A Chip Off the Old Chocolate

Published 11:57 am Thursday, May 21, 2015

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Patrick Voith, an accomplished pilot who flies a sleek King Air 200 plane for M&F Western Products Co. in Sulphur Springs, would have stumped the panel had he appeared on the old TV quiz show, What’s My Line.
He could have claimed to be a “food taster” for Texas billionaire Ross Perot. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but he did share a cookie with the 1992 independent presidential candidate-the Texarkana native who founded mega-companies-Electronic Data Systems and later Perot Systems.
Perot, who will be 85 on June 27, ate the “other half of the cookie” on the occasion of his 81st—possibly 82nd—birthday.  As The Sound of Music theme song suggests, we’d best start at the beginning—a very good place to start. Background information is critical to understanding how such an unlikely chain of events could link up so seamlessly.
Patrick’s mom, Nancy Voith-now living in her hometown of Knoxville, TN-joined EDS in 1979. She rose to Director of Communications during her 28-year Dallas career, working closely with Perot in his business.
She returns to Dallas at every opportunity to visit Patrick, his wife Mandy and 15-month-old granddaughter Kennedy.  Nancy was in Big D for Perot’s aforementioned birthday. (She visits him on or near his birthday annually and typically takes him a birthday gift.)
Anyway, she purchased chocolate chip cookies at the La Madeleine restaurant, remembering how much Perot enjoys this rich dessert. Why not purchase three monster cookies, thought she, “fancying up” the La Madeleine cookie box with a birthday ribbon? A piece of cake, she figured.
The concept was strong, looked great on paper and could easily have worked. When she returned to her son’s home, she placed the box on the kitchen table. She planned to add the ribbon later when she left for the party.
Soon, however, Patrick walked through the kitchen. He is something of a “cookie monster,” particularly when the marked box is a dead giveaway as to contents. The master of his house, he did what most American males would do. Salivating, he lifted the lid, spied the three giant cookies and was intoxicated by their grand aroma.
Unadvised that the cookies were to be Perot’s birthday gift, he showed considerable restraint, breaking off just one-half of one cookie. Salivating liberally with each jaw movement, he slowly chewed each bite. Then he placed the lid back on the box and went on his way.
Later, his mom whipped through the kitchen, attached a festive bow to the box and headed for Perot’s office, the birthday cookie surprise in tow.
During the visit in his private office, Perot-like Patrick earlier-spotted the unmistakable La Madeleine box. He, too, salivated, and he, too, loved the aroma. As might be expected, he simply couldn’t wait, asking, “What do you have for me there?”
Tearing the ribbon away, he spotted the half-cookie. Repeatedly, he alternated stares, first at the cookie, then at Nancy. He lifted the partial cookie from the box for her to see, then took a bite might near as big as the young pilot’s chomp a few hours earlier.
For Nancy, as one might guess, time stopped. Immediately, she was 100% certain where the missing half of cookie had wound up. Then, she—in 50 shades of red—tried to explain what probably happened, as Perot continued to slowly eat the cookie, enjoying her momentary embarrassment. It all made for a good laugh before the visit was over.
It’s a vignette often shared. Patrick’s boss, M&F President Mickey Eddins, thrives on the re-telling, often at 25,000 feet, somewhere over the U.S. (Mickey and wife Linda have three sons, and they consider Patrick-a 2001 Richardson HS graduate and a 2005 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—to be a member of the family. He’s been the M&F pilot for five years.)
Nancy, who will have a grandson to visit come September when she’s in Dallas, will likely wind up at other future Perot birthday observances. Count on her creative juices to flow freely when she shops for birthday gifts. There is little likelihood, though, that future presents will be edible. Perot and his “taster” will be the losers.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Archived at Newbury blog, venturegalleries.com.