The iconic symbol of the holiday season is, of course, the Jolly Red Giant (aka Santa Claus), followed by Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch, and a host of other characters clamoring for our attention. If you run your finger far enough down the list, however, you might find find an entity that doesn’t exactly reach for the spotlight.

I’m talking about the cookie demon. Cookie demons, actually, because there are surely a great many of them to judge by the results of their conniving. I’ve never actually seen one of these critters, but I know all too well their effect on brains and fingers every year at this time.

A person might figure she is safe, having suffered through last year’s epidemic, but there doesn’t seem to be any acquired immunity. Within a couple of days following the Thanksgiving Overstuffedness, the susceptible human finds herself leaving the new novel on the bedside table and reaching instead for the most dangerous of reading materials, the cookbook.

A note here: The newer demons have branched out beyond the vanilla spattered printed pages, slipped past the 3″x5″ cards with pictures of roosters in the corner, even circumvented the treasured handwritten receipts from Great-Grandma. The fiends are using the internet to lure us in. How can a person who has been exposed to THE ALL-TIME FAVORITE QUADRILLION COOKIES fail to go dashing through the snow for fresh ground cinnamon and a quart-size bottle of vanilla?

I don’t blame the demons for the old favorites. I’m perfectly willing to put up with powdered sugar snow all over the kitchen in order to have sugar crescents, and my pantry is never without a big package of old-fashioned oats for the family standby.

But the demons are sneaky, and the new concoctions they add to the list cause me to spend my dollars at the market and my precious time in the kitchen. I’m a sucker for odd ingredients. Oh, I’m not talking about grasshoppers or Asian spices I can’t pronounce. However, I simply cannot resist trying to make Bacon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chewies or Cheddar Cheese Apple Bars. Rose petals? Maybe. Someday.

One of the trickiest maneuvers is the tagline that says “and you can’t tell it from the original!” I’ve made versions of every store-bought cookie known to man and a fair number of candy bar clones. The one universal truth about these is, whether they approximate the original or not, your homemade version will cost you more. But, you see, this is where the demons get you: I made it myself!

This year, I tried a recipe that claimed to be exactly like a certain candy bar. I won’t even name the bar, because the recipe is not what I’d call “exactly like.” As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even say “sort of like” except for a rather satisfying crunch in the middle. Nevertheless, after I tweaked it a little bit, it turned out to be a pretty darned good cookie/candy, and I don’t mind giving the demons credit for this one.

I’d be glad to share my new favorite with you, but I still haven’t figured out how to add a handy little blog box for recipes. Does anyone know where to find a blog demon?

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.