Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

Ah, Little Debbie, purveyor of ultra-cheap sweet treats and desserts!  When I was a kid, I heard of Little Debbie treats, but their distribution didn't extend to my state.  Now that I'm an adult living in the Lower 48, I still think of Little Debbie with a little thrill of the excitement of novelty, of advertising promises finally - after long last - fulfilled.

Let's be honest: Little Debbie desserts are not "good" in the traditional sense of the word.  Their primary appeal is their price.  They pack a substantial caloric wallop for the dollar, which is exactly the kind of insidious math I'm trying to push back against with my Cheap Good Food series over on the Health Food Talk blog.  

For example, this box of 12 Oatmeal Creme Pies clocks in at over a pound of cookie (1 lb .2 ounces).  At 170 calories per pie, the entire box represents 2,040 calories - as much as an average-sized American man should eat in an entire day.  All that for only $1.59!

If these pies were several dollars apiece, I'd definitely turn up my nose at them.  But at only thirteen cents apiece, I have to admit that they do carry an elusive, trashy appeal.  

Despite being the junkiest of junk foods, the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie has a surprisingly subtle and complex flavor.  When you open the little package, the dominating smell is that of "oatmeal cookie," rendered so perfectly as to seem almost artificial, as if you were sniffing an oatmeal cookie-scented candle.  The primary taste notes are oatmeal, molasses, and a particularly fake vanilla flavor which I trust comes from the "creme" filling."

In reading the ingredients, I was frankly surprised to find raisins, coconut, and dried apples listed.  Now that I know they're in there, I suppose I can detect a certain fruity note.  I'm willing to accept that they add to the complexity of the flavor, although dominated by the molasses.

I would charitably describe the texture of the soft oatmeal cookies as "tender."  But if you wanted to describe them as "mushy," I wouldn't contradict you.  If you hold the pie out horizontally by one side, it will gradually succumb to gravity by flopping over like a slowly swooning Southern belle.

The cookies are a little bit gritty.  (Perhaps that is the influence of the heretofore-hidden raisins, coconut, and dried apple pieces.)  It crumbles as you bite it, and seems to be held together only by the grace of the filling.  The whole thing quickly devolves into an odd little mash of sticky sweetness.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!

The creme filling is I suppose a kind of marshmallow fluff.  It adds little to the flavor, and even less to the texture.  Its purpose seems mainly to be to serve as spackle, and as a moisturizer for the cookie.

I gather these cookies are meant to mimic Whoopie Pies.  But they do it so poorly that it's hardly even worth making the comparison.