Being addicted to crack also isn’t particularly funny. The numbers regarding addiction in the US, and worldwide, are harrowing. One in seven Americans become addicted to drugs or alcohol during their lifetime, and only 10 percent of those people ever receive help (and of those, even fewer fully recover). But the ugliness of addiction isn’t found in statistics, which are sometimes helpful for arguments’ sake but do very little to describe the real effects of its trauma. Crack is a joke until a friend shares their story of growing up with a crack-addicted mother, or a family member is sent to prison for possession. These things don’t only happen to people in underprivileged communities, but they do occur there with more frequency and greater consequence.Here’s yet another reason why comparing kettle corn or what have you to crack is not constructive: While it’s definitely not not addictive, crack is actually not as addictive as its image would have you believe, as evidenced by the work of Dr. Carl Hart in the 1990s, who recruited and paid men to smoke crack at Columbia University to study its effects. He found that in high doses, crack is extremely habit-forming, but in lower doses, subjects in the study would often forgo a hit for, say, a $5 voucher. Quoted in a 2013 article in the New York Times, Hart said, “Eighty to 90 percent of people who use crack and methamphetamine don’t get addicted … And the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.” He even characterized the participants who received lower doses of crack as still capable of making “rational economic decisions.”
Crack served as a form of escapism “in a poor neighborhood deprived of options,” in Hart’s words. Its appeal is greater to those with little to lose.
“So you want to know how I became a ‘Doughp’ dealer,” Witherow jokingly asked when we spoke last week. When asked about the shop’s theme, she responded with: “I was the white girl at my high school who was going through the Hyphy movement. I was obsessed with Mac Dre.”
As an African American, journalist, hip hop junkie and connoisseur of sweets, I’m torn. Cookie dough is amazing. Witherow seems charming and well intentioned. And I loved Mac Dre, too. But I can’t help but tilt my head at this.
Setting aside Phillips’ own use of the word “junkie,” it seems pretty clear that cookie dough, while very delicious, has little in common with heroin, as anyone who has ever been affected by heroin addiction firsthand can easily attest. But, plot twist: Witherow is a recovering alcoholic who channeled her new life of sobriety into a love of baking. (Ah, life is full of surprises, caveats, and gray areas.) However, the very concept of Doughp still plays into the issue of lifting and recontextualizing slang from within marginalized communities and cheekily using it to market high-end foods that, in Phillips’ words, “weren’t a normal black community dining experience.”
Cookie dough counter-service shops weren’t a normal black community dining experience for most growing up. So, to faintly dress it as such seems a little … disingenuous, maybe?
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