recipesTimothy Lillis

Stolen Spicy Oat Squares

recipesTimothy Lillis
Stolen Spicy Oat Squares
My grandmother is going to be so happy to hear about this.
— Julia, whose real name we’re protecting, on the one silver lining of this data breach since her grandmother’s Spicy Oat Square recipe is now internet famous

Stolen Spicy Oat Squares

Having your personal information exposed in a data breach can be an awful experience. In Julia’s case, it might end up making her grandmother proud, which is the best case scenario anyone could dare to hope for.

Julia’s personal information, like her HR files and the contents of her emails, was part of a corporate data breach at a company she interned for several years ago.

“I learned about it on Christmas Eve,” Julia said, describing the moment she found out about the breach. “I picked up my phone for the first time in five hours and I had something like 18 texts from coworkers saying ‘This happened. What do you know?’ We didn’t really know what was happening.”

Julia spent the holidays with her extended family and her laptop nearby, not quite knowing what to expect.

“I had kind of a panicky moment, like ‘oh no what emails have I sent that are embarrassing.’”

Luckily, Julia hadn’t sent anything she’d regret. She locked down all of her accounts and changed all of her passwords right away, so the breach had a pretty minimal effect on her. However, because she was part of a corporate breach, and the company she worked for had been storing subscriber data such as home addresses and credit card numbers, the emotional toll of the breach continued. Julia was one of the employees who called affected subscribers to let them know that the breach had happened.

“We were all given a script and were expected to spend a couple of hours a week calling people and reassuring them that their information was safe. I was not responsible for making the calls saying ‘Your credit card information was taken,’ though I know that was a problem, too.”

Having your personal info put at risk is one kind of vulnerability, but calling subscribers and letting them know there was a breach, even if they weren’t affected, is a whole new level.

“Those were some of the more awkward phone calls I’ve had to make,” Julia said.


  • 1 box Quaker oat squares

  • 1 tsp garlic salt

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp dill weed

  • 2 tsp lemon pepper

  • 1 package ranch dressing mix (the dry stuff, not actual dressing)

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil, doesn't matter.


  1. Mix all the spices with the oil.

  2. Pour over oat squares.

  3. Eat as is or bake on cookie sheet for 15 minutes at like 250.
    I don't usually bake them but my grandma does.

Chef’s notes on her grandmother’s recipe: “For basically as long as my memory goes back she’s been making this recipe. It’s obviously a snacky thing. Like anytime I’m at my grandmother’s place there will be pickles, carrots, nuts and oat squares. That’s kind of like the appetizer-y thing available at any family gathering in the history of my life.”

One tiny silver lining in all of this was that one Julia’s emails included in the breach did contain a not-so-secret family recipe for spicy oat squares. Of all the things that could have been leaked, this recipe from her grandmother might be the sweetest, and already the most public.

“I’m not sure how long my grandmother has been making it but I have definitely shared it far and wide,” Julia said. The friend she sent this email to at the time still makes these spicy oat squares, years later. Julia does, too.

Years later, Julia also thinks twice about what she puts in writing or shares online. While she doesn’t live in fear of another breach and hasn’t drastically changed the way she shows up online (aside from some healthy privacy practices like regularly changing her secure passwords), her takeaway from the whole experience is one everyone could benefit from: “Just don’t take it for granted that your information is safe online.”


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