.
This year, there's a twist. One astute reader noticed that Bill Clinton's oatmeal cookie recipe was almost identical to one on the Betty Crocker website. (Clinton was asked to submit a recipe before his wife dropped out of the race.)
And Cindy McCain's oatmeal-butterscotch cookies turned out to be near-duplicates of the ones on Hershey's website. The only recipe not being challenged is the one Michelle Obama submitted for shortbread treats.
This isn't McCain's first culinary embarrassment. In April, a similar flap occurred when a batch of "Cindy's Recipes" posted on her husband's campaign website matched ones from the Food Network. (The explanation for that goof: An intern botched things, cutting and pasting a recipe from the network's website.)
Family Circle insists that McCain and Clinton did nothing wrong. "This contest was us asking for them to submit a favorite cookie recipe, not necessarily an original," said Editor in Chief Linda Fears.
But could it hurt John McCain's chances in November? "We're leaving it to the bakers to decide," Fears said.
-- Kate Linthicum