I’ve run across similar in my travels. It depends on Corporate, really. For instance, at the chain where I started out, we weren’t allowed to get too fancy decorating custom cakes – no freehand drawing, no promising a particular shade of color, for example. Their reasoning? Anyone who knew how to decorate should be able to do a cake order. Not everybody could draw freehand. We could never promise that exact particular shade of color.
Another reason is production time. The larger chains – my current employer being one of them – all have to conform to a timetable. If that timetable says that you’re supposed to decorate X number of cookies in Y number of minutes, you’re going to do them as fast as you can. There’s no time for extra flourishes and whatnot. Like the restaurant business, the faster you accomplish X number of tasks, the more tasks you can do. The more tasks you can do, the less labor costs for the company.
As for the prohibition of donating…another Corporate thing. One chain where I worked didn’t allow it. Whatever we didn’t sell on the day-old rack was tossed into the dumpster. Other chains didn’t have day-old racks and donated everything.