Going snickerdoodle-to-snickerdoodle against a known cooktastic competitor, say, a parent at your kid's school or someone in the neighborhood, is plenty intense. You know that your rival's spice may out-spice your best efforts, and out-sugar, and out-wow.
But going up against many, many bakers in a cookie contest that doesn't bear the name of a school or community center but, rather, an entire city? And a large one at that? Oh, dear cookie maker, you'll need to be brave and bold for this one, and look forward to some non-competitive fun as well.
It's the annual Long Beach Cookie Contest, and, nope, you don't blindly submit your family recipe to some web site, never to hear again. You'll be showing up, with two dozen sweets in tow, for in-person judging from the likes of the esteemed food editor of the LA Times, Mr. Russ Parsons, and a bevy of personalities.
Oh, Santa Claus is judging as well. The pressure.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The date is Sunday, Dec. 14, the place is Bay Shore Church, it is free to enter, and there's a free Christmas concert from 5 to 6:30 presented by the Southern California Brass Consortium.
Want to have a taste of the many (many many) cookies expected to show? Well, if you bake, enter, and show with your prized butternut stuffins/chocolate goodies/sugar cookies, then you get to taste for free. If you want to show up and snack, then you'll pay five bucks.
Not bad to see what the home bakers of Long Beach are up to. And fear not, if you happen to be one such baker: The recipes are kept secret, so you don't need to fill out a card and put it in front of your pan, letting everyone in on what your grandmother whispered in your ear about adding a little too much vanilla extract; that's your secret to keep.
You will have to note whether your cookies have nuts or not. Even Santa Claus needs to know that.
Good luck sugar buffs of the LBC, and happy baking.