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Friday, December 8, 2023

Dr. Westerbeck's Pumpkin Cookies and Hygge

October 27, 2022
Austin Price
By Austin Price
Many recipes are dependent upon the colder season shifts in the weather to rise in popularity. One example of this is a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe, which honors director Professor Cynthia Westerbeck found in Taste of Home Magazine and has since generously and consistently made for students. [1]

One word that describes these cookies is cozy. Cozy is a word that many people use when describing how warm they are feeling or in many cases if they feel comforted. [2] Having the feeling of comfort is something university students lack far too often, as the stressors of school can easily create an environment that is hyper-focused on productivity. Given this knowledge, when an opportunity does arise where cozy moments are patiently waiting for us to experience them, we must take the chance to enjoy the comfort of that moment.

Dr.Westerbeck said, “During stressful times or during conferences or whatever, I will often show up with a basket of cookies just to show that life is more than the paper that we’re writing.” [3]

The Danish have a word called, “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-guh”), which has become more popular in recent times due to authors exploring happiness and what that specifically means in different countries. Writer Anna Altman for The New Yorker wrote on this word, stating how it “derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’ or ‘to console,’ which is related to the English word ‘hug.’ Associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude.” [4] Altman continued writing, “It’s wholesome and nourishing, like porridge; Danish doctors recommend ‘tea and hygge’ as a cure for the common cold.” [5] Another important aspect of hygge is the number of people who experience it at once.

Having comfort by yourself is completely different than having comfort with family or friends. Hygge is meant to be experienced with more than one person in its truest definition. Altman confirmed this in writing that, “the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.” [6]

In response to the question, “What do you enjoy most about making these cookies?” Dr. Westerbeck said, "I enjoy doing it as a way to connect with students and give them a little break from their stresses.” [7]

Connection in times of stress is an element of humanity that creates comfort. Similarly in the fall, recipes have wonderful ways of pulling people together. Now, with both elements of comfort and fall goodies, coziness becomes present.


1. Burroughs, T. (2022, September 13). Pumpkin chip cookies. Taste of Home.  

2. Cambridge Dictionary. (2005, January 1). Cozy. In Cambridge Dictionary.         

3. Interview with Cynthia Westerbeck, 10/20/22.

4. Altman, A. (2016, December 18). The year of hygge, the Danish obsession with      getting cozy. The New Yorker.            desk/the-year-of-hygge-the-danish-obsession-with-getting-cozy

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Interview with Cynthia Westerbeck, 10/20/22.
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