Nannie MacGill, the iconic septuagenarian and public face of Nannie Mac’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, sat ramrod straight in the witness stand. Her face expression-less, save for the pencil thin line of her tea rose-pink lips, Nan endured the prosecutor’s questions with silent outrage.
“You expect the court to believe you had no knowledge of what was in your cookies?” Assistant DA Pearson, dressed in a slim fitting navy pinstriped suit, removed his glasses so he could make eye contact with the jurors. “You are the Nan in Nannie Mac.”
Leaning on the jury box railing, he chewed on an end of his glasses’ temple, trying to look nonchalant as he waited for what he hoped was a last-minute confession from the famous curmudgeon.
“You didn’t know that your famous secret ingredient was…”
“Objection!” Nan’s attorney slammed his notepad his lawyer’s table. “That is proprietary information, she cannot be compelled to give away trade secrets.”
“Your Honor?” Pearson spread his arms wide, glasses in one hand, his notes in the other, a supplicant gesture that had worked well for him in past cases.
“Either rephrase or move on Neal.” The judge was bored. He wanted to wrap up the day’s proceedings in time to catch the Pistons’ game.
Pearson had three contempt violations in the past six months, he couldn’t gamble on a fourth. He needed to get the old woman admitting culpability into the record.
Replacing his glasses, Pearson made a show of looking at his notes, then turned his gaze on Nan.
“Nan,” he began.
“Mrs. MacGill,” Nan chewed out the words, her expression changing from outrage to disgust.
“Mrs. MacGill,” Pearson’s bowed slightly at her demand. “Do you eat the cookies produced at your bakeries?”
Nan took a deep breath, readjusted her jacket, then laid her folded hands in her lap.
“Yes, of course, I do,” she said.
“Mrs. MacGill,” Pearson continued, “has the recipe for your oatmeal cookies changed over the years?”
For the first time, Nan smiled.
“No, the recipe has stayed the same for nearly 60 years.” She sounded remarkably like her infomercial.
“And, that recipe is your own invention?”
“It is,” Nan said.
“Are you still active in the running of your bakeries?” Pearson took a small step forward.
“Mrs. MacGill, would you be able to tell if the formulation had been altered?”
“You mean, if someone changed the recipe?”
“That is exactly what I mean.”
“So… squirrel meat has always been a part of your recipe?”
Before her attorney could object, Nan answered.
“Those aren’t really raisins, you know.”