Margarine. For the margarine, I was able to only find one product that seems to come close to the margarine that PJ uses for its Mega Chocolate Chip Cookie. It is a new product from Walmart. In fact, it is so new that I wasn’t able to find anything on that product online, even on the Walmart website. The product itself contains palm oil and palm kernel and soybean oil and is also a 0 Trans Fat product. It contains 80% vegetable oil. The margarine is sold under the Great Value brand, in stick form, and the box shows a rolling pin with the words “Great for Baking” within the image of the rolling pin. Below the rolling pin are images of chocolate chip cookies. Better yet is the price of the GV margarine. In my local Walmart, the price is $1.36 for four sticks (one pound). There are other products that include palm oil and palm kernel, but the ones I saw in my local supermarkets were less than 80% vegetable oil.
Yesterday the FDA announced that it intends to eventually eliminate all trans fats from all foods. When I heard the news, I thought about the relationship of trans fats to your discussion on PJ's cookie. In many of the news reports I saw/read, the reporter noted that the food industry was already working on (or has already created) substitutes for items that contain trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).
Trans fats are being eliminated because they provide no health benefit, while increasing bad cholesterol levels and decreasing good cholesterol levels. In 2006, the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to include trans fats on nutritional labels. (http://www.nbcnews.com/health/fda-wants-ban-trans-fats-food-8C11551559
PHOs are included in foods over more naturally occurring fats because of taste, texture, and shelf life reasons (http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-rise-and-fall-of-trans-fat-20131107,0,63247.story#axzz2k4rGUDKV
Palm oil appears to be the food industry's substitute for PHOs. Since palm oil contains no trans fats, restaurateurs and grocers can label items derived from palm oil as containing zero trans fats. However, despite the seemingly healthier label, it appears palm oil is not an acceptable healthy substitute for PHOs, and causes the same adverse health affects as PHOs (http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2009/090415.htm
This weekend I intend to make a chocolate chip cookie using an 8'' dark non-stick cake pan, unsalted butter, and volume measurements, as these are items readily available to most households, and the butter is a better form of fat than the palm oil. I think the 8'' dark cake pan will have a much bigger effect on the final product than the butter, and I am curious as to how I will need to compensate in other areas in order to get a good cookie. For starters, I may lower my oven temperature and increase my baking time, as I'm not sure PJ's high-temp ovens and short bake times provide an added benefit to the final product (other than convenience and economics for Papa John's, of course).
I am sure most of the information above is already known to you: I thought it best to get it posted for anyone reading. I am curious to hear your thoughts on this, although I know using butter and cake pans is a major deviation from PJ's methodology.