Dorothy Wilhelm: The story of the vanishing Oreos

Contributing writerApril 6, 2014 

OK, I admit it. I took the Oreos. After all, they had double fluffy filling. I was helpless from the start.

“You didn’t just take them,” my daughter-in-law corrected, firmly but not unkindly, when the Great Minnesota Cookie Crisis arose last week. “You ate them. All of them.”

Depends what you mean by all. The century-old Oreos are, after all, the most popular cookie in America.

I am a proponent of intuitive living, and the intuitive thing to do with cookies is to eat them. The crisis came to light when snack time came and the package was empty. I was tempted to blame my teenage grandson who shared the treat, but a visiting Grandma must be faithful, so I bravely held my head high and stayed silent.

Traveling to Minnesota, I discovered in the TSA security screening line that people past age 75 no longer have to take off their shoes or jacket for screening. At my place in life, people tend to beg me to leave as many clothes as possible on.

Minnesota snow country is magical. We attended the Disney fantasy movie, “Frozen.” In Minnesota it’s a reality show and everyone has seen it. Twice. My daughter-in-law introduced me to a very valuable phone app:, which tells when you can take a potty break at the movies without missing anything vital. In “Frozen,” a four-minute opportunity comes 46 minutes into the show. Your cue for the dash comes when “Anna puts on the snowman’s head.” This app even thoughtfully includes a synopsis of what you missed while you were out. I wish I’d had this for the super-long “Monuments Men.”

I was privileged to be on hand for a real magic moment when my youngest grandson learned to read for himself. We were reading “Katie and The Big Snow” (by Virginia Lee Burton, author of the beloved “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”). As I read aloud, the little boy listened intently. Then, he suddenly he took over reading and sounding out the words. His parents have worked hard to instill a love of reading and story in their children. Everybody cheered!

I am often asked about what happens next in the family stories I tell, and I have to admit that readers won’t always see the best or funniest parts.

When I started out writing and telling stories, I shared all the details of “cute” family events. I totally overlooked the fact that this might not be OK with my children.

One day, inspirational Christian humorist Florence Littauer laid it out for me.

“Just because a story happened to you, it doesn’t belong to you,” she told me, firmly.

I’ve made an informal agreement with each of my children about what stories are “legal” to share with the world. Since one son is an attorney, this is no light description. One of my offspring does not want to be mentioned at all, ever. If I insist on mentioning this person, I am to say he or she is a boy named Stan. Number Two Son gives me permission to use his stories but not material from his Facebook page. Number Four Son does not give permission to mention his children’s names. And there’s one amendment allowing no stories about potty training. You can see that the scars remain for a long time.

But ready or not, April’s here. “Nope, sorry. I didn’t get enough done during March, so it can’t be April yet,” younger daughter writes.

With Easter coming, we’ll be getting together to share seasonal joy, malted milk eggs and Oreos. It might be a good time to do a family check and see if the stories you’re sharing with the world are cringe-worthy for your kids. I don’t think there’s an app for that.

Our family stories are the pearls we share, and of course, pearls become more beautiful with use. But storytellers have the role of reporters as well. Like all good reporters, we have to protect our sources.

My son took pity on me and bought three packages of Oreos, so you could say I was responsible for the family largesse. I have every confidence that when my family tells the Oreo story, they won’t say that the cookies were eaten by their lovable geriatric grandma. I’m pretty sure Stan did it.

Dorothy Wilhelm is a professional speaker and writer. Follow Dorothy’s blog at Contact her at P.O. Box 881, DuPont WA, 98327. Phone 800-548-9264, email

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