What kind of world can make you distrust Little Debbie?

brownie1Island Packet — Food recalls happen all the time these days, as apparently it’s much easier for contaminants, animal segments and funk to get into food production facilities than most folks seem aware, which is good, probably.

It sounds ghastly, but I figure that some percentage of food-borne funk creeps into my system every day, more so depending on the percentage of that day’s Taco Bell visits, so I just try to close my eyes and not think about it. I figure I have not yet come down with any terribly serious stomach-based chaos, although I guess that could explain why in conversation I’ll often have to stop and concentrate for like 30 seconds to find a word I’m looking for, an embarrassing brain-lapse that recently happened involving the extremely intricate foreign-sounding phrase “glove compartment.”

But I think I can now blame that sort of thing on Little Debbie and probably John Thain, and here is why: For nearly all of the years 1992-93, my high school lunch consisted entirely — not a hyperbolic “entirely,” not a partial “entirely,” but THIS IS ALL I ATE FOR TWO YEARS “entirely” — of two Little Debbie brownies, procured from a worrisome part of the lunchroom known as the “Junk Food Line.” (Kids, if you’re reading, know that whatever “healthy alternatives” they’re forcing you to chork down for lunch these days have not always been the standard, because some of us recently attended institutions that allowed their students to eat only brownies, and sometimes a Red Snapple, and send them back to Pre-Algebra without a second thought.)

Which is why this particular recall is punching me right in the gut. Let’s be honest, people ignore most recalls — in the past few months alone I’ve sort of brushed over ones involving candy and a really obnoxious one from my car company which keeps telling me about, I don’t even remember, something to do with my brake line.

But Little Debbie’s history of producing vitamin-packed oxidant-laden health foods hit a bit of a hiccup last week when its peanut butter crackers were linked to a salmonella outbreak, resulting in the AP publishing this completely awesome sentence: “(Little Debbie’s parent company) said it had not received any complaints about illnesses from people who ate any size peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers or peanut butter cheese sandwich crackers.” If we can no longer trust our peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers, the terrorists truly have won.

Other companies have joined the recall as well, removing from shelves products that contain peanut butter from the amazingly named Peanut Corp. of America, which is apparently a real company but also the name of an incredibly hilarious army of anthropomorphic snack treats marching in formation in my head right now. You can’t see it, but it’s awesome. I even have a slogan: The Peanut Corp. of America: We Are Tough Nuts To Crack. OK, I’m still working on the slogan.

The recall doesn’t extend to all peanuts, and in fact it’s mostly applied to peanut paste. But still, if this ends up being my last column, if in this space next week there’s someone making awkward excuses for my absence, don’t believe a word of it. ’Twas brownies killed the beast.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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