Few questions go unanswered at UW–Madison. Between the faculty and students on campus and a vast alumni network, we have a wealth of knowledge upon which we draw to answer everything from field-specific inquiries to lingering curiosities about campus lore. Still, one question, shared by an entire generation of Badgers, evades us: the long-sought recipe for guerrilla cookies. For Badgers of the late ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, the mere mention of this staple snack evokes memories of a hearty, chewy cookie engineered to fuel the revolutionary student through a full day of class with enough energy for the afternoon rally. The first rendition of the guerrilla cookie was Mary MacDowell MA’67’s riff off of Tiger’s Milk protein bars. Her recipe was then adapted by Ted Odell ’64, whose tweaks to MacDowell’s creation generated the guerrilla cookie that was sold in markets around campus — namely the Mifflin Street Co-op — and about which students of its time have spent years reminiscing.
For those who arrived after the reign of the guerrilla cookie, you may be wondering to where these mystical treats vanished. Well, wouldn’t we all like to know. After seeing the cookies become the very symbol of that which they were created to defy (consumerism), Odell retreated into the Wisconsin wilderness and swore his recipe would die with him — and so it did, when he passed on January 2, 2021. Since the disappearance of the guerrilla cookie, many have tried to replicate it, and some have come close. Glen Chism, a former guerrilla-cookie baker at the co-op, held on to a similar (but not identical) recipe handed to him by MacDowell herself. Other alumni have documented their quests to uncover Odell’s secrets through blogs. WAA even took a run at the cookies in 2012 with a recipe based on an ingredients list from unearthed guerrilla cookie packaging. Otherwise, all we’re left of this fabled campus fare is a cookie-crumb trail that leads nowhere fast, save for, perhaps, Memory Lane.