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  • Writer's pictureTamara S. Graham

In a Time of Oreo's

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Why are Oreo's so comforting? Or is it addicting? Do you remember your first Oreo cookie? Stress eating is multi-faceted and a subconscious habit that is hard to break. When did it start?

When I was a child, we only had enough "treats" to divide up between my older brother and me for each of 5 school lunches. It worked well until he hit puberty and would selfishly eat the whole box of HoHo's, Ding Dong's, cupcakes or whatever Hostess snack cake my mom bought expecting it to last the week. I cannot even express the sadness and future triggers that imprint left on me. But that's another story, or is it? Perhaps there is a subconscious layer there for my adult behavior of never eating the last one or last bite of anything. My empathic heart could not be the cause of that kind of disappointment in another human when they looked forward to something, only to find out it was gone. I don't think I was even born with the selfish gene, but thanks to my brother, my coping mechanism is a far swing towards the extreme other side - I give too much.

The idea of only having one of something, but being grateful for that single one stuck with me and "binging" like my brother was never possible for my compassionate personality. Since my childhood family only had enough money to shop once a week for the same old groceries, with the same old budget, there were never opportunities to just "go get some more". (Except of course for my parents cigarettes, they always found extra money for those!)

Because of these factors, going to my best friend's house 2 blocks away was where I fell in love with what Oreo's represented to me; abundance and loving care. In Julie's family home, I found safety and comfort in general, but the best, most impressive part for me was that they always had an open bag of Oreo's! Their pantry was this magical place that had a never ending supply of Oreo's, and no rules to limit your indulgence or worry of taking the last one. In fact, on more than one occasion, Julie's grandfather, a retired postal delivery man, would make a big fuss over a bag that was almost empty and jump up to walk to the store to buy another bag! As an adult, I look back and realize that he needed to take a walk to continue his daily exercise and most likely wanted to get away from the women in the house. Lol! But, to me that was the utmost in care and generosity. I don't think I ever saw him eat even one Oreo, so I viewed it as an act of pure love for his family.

Midnight snack attacks were common in the early days of raising my own family. When my kids were little, I often craved sweets when I got stressed so while the kids slept I would sneak into the kitchen to grab an Oreo or ten, often at midnight. I always had Oreo's and other sweet treats in our family pantry because of my childhood memories and what those comforting cookies represented. As a parent, I realized on a nutritional level it wasn't a great snack for my own kids, so I tried not to over indulge when they were watching. I am grateful they didn't end up with my sweet tooth, because I never let the Oreo's (or candy) run out. Or perhaps, they just never attached emotion to sweets as I did.

My children's friends would come over and be in awe of all the treats available with no limitations. A bit of reverse psychology perhaps, that I did not do intentionally, because my kids would never over-indulge. Sweet treats were always available in our house so they didn't seem to share society's urge to consume deserts just because someone told them they couldn't or shouldn't.

There was a bit of rebellion in me when someone tried to limit my treats, my self-comfort. My ex-husband used to see me grab 4 or 5 Oreo's and since he wanted me to get back to being as thin as I was when we met, he used to ask, "Are you going to eat all of those?" I didn't see this as a question really, but more of a judgement or acknowledgement that I was being watched. This caused an over-reaction, childhood trigger, and unhealthy relationship dynamic. I would end up rebelling and eat half the bag instead, perhaps to prove to myself that I was "in control". Hah, quite the opposite! It took me years of self discovery; to connect those dots, to release the over-indulgent rebellious guilt for sneaking treats, and to change my triggered behavior.

Intellectually I know that Oreo's do not equal comfort, and even cause quite the opposite effect in my body, especially now that their ingredients are not as pure as they once were. Although I have done my share of self improvement and years of therapy to resolve many of my childhood issues, my heart still sees Oreo's through a different lens. They have been with me for many of my emotional milestones, and like a trusted friend, will always have a special place in my heart.

Over the years, the midnight Oreo cookie snacking continued with my grown children during their high school and college years, since that was often the only time we had to just sit and chat - once the homework was finally done. I cherished those times, and look back fondly and look forward to more. Sweetness for sweet times.

Emotions are a tricky thing and can make my go-to celebratory indulgence or stress-eating almost always involve Oreos. I still associate the chocolate sandwich cookie with it's center of vanilla creme as wonderful times in my life and I don't really want to change that. I can choose to indulge and not feel guilty. That is a welcome improvement! I have even looked for alternative, healthier options and settled on organic versions or gluten-free ones. While better for my body, they don't quite offer the same comfort. I have gone years without eating the real Oreo's, but once I taste them, I remember them almost on a cellular level and go through a binge but then I can put them aside again.

Now-a-days, with the state of the pandemic and so many unknowns, I find myself reverting back to my craving, my love of Oreo's. The fake ones won't satisfy me, and you know what? That's ok. I am glad to have the comfort and don't care if it adds a little extra "double stuff", love handles to my body. Maybe the number after COVID-19 is how many pounds we will gain during quarantine? Lol Oh and don't get me started on the exclusive, seasonal, limited offering of the fudge covered Oreos! They used to come in a box with white fudge covering. Now I can only find them around the holidays with chocolate fudge, but oh so worth waiting for!

My heart is happy to remember all of the stages of my life and how many things I have been through - with Oreo's by my side. They take me back to a time when I wasn't always sure I would get through life, but I did. Great little reminders of my strength and perseverance, these little cookies are! Strange little friends, but I'm happy I don't have to socially distance from them!

Thank you Oreo's for the wonderful memories and happy snacking!

P.S. Oreo makers, if you are listening... PLEASE make organic ones! Thank you in advance!

Tami is an optimistic, nurturing soul, full of great maternal compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for the misunderstood sensitive souls that have come here to change the world, The Sunshine Books. Follow this blog for more of her heartfelt ponderings about life and her love for children and animals.

{Copyright 2019 - 2021 - Most photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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