There’s Been an Accident at the Magical Cookie Factory!

Good afternoon, and thank you all for coming. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Greg Weston. I’m a managing partner at StormRock Capital, and, in 2023, my company purchased the magical tree in which you forest elves have been making cookies for the past five thousand years. I’m here today because I’ve learned that, quite understandably, some of you feel that we are making light of last week’s tragic events that led to our “Oops! All Rainbows!” promotional campaign. The fact is that the accident, which claimed the lives of seven elves, also destroyed our moon, candy-cane, unicorn, and treasure-chest cookie molds. Which is why, currently, the factory inside your sentient tree is only able to produce rainbow-shaped cookies. Please believe that if the tone of our “Oops! All Rainbows!” commercials seemed glib, or even celebratory, that was not our intention.

I know that the idea of baking cookies for a reason other than spreading love through this land and every land beyond the Wide Sea That No Elf Has Crossed is new for all of you. But selling your cookies is what allows StormRock to grow this company. To innovate. To buy new equipment so we can make more cookies and fill more tummies with oven-fresh yum-yums. Did that new equipment explode, cutting seven elves in half lengthwise while they were standing in a perfect row doing the Fresh Batch Dance? We all know that it did. And we all want to understand why that happened.

But a rush to judgment about what went wrong is simply not productive. Yes, the old oven—the iron and copper of which had been mined and forged by your ancient allies, the Dwarves of the Tall, Tall Mountain—worked for millennia without a single mishap. But it was heated by a friendly dragon whose appetite for sugar was unsustainable. The oven needed to be replaced if we were going to be competitive. And, yes, the new oven was made by Haizi Shouzhi Corp., which is owned by StormRock. We’ve never hidden that fact. It’s called vertical integration, and vertical integration does not cause ovens to explode. It just doesn’t.

So why did the oven fail, killing Chief Baker Blambrophil, alongside Nerbo, Son of Blambrophil? Not to forget little Oobli and stout Gleebo. And Murgo and his wife, Deleenia, who wouldn’t even have been there if Murgo hadn’t forgotten his honey sandwich and apple at home. And, of course, old Weeblomir the Gray, only a few weeks from retirement. Well, I’ll tell you exactly what killed them: wokeness.

The self-appointed D.E.I. police have forced an agenda on this entire realm, and it’s making workplaces unsafe. Just think of the time you wasted doing countless Zooms with that lady from human resources and then taking a test about what you learned on the Zooms. Time that could have been spent baking. Or singing to the cookie dough to make it even tastier. Or checking that the thermocouple pressure-release flange on the new oven had been installed correctly. The fact that it was installed backward is not the fault of Haizi Shouzhi or StormRock. Final assembly is done in Mexico—a faraway land of pyramids and jungles and Tod’s bachelor party—by a company that StormRock has a stake in, but that is run by an independent board of directors. O.K.? And, because that company also has government contracts, that means mandatory semi-annual D.E.I. training, and that means mistakes get made. Call me crazy, but I don’t really get how learning about “implicit bias” or how “women don’t like compliments anymore” helps you put a flange in correctly. Let alone make gooier and goodier cookies for tum-tums.

It’s madness. H.R. has become politicized, and D.E.I. is why you’re seeing more troll caves collapse. It’s why the wolf hordes have been encroaching on lands west of the Ferndil River. It’s why work isn’t fun anymore. But our hands are tied. If we don’t follow these new rules handed down by our socialist overlords, they’ll cancel me—with magic! They’ll do a cancellation spell on all of us!

Now, I know there are some older elves who might disagree with me about what went wrong. Elves who believe that, by making cookies for profit instead of for pure goodness, we have somehow violated a pact with the Enchanted Forest itself. That we have rent in twain an ancient oath that kept your clan and its trees safe from the Dark Forces That Live Below the Trees. Give me a break. What’s really changed? D.E.I. and all the Zooms and the hiring quotas. Forest elves are raised from birth to bake cookies, but now we have to hire river elves to help you?! As far as I know, all they’re good at is talking to fish, spreading unfathomable love, and, yes, making pastries. But they don’t specialize in cookies. And that’s the kind of thing that causes explosions.

At the end of the day, the whole point of our “Oops! All Rainbows!” promotion is to prove that StormRock remains committed to keeping this cookie factory in operation. But, in order to do that, we are all going to have to make sacrifices. With just one cookie mold, fewer elves are now required for baking, so there will be retraining and, possibly, downsizing. But the last thing we want to do is to have to sell this company for parts for the sake of short-term profit. After all, we certainly didn’t buy your magic tree just to skin it while it begs us not to and then sell the bark to Grimskar the Destroyer so he can finish whatever potion he’s working on. So let’s get back to work! ♦

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