Weekly Link Roundup

+ National Cookie Day is December 4; to make up for the dearth of good cookie deals, I have decided to share three of my favorite cookie recipes here:

Jacques Torres’s Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted by NYT Cooking

Claire Saffitz’s Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies

Susan Spungen’s Thumbprints With Dulce de Leche, Nutella or Jam Recipe

+ Some cookie-related products that I bought this year:

+ Are Crumbl Cookies the Best or the Worst? It Doesn’t Matter. (The New York Times): “Crumbl’s offerings … [were] plump, doughy, intensely sweet and topped with a thick clod of frosting. Each cookie, baked on site, costs between $4 and $5 and can easily serve four people … And each week brings new roster of flavors, like caramel popcorn, cotton candy, Key lime pie and everything bagel … So are the cookies good or not? When you’ve got millions of people debating the question, the answer doesn’t really matter. Crumbl is the fastest-growing chain of dessert shops in the United States, and the fourth-fastest growing food chain of any sort in the countryIn the last six years, Crumbl has opened more than 750 stores from coast to coast. The company says that last year it sold, on average, nearly a million cookies a day … The company has manufactured its own hype and turbocharged it by announcing weekly cookie flavors on TikTok as if they were limited-edition sneaker drops, with vaguely sensual, slow-motion videos reminiscent of Burger King commercials. The company has amassed 6.7 million followers on the platform, more than Taco Bell and Starbucks combined.”

+ Nom Nom Nom. What’s the Deal With Cookie Monster’s Cookies? (The New York Times): “Cookie Monster … was created in the 1960s by Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, for a General Foods Canada commercial … It turns out the cookies are real — sort of. They are baked at the home of Lara MacLean, who has been a ‘puppet wrangler’ for the Jim Henson Company for almost three decades … The recipe, roughly: Pancake mix, puffed rice, Grape-Nuts and instant coffee, with water in the mixture. The chocolate chips are made using hot glue sticks — essentially colored gobs of glue. The cookies do not have oils, fats or sugars. Those would stain Cookie Monster. They’re edible, but barely … For a given episode, depending on the script, MacLean will bake, on average, two dozen cookies. There’s no oven large enough at Sesame’s New York workplace, so MacLean does almost everything at home.”

+ Shein Still Needs to Prove It’s a Bargain (The Wall Street Journal): “Shein, now based in Singapore after moving its headquarters from China in 2021, has filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. that could take place next year. The company is probably looking for a valuation higher than the $66 billion implied by a fundraising round in May. That would put Shein’s market value comfortably above H&M’s $27 billion but below Zara’s parent Inditex’s $127 billion … The company continues to grow rapidly: its global monthly active app users in the third quarter of 2023 grew 31% from the year before … Fast-fashion stocks are in vogue. Shares of Inditex hit a high last week after rising 49% this year. H&M shares have gained 55%. At $66 billion, Shein would be valued at 2.9 times last year’s revenue, similar to Inditex’s 3.5 times. But it would be much more expensive in price-to-earnings terms: 83 times versus Inditex’s 28 times. Margins have been much lower too: The firm’s net margin was only 3.5% last year compared with Inditex’s 13%.”

+ Fashion Retailer Shein Files Confidentially for US IPO (Bloomberg): “The online retailer is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley on the listingthe filing wasn’t public … Last year, Shein opened distribution centers in the US, Canada and Europe to accelerate shipping times in those regions. It has also begun to expand manufacturing in Brazil, Turkey and India.”

+ Matthew Williams to Exit Givenchy (The Business of Fashion): “The American designer rose to prominence designing for performers like Kanye West before founding his own label, 1017 Alyx 9SM, in 2015. Known for a haute streetwear aesthetic blending sleek tailoring with utility-inspired metallic accents, Williams recently secured a new investor for Alyx … the brand’s fashion message remained somewhat fuzzy: after teetering from the gothic couture-meets-streetwear aesthetic of Riccardo Tisci to Clare Waight Keller’s back-to-the-archives, classic vision, Givenchy likely needed a clearer, more captivating take on fashion as well as heftier investments from its parent company in order to keep up with stablemates like Celine and Loewe, mega-brands in the making which have enjoyed rapid growth in recent cycles … Succession plans have yet to be announced … Until a new creative director is announced Givenchy’s collections will be designed by its studio team.”

+ One of my favorite end-of-year deals is now live (I may have signed up family members for FP accounts to fully utilize this offer). Until 12/13/2023, get a $100 e-code toward a future purchase when you spend $150 at Free People. (Before checking out, make sure “$100 E-code will be emailed on 12/13/23. E-code redeemable 12/13/23 – 1/6/24” appears below the order subtotal in your shopping bag.) Some picks:

+ Time Traveling With J.Crew’s Olympia Gayot (The Cut): “… something Gayot has done especially well that has played a hand in invigorating a heritage brand, especially one with traditional roots like J.Crew, is the simple act of looking backward … ‘I’m playing with the brand’s heritage from the ’80s and ’90s. There was such a moment around that simplicity and that worn-in look: the feeling, the catalogues, the clothes, all of it.’ “

+ A 30-Year Trap: The Problem With America’s Weird Mortgages (The New York Times): “… the U.S. mortgage system is discouraging existing owners from putting their homes on the market — because if they move to another house, they’ll have to give up their low interest rates and get a much costlier mortgage … critics … argue that while the 30-year mortgage may have been good for home buyers individually, it has not been nearly so good for American homeownership overall. By making it easier to buy, the government-subsidized mortgage system has stimulated demand, but without nearly as much attention on ensuring more supply. The result is an affordability crisis that long predates the recent spike in interest rates, and a homeownership rate that is unremarkable by international standards.”

+ The Golden Bachelor’s Not-So-Golden Past (The Hollywood Reporter): “The premiere earned the highest multiplatform rating for The Bachelor franchise since 2021, with a combined 13.9 million viewers. It also set a streaming record as ABC’s most watched episode of an unscripted series ever on Hulu after 35 days of viewing … producers presented an incomplete and misleading image of Turner, which the bachelor helped perpetuate in personal remarks … in the past six years, ‘He dated a couple of women. They weren’t all long-term, but they … weren’t short-term either.’ “

+ Ammon Bundy Has Disappeared (The Atlantic): “… the Bundy property … desertedthere was nothing. The trucks were gone. The house was cleaned out. The workshop was stripped. Bundy hadn’t even said goodbyeAmmon Bundy still faces an ever-growing list of contempt-of-court charges, and there is still a warrant out for his arrest, with bail set at $250,000 … Law enforcement could still come looking for Bundy in Utah, or wherever he is, and bring him back to Idaho. And if that happens, he could face months or even years in jail.”

+ Who Gets to Play in Women’s Leagues? (The New Yorker): “Some people with XX chromosomes and excess androgens are born with such an enlarged clitoris that they are assigned male at birth. Other people with XY chromosomes and a gene that delays the ability to process androgens are assigned female at birth, only to grow a penis and have their testes drop during puberty. Still other XY people are never, or are only partly, able to process androgens—they can have both undescended testes and a vagina. Many of this last group do not notice that they are different from other women until they fail to menstruate. Young élite athletes, whose periods can be delayed from intense training, may not notice even then. All told, differences of sex development are rare but not vanishingly so. About one in every three hundred and fifty people has nonstandard sex chromosomes, and about one in every thousand has atypical genitalia. In élite sports, which select for many rare qualities, these rates can be much higher. At the 2011 World Athletics Championships, for example, women with XY chromosomes were overrepresented by a factor of a hundred and forty … As a dividing line in sports, testosterone makes a certain amount of sense. Unlike external genitalia, it plays some role in athletic abilityand it is unusually sex-dependent: the average man has fifteen times the total testosterone of the average woman. But testosterone is not a perfect measure of either athleticism or sex. One study found that some male Olympians have testosterone in the typical female range, just as some female Olympians have testosterone in the typical male range. The I.A.A.F. itself found that, in more than half of the running events it studied, women with lower testosterone are faster than those with higher testosterone. And, within a single person, testosterone level fluctuates—it is highest in the morning, and is affected by both exercise and the rush of competition.”

+ I listened to the audiobook (which was beautifully narrated by Michelle Williams) of Britney Spears’s The Woman in Me last month, joining millions of others who helped push the memoir to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list (and keep it there). The ghostwritten work, a true “page-turner” which relayed Britney’s story clearly and mostly linearly, managed to capture the singer’s voice and preserve her relatability. Even after having the most shocking details revealed in the book spoiled for me beforehand, I didn’t for a moment feel the pace of the book drop below an acceptable rate. If you remember voting for Britney during the Carson Daly era of TRL, do give this book a listen.

+ Spotify’s US Subscribers Can Now Stream Audiobooks for Free — Yes, Even the Britney Memoir (Billboard): “Spotify subscribers in the United States … [have access to] 15 hours of free audiobook streaming per month in Spotify Premium … The Spotify Premium audiobook catalog includes more than 200,000 titles, over 70% of them bestselling titles from all five major book publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and RB Media) as well as independent publishers such as Bolinda, Dreamscape and Pushkin …Spotify sees audiobooks as the next opportunity to revitalize an underserved ecosystem with a single dominant player — Amazon-owned Audible in this case.”

+ Bravo in the Flesh (The New Yorker): “A Bravoholic is a romantic in that she is obsessed with the fantastical world that Bravo offers, but this does not mean that she is loath to criticize the network. Still, she is turned on by the feeling of being captive and addicted … A romantic accepts the flood of advertisement theatre at BravoCon because the event promises her real fourth-wall breaking. Executives at NBCUniversal, Bravo’s parent company, and fans on the ground parrot one another: You come to the Con for a mental escape. BravoCon is the natural evolution of an inorganic corporate entity. The virtual consumption of human story while watching reality television becomes temporarily, and weirdly, physical … A Bravoholic is a critic and a judge. She prefers to live outside of the fantasy, as so much pleasure is to be had in her analysis of it.”

+ Don’t Be Fooled by a Robust Black Friday Weekend (The Business of Fashion): “Sales may be promising to retailers this holiday season, but how people have been able to afford to make purchases may tell another story … Over the summer, US credit card debt reached a historic high at more than $1 trillion, and balances have only continued to climb since then. The use of buy-now, pay-later services … increased 14 percent year-over-year in November … Klarna, a leading player in the space, reported a 29.5 percent uptick in usage among American shoppers on Black Friday.”

+ Make More Friends of Different Ages (The Atlantic): “Most Americans don’t seem to have much age diversity in their friendships … for a group of young adults ages 21 to 30, more than 80 percent of the people in their social circles, not counting relatives, were born within five years of them. Even looking at a broader age range, nearly 63 percent of adults don’t have any close friends who are at least 15 years older or younger than them … Spending our time with such a narrow group of people can fuel age segregation and isolate us—a concerning prospect at a moment when almost a fifth of American adults say they feel lonely for much of the day. These limitations also keep us from other generations’ perspectives and potentially surprising points of connection. Younger pals can be a reminder of past selves; older friends can offer a glimpse into the future.”

+ Is This the World’s Highest-Grossing Photograph? (The New York Times): “Over the last 30 years, roughly 600 signed and numbered copies have been sold, at prices that typically range between $15,000 and $30,000. The image is offered at galleries around the world … Buyers who want to cut out the middleman can buy directly from the artist’s estate. ‘Girls in the Windows’ is also a darling of the auction market … In 2017 alone, an amazing 13 copies were put on the block and instead of depressing the prices, one of them set a record for the image, at $56,906. Seven have been sold at auctions this year, and … another one sold at Phillips in London for 30,480 British pounds, roughly $38,000 and well over the high estimate … Add up the prices of all the copies already sold and you end up with a number in the range of $12 million.”

+ Recently purchased: Sézane Jake Jumper, UGG Mini UGGbraid Boots, Daily Practice by Anthropologie Turtleneck Sweater Midi Dress, Amazon Essentials Men’s Long-Sleeve 100% Cotton Fisherman Cable Crewneck Sweater (I own this in multiple colorways), Burberry Hooded Vintage Check Cashmere Blend Scarf, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizing Cream, Theory Wool & Cashmere Polo Minidress, RBX Fleece Lined Leggings, The Row Half Moon Leather Shoulder Bag, and Ann Taylor Mixed Cable Turtleneck Sweater.

Have a good week, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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