We used to get Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies from a little window at the back of the junior-high cafeteria. They were 25 cents and the second that slick cellophane was off, totally worth it. My stepfather kept a jar of loose change in his closet. The year of ninth grade, I picked it clean of quarters, of any silver to load my neon Jansport with. The cool table was back near that corner of the lunchroom, with the hot guys in the Tommy Hilfiger jackets straddling narrow benches like a promise. You could stand shyly in line and glance their way while they completely ignored you. But it was something.
All of this hits me, a mouth-watering memory in the grocery aisle, while I clutch a box of Kellogg’s NEW Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies Cereal. So many words for a plain, white box. But there’s Deb smiling from the top, front, and center. Clad in light plaid, and is that an actual sun hat? She’s not as little as I remember. She is blushing, like a tween with a crush.
First and foremost, you know from the ENLARGED TO SHOW TEXTURE line that this cereal features absolutely no creme. LD spells it that way to sound bougie, but it has always been like that. Similar to my suburban cinema doing “theatre” on the sign, or why French women don’t get fat. Or maybe it’s a legal thing, and it cannot actually be called cream, even though the real deal is creamy and vaguely dairy-based in the middle.
What this cereal lacks in “kr-ehm” it makes up for in cinnamon, which hits your mouth immediately and lasts the whole bowlful. I’m disappointed each morsel is not shaped like a teeny-tiny hand pie. But that’s 2020 for you, and I recognize there are certain limits to cereal engineering. This is not Mini Brands, it’s breakfast, and I have to accept that. The pieces are solid and crunchy with a hint of vanilla and a lingering finish of molasses. The oatmeal flavor is subtle, but I know it’s there from the texture. I naturally assume it makes this item very healthy and hearty. Because it’s oatmeal.
Am I getting delicious, middle-school cafeteria vibes? Not quite. But I’ll buy it again. If only to relive the memory of that time I had dessert after my first kiss. It wasn’t a real kiss, much like this isn’t a real Oatmeal Creme Pie. It was up on the second floor near the auditorium, and we were acting out Romeo and Juliet in English class. I was Juliet and he was Romeo, and his finger covered my lips for the entire “let lips do what hands do” moment. I disappeared in embarrassment, and then it was lunchtime. My pockets jingling with quarters. The heat rising in my face.