VanDam cookie legend grows

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The CITGO Bassmaster Legends Tournament presented by Goodyear was named to honor the founder of BASS, Ray Scott. But the title is plural — Legends. And another legend — Sherry VanDam's "magic cookies" — grew by a quarter of a million dollars Sunday when Scott Rook won the tournament.

 "Kevin has loaded me up with his magic cookies all week," Rook said. "Apparently they are pretty special."

 The legend of the cookies began two years ago. Before Kevin VanDam leaves home to fish a tournament, his wife, Sherry, presents him with a box of her special chocolate chip cookies.

 "There's a special ingredient," Sherry said.

 Obviously they've worked well for Kevin, the three-time BASS Angler of the Year and two-time Bassmaster Classic champion, who ranks No. 1 in all-time BASS winnings with over $2 million.

 "It's a lot of fun for us," Kevin said. "Anything that gives you confidence is something you want to have with you. Some people have a lucky rock or lucky shoes. These cookies are special.

 "It's something my wife does for me when I leave for a tournament. It's very meaningful. My kids are into it, too."

 Davy Hite got in on the magic last year.

 "Davy is the one who really started (the legend)," VanDam said. "We started rooming together and I gave him some of the cookies. They are really good cookies.

 "We both made every cut last year. He's like, man, these are the lucky cookies. We've got to have the lucky cookies. That kind of started the whole thing."

 Rook, who lives in Little Rock, invited VanDam and Hite to stay at his house while they were here this week for the Legends Tournament.

 "I've held out on him for most of the year," VanDam said. "That just really helped build the legend of the cookies."

 Rook has had, in his own words, "less than a stellar year."

 "Scott saw what happened last year," VanDam said. "Scott had asked me and asked me for some of the cookies this year. This is why it's meaningful. I kept saying, no, no, no. When I finally gave him one this week you would have thought I gave him a million dollars of solid gold."

 VanDam gave Rook three cookies Saturday. Rook caught three keeper fish, which was enough to propel him into Sunday's final. But VanDam zeroed Saturday.

 "I thought he was supposed to give Scott the ones that didn't have the special ingredient," said Sherry, with a sly smile on her face. "Apparently Kevin took the ones without the secret ingredient."

 Since VanDam didn't make the cut to the final six anglers, he gave Rook five cookies Sunday morning.

 Sure enough, Rook secured first place and the $250,000 check that went with it Sunday. It came with no prompting from anyone when Rook said, "Kevin has loaded me up with the magic cookies all week. Apparently they are pretty special."

 Rook recounted an incident Sunday afternoon that further solidified the legend of the cookies.

 "I was going along there today, and I hadn't caught a fish in awhile," Rook said. "My cameraman said, I think it's time for another one of those cookies. I'd forgot all about them."

 So Rook pulled out the magic cookies and ate one.

 "I went to the next hole," Rook said, "and that's when I caught my last keepers."

 Sherry VanDam's cookies are definitely keepers. But after Sunday, it may be increasingly difficult to pry them from Kevin VanDam's hands.

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