Maamoul are round shortbread cookies that can be filled with dates, walnuts, or pistachios, but sometimes they're also stuffed with fear and blind panic because OMG FOREIGN DESSERTS. A Pennsylvania gas station was temporarily closed, a nearby daycare was evacuated, and a bomb squad was called in from 50 miles away, all because a box of 12 maamoul–which had Arabic script on the side–was discovered near a gas pump at the Marshalls Creek Gulf station.
According to the Pocono Record, a customer saw the box of cookies on Monday morning and immediately called the police to report it, because that's normal human behavior. Three state police cars quickly arrived at the scene and a bomb squad was called in from Scranton. The gas station was closed for more than two hours during the hardcore cookie investigation and the employees were warned that the cookies could've been lightly dusted with… DESTRUCTION.
— Carmella Mataloni (@Carmella_News) September 19, 2016
"State troopers came in and told us about it because we didn't even know about it," gas station manager Anne Wolfe told WNEP. "We were so busy and they shut us down from there and came in with the bomb squad."
The cause of the unidentified customer's concern was presumably that there was Arabic text on the box, even though it just confirmed there were a dozen cookies inside and that they were, in fact, filled with dates. The Pennsylvania State Police is still investigating, and has not yet confirmed whether charges will be filed. (And who would be charged? The person who panicked over seemingly un-American sweets? Or the one who was careless enough to forget his or her cookies at the gas station?)
Regardless, that kind of response to the Arabic language is what prompted Israeli graphic design company Rock Paper Scissors to create a provocative tote bag that says–in Arabic–"The only goal of this text is to spread panic among those who fear the Arabic language." The bags have been sold out for months but, if you do manage to find one, you probably shouldn't carry it to rural Pennsylvania gas stations.
Especially if you're carrying a deadly-looking box of delicious maamoul.