Have you ever had any of the Little Debbie snacks, particularly as a kid? If so, do you still like them? Do you think it’s possible to outgrow them or the nostalgia they might bring up?
Their latest ad campaign would have you believe that it is not, in fact, possible or even desirable to outgrown Little Debbie products. Consider this commercial of a little girl showing up in a grocery store, the younger version of a woman shopping, and encouraging the older her to revisit her favorite childhood powdered donuts.
It’s kind of cute, but the commercial bothered me because I have outgrown Little Debbie, and I’m very happy about it. Then again, my experience with them was not the ideal suggested by the commercial.
First, though, I should say how much I loved some of their snacks when I was younger. I’ve always been a sucker for nut and chocolate combinations, so I adored Nutty Bars. In addition to the taste, I enjoyed the combination of textures, with the crisp wafers and creamy spread. To top it off, I could take them, apart, eating one wafer at a time to prolong the experience.
Similarly, Swiss Rolls were fun because I could unroll them and eat them in stages. (I guess this was the adolescent version of playing with my food.) Chocolate was always good, with the soft cake part and the candy-like coating, while the cream provided a perfect complement and contrast. (I liked Klondike Bars for the same reason.)
Those two were my favorites, although I might eat others in a pinch to get a sugar rush. But although I can look at them now and remember all this, I have no desire to have them again, for two reasons.
The simplest reason is they’re too sweet and processed for me these days. If I’m going to have something sugary, I want it to be better balanced, preferably handmade, with homemade being the best.
But the primary reason Nutty Bars and Swiss rolls don’t appeal to me is because I associate them with shame and secrecy and guilt. Pretty much the only times I got them when I was younger was at a friend’s house, where I could sneak them from her kitchen. Whether nor not I was hungry didn’t matter. I wanted them because they were forbidden, sweet, easily portable, and exotic to me, whose parents didn’t buy almost anything pre-made.
When I see these commercials, therefore, those are the emotions that come up, not any sense of joy or reconnecting with my past. And those particular feelings are ones I have no desire to resurrect – rather, I am relieved to have outgrown them, and the foods I associate with them.