A sweet and comforting scent fills the air inside of Gonzaga University’s SubConnection, or SubCo, where the line of students extends out the door.
They’re all waiting for one thing: a dozen cookies and two cartons of milk for $5.
“I could not last a solid week if I didn’t get the cookies,” said Winston “Chowder” Holyfield, a 19-year-old sophomore at Gonzaga and one of hundreds of GU students who regularly waits in line for the freshly baked, still-warm cookies.
“Once I started going consistently,” he said, “I knew I couldn’t stop.”
This is Cookie Night, a newer Gonzaga tradition that takes place once a week.
A minimum of 200 dozen cookies are made Wednesday nights at SubCo from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. That’s 2,400 cookies at the least. On an average week, SubCo bakers will make around 220 and 240 dozen cookies. The most, so far, was 260 dozen, or a whopping 3,120 cookies.
“We do it because it’s a treat for the students,” said 22-year-old Na Goertzen, a SubCo employee who works every Cookie Night. “The cookies are always fresh-baked.”
Cookie Night started about four years ago, Goertzen said. Since then, it has become a staple for Gonzaga students who look forward to the mid-week treat.
“We get there an hour early,” said Gonzaga freshman Bowen Spellman, 18.
Spellman has been attending Cookie Night with a group of friends, including Holyfield, since Cookie Night resumed for the 2017-18 academic year. He doesn’t plan on missing a single week, despite lines with a wait of sometimes an hour or more.
Cookie Night wasn’t always this way. When it first stated, students didn’t have to wait for so long in line to get cookies that remind them of home. It was a rather well-kept secret. But once word got out that students could get 12 cookies, plus milk, for $5, students flocked to SubCo on Wednesday nights.
“It’s such a good way to mark the halfway point of the week,” said 18-year-old Claire Barone, a freshman at Gonzaga, who noted the cookies are always warm and gooey.
Cookie Night begins long before the students start lining up. Two hours before the doors open, SubCo workers line industrial-size baking sheets with parchment paper. Around 7:15 p.m., they begin to lay out the circularly shaped balls of cookie dough on the prepped baking sheets. The first batch goes into the oven a half hour later.
The cookies bake for about 10 minutes. As soon as one batch is done, the next batch goes in.
Cookies are served from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. As long as students are inside the doors before 10:30 p.m. they will be served cookies. Sometimes, the last students don’t receive cookies until 11 p.m. Hundreds of students line up to get these cookies.
Midnight is the latest Goertzen said he’s ever had to stay to help clean up after Cookie Night, but that doesn’t happen frequently.
But students said they hope Cookie Night will continue to be a GU tradition.
Said sophomore Charissa Boniface, “It’s a good break and reward.”