Oreo
Two Oreo cookies
Product typeSandwich cookie
OwnerMondelez International[a]
Produced by
CountryUnited States
IntroducedMarch 6, 1912; 112 years ago (1912-03-06)[2]
MarketsWorldwide
Tagline"Wonderfilled"
"Milk's favorite cookie"
"Only Oreo"
"Stay Playful"
Websitewww.oreo.com

Oreo (/ˈɔːri/; stylized in all caps) is a brand of sandwich cookie consisting of two cocoa biscuits or cookie pieces with a sweet fondant[3] filling. It was introduced by Nabisco on March 6, 1912,[4] and through a series of corporate acquisitions, mergers, and splits, both Nabisco and the Oreo brand have been owned by Mondelez International since 2012.[5] Oreo cookies are available in over one hundred countries.[2] Many varieties of Oreo cookies have been produced, and limited-edition runs have become popular in the 21st century.

Oreos are an imitation of the Hydrox chocolate cream-centered cookie introduced in 1908, but it outstripped Hydrox in popularity so largely that many believe Hydrox is an imitation of Oreo. Oreo has been the highest-selling cookie brand in the world since 2014.[6]

Etymology

The origin of the name "Oreo" is unknown, but there are many hypotheses, including derivations from the French word or, meaning "gold", or from the Greek word ωραίο (oreo) meaning "nice" or "attractive".[7] Others believe that the cookie was named Oreo simply because the name was short and easy to pronounce.[8] Another theory, proposed by the food writer Stella Parks, is that the name derives from the Latin Oreodaphne, a genus of the laurel family. She observes that the original design of the Oreo includes a laurel wreath, and the names of several of Nabisco's cookies at the time of the original Oreo had botanical derivations, including Avena, Lotus, and Helicon (from Heliconia).[9][10]

History

20th century

Representation of the trademarked pattern embossed onto the face of an Oreo cookie

The "Oreo Biscuit" was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) in 1912[4][11][12] at its Chelsea, New York City factory in the present-day Chelsea Market complex, located on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets.[13] In 2002, this same block of Ninth Avenue was ceremoniously named as "Oreo Way".[4][13] The name Oreo was trademarked on March 14, 1912.[14] It was launched as an imitation of the original Hydrox cookie manufactured by Sunshine company, which was introduced in 1908.[15]

The original design on the face of the Oreo featured a wreath around the edge of the cookie and the name "OREO" in the center.[16] In the United States, they were sold for $0.25 (equivalent to $7.89 in 2023) a pound (454 g) in novelty metal canisters with clear glass tops. The first Oreo was sold on March 6, 1912, to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey.[17]

Oreo advertisement, 1961

The Oreo Biscuit was renamed in 1921 to "Oreo Sandwich";[7] in 1948, the name was changed to "Oreo Crème Sandwich"; and in 1974 it became the "Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie",[7] the name that has remained to this day. A new design for the face of the cookie was launched in 1924;[16] the modern-day Oreo design was developed in 1952 by William A. Turnier,[18] incorporating the Nabisco logo. In 1920, a second lemon crème-filled variety of the Oreo was introduced, as an alternative to the white crème-filled variety, but this was discontinued in 1924[16] and the original flavor was the only version available for the next several decades.[19]

The modern Oreo cookie filling was developed by Nabisco's principal food scientist, Sam Porcello,[13][20] who retired from Nabisco in 1993.[13] Porcello held five patents directly related to his work on the Oreo;[20] he also created a range of Oreo cookies that were covered in dark chocolate and white chocolate.[13][20] In the early 1990s, health concerns prompted Nabisco to replace the lard in the crème filling with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.[21] This also made it possible for the bakery to become kosher-certified, a lengthy and expensive process for Nabisco.[22] Similarly, Oreo cookies are popular with people that have certain dietary restrictions, such as vegans, as the crème filling does not use any animal products.[23] However, there is still a risk of cross-contamination from other dairy-containing products made in the same production areas; in the FAQ section of the Oreo website, on the question of whether Oreo cookies are suitable for vegans, the response is "Many Oreo products are suitable for vegans but may include cross-contaminants of milk, so please check allergen advice."[24]

21st century

An Oreo cookie with multiple fillings in rainbow colors followed by the caption "June 25, Pride."
2012 Rainbow Oreo advertisement supporting Pride month

In January 2006, Nabisco and its parent (at the time) Kraft Foods eliminated the trans fat in the Oreo cookie and replaced it with non-hydrogenated vegetable oil as one of the main ingredients for oreo cookies in general.[21][25][26]

In June 2012, Oreo posted an advertisement displaying an Oreo cookie with rainbow-colored crème to celebrate LGBT Pride month;[27] the cookie itself was fictional and was not being manufactured or made available for sale. The advertisement prompted some negative comments from conservatives, but Kraft stood by their promotion, stating that "Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values."[28] This was followed during 2012 by a series of adverts commemorating other holidays and events, including a blue, white, and red crème Oreo to honor Bastille Day, a stream of cookie crumbs marking the appearance of the Delta Aquariids meteor shower, and a cookie with a jagged bite taken out of it to promote Shark Week on Discovery Channel.

When the power went out during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, the Oreo marketing team tweeted "you can still dunk in the dark" from its social media command center; this was retweeted almost 15,000 times and increased Oreo's count of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers.[29] One commentator remarked that this "solidified the viability and necessity of real-time marketing".[30]

According to an April 2022 research report published in the journal Physics of Fluids, it was proven impossible to split the cream filling of an Oreo cookie down the middle. The filling always adheres to one side of the wafer, no matter how quickly the cookie is twisted.[31]

International distribution

Oreo cookies are distributed worldwide through a variety of sales and marketing channels. As their popularity continues to grow, so too does the amount of distribution that comes with it. According to the Kraft Foods company, the Oreo is the "World's Best Selling Cookie".[32] In March 2012, Time magazine reported that Oreo cookies were available in more than 100 countries. Overall, it is estimated that since the Oreo cookie's inception in 1912, over 450 billion Oreos have been produced worldwide.[17]

Oreos were first introduced into Britain through the supermarket chain Sainsbury's. For several years, this was the only supermarket chain in the UK to stock the Oreo until May 2008, when Kraft decided to fully launch the Oreo across the whole of the UK. Its packaging was redesigned into the more familiar British tube design, accompanied by a £4.5M television advertising campaign based around the "twist, lick, dunk" catchphrase.[33] In a 2020 national poll the Oreo was ranked the 16th most popular biscuit in the UK, with McVitie's chocolate digestive topping the list.[34]

In the UK, Kraft partnered with McDonald's to introduce the Oreo McFlurry (which was already on sale in several other countries, including the US) into McDonald's locations across the country during its annual Great Tastes of America promotions; in October 2015, the Oreo McFlurry then became a permanent menu item at McDonald's in the UK. An Oreo-flavored "Krushem" drink was also on sale in KFC stores across Britain.

The ingredients of the British Oreo (as listed on the UK Oreo website) are slightly different from those of the US Oreo. Unlike the US version, the British Oreo originally contained whey powder, which was not suitable for people with lactose intolerance. Additionally, as the whey powder was sourced from cheese made with calf rennet, the British version was also unsuitable for vegetarians.[35] On December 6, 2011, Kraft announced that production of Oreo was to start in the UK with their Cadbury Trebor Bassett factory in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, being selected to manufacture Oreo in Britain for the first time. Production began there in May 2013.[36]

Oreo cookies were introduced onto the Indian market by Cadbury India in 2011.[37] In Pakistan, Oreo is manufactured and sold by Continental Biscuits Limited under the LU brand.[38] In Japan, Oreo and other Nabisco products were produced by Yamazaki Baking until Mondelez terminated their licensing deal in favor of moving production to China.[39] A year later, Yamazaki introduced their version of Oreo called "Noir", which is produced at the former Oreo factory in Ibaraki Prefecture.[40]

Production

Most of the Oreo production was once carried out at the Hershey's factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania.[citation needed] By 2017, more than 40 billion Oreo cookies were being produced annually in 18 countries around the world.[2] Oreo cookies for the Asian markets are manufactured in India,[37] Indonesia, Bahrain, and China.[39] Oreo cookies for the European market are made in Spain and at the Cadbury factory in the UK;[36] they are made in Russia (Mondelēz Rus) for consumers in several CIS countries;[41] and those sold in Australia are manufactured in Indonesia, China or Bahrain, depending on the flavor. The version produced in Canada (sold under the Christie's brand) included coconut oil but as of 2023, the ingredient list included vegetable oil and modified palm oil, similar to the American cookies.[42] Manufacture of Oreo biscuits began in Pakistan in early 2014, in collaboration with Mondelez International of the United States and Continental Biscuits Limited (CBL) of Pakistan, at the CBL production plant in Sukkur.[38]

Oreo boycott

Main article: Oreo boycott

In 2015, Mondelez announced its decision to close some of its American factories and move production to Mexico, prompting the Oreo boycott.[43] In 2016, after production had started in Mexico, the AFL–CIO encouraged the boycott and published consumer guidance to help identify which Mondelez products were made in Mexico.[44]

Ingredients

The ingredients of Oreo cookies have remained largely unchanged from the original, although numerous alternative varieties and flavors have emerged over time. Oreo cookies were made with lard until the mid-1990s, when Nabisco swapped the animal fat with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Then in the mid-2000s Nabisco eliminated the partially hydrogenated oil from the ingredients, due to growing health concerns.[45] The classic Oreo cookie is made using eleven main ingredients:[46]

  1. Sugar
  2. Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mono-nitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid)
  3. High oleic canola oil or palm oil
  4. Cocoa (treated with alkali)
  5. High-fructose corn syrup
  6. Leavening agent (baking soda or monocalcium phosphate)
  7. Corn starch
  8. Salt
  9. Soy lecithin
  10. Vanillin
  11. Chocolate

Nutrition

One six-pack of Oreos contains 270 calories, hence there are 45 calories in one cookie. Of these 45 calories, 27 come from carbohydrates, 16.5 come from fat, and 1.5 calories are provided by protein.[47]

Different Oreo flavors have varying amounts of carbohydrate: the chocolate fudge Oreo contains 13 g of total carbohydrates (4% of the recommended daily intake) and 9 g of sugars per serving of 3 cookies, while mint Oreos contain 25 g of total carbohydrates and 18 g of sugars per serving. Oreos contain small amounts of proteins and minerals (iron and sodium are present) but they do not contain any vitamins.[48][49]

Varieties

Main article: List of Oreo varieties

Left to right: Oreo Mini, regular Oreo, and Double Stuf Oreo
Oreo Double Triples
Golden Oreo
The Most Stuf Oreo

In addition to their traditional design of two chocolate wafers separated by a crème filling, Oreo cookies have been produced in a multitude of different varieties since they were first introduced. This list is only a guide to some of the more notable and popular types; not all are available in every country. The main varieties in the United States are:

Special edition Double Stuf Oreo cookies are produced during springtime, and around Halloween and Christmas. These have colored frosting reflecting the current holiday: blue or yellow for springtime; orange for Halloween; and red or green for the Christmas holiday. One side of each seasonal cookie is stamped with an appropriate design; the spring cookies feature flowers, butterflies, etc., while the Halloween editions feature a jack o'lantern, ghost, cat, flock of bats, or broom-riding witch. The 2017 Halloween Oreo broke with this tradition, having orange-colored crème filling (albeit with classic vanilla flavor) but carrying no seasonal designs.

In some countries, Oreos come in a variety of flavors that are not familiar to the U.S. market. For example, Green Tea Oreos are only available in China and Japan, while Lemon Ice Oreos were only ever introduced in Japan or Blueberry Ice Cream available in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Additionally, there are alfajor Oreo cookies available in Argentina, composed of three Oreo cookies with vanilla filling between each, and covered in chocolate.

Limited editions

Peeps Oreo limited edition

Beginning in the early 2010s, Nabisco began releasing limited edition runs of cookies with more exotic flavors. These typically appear in stores for a short period only, before being discontinued, although some varieties have since resurfaced, for example: Reese's Oreos returned for a second limited run after they were first introduced for a limited period in 2014; and Birthday Cake Oreos, originally introduced in 2012, have since become permanently available.[57] Some limited editions are only made available at certain retailers.[58]

Limited-edition runs usually feature a crème filling that has been flavored to replicate the taste of a specific fruit or dessert, from familiar flavors such as lemon or mint, to the more specific and unusual flavors of blueberry pie or red velvet cake. They may also incorporate different varieties of cookie wafer, for example Cinnamon-Bun Oreos featured cinnamon-flavored wafers and "frosting-flavored crème". In recent years, some limited editions have paired Oreos with other recognizable confectionery brands, including Reese's, Swedish Fish, and Peeps.

Oreo's six-person team in charge of special flavors is extremely secretive; the company will not disclose even the group's name. The limited-edition flavors largely serve as advertising for Oreo's regular varieties.[59]

List of limited edition Oreo flavors
Name Release Description
Birthday Cake February 2012 – July 2012 Created to celebrate Oreo's 100th birthday.[59] Made up of two chocolate Oreo cookie wafers with a birthday cake–flavored crème filling and sprinkles inside. On one of the two wafers, the traditional design was replaced with a birthday candle and the words "OREO 100". The birthday cake flavor has since been reintroduced, with a "double stuf" amount of crème filling, in both chocolate and golden Oreo varieties, except that the cookies no longer display the "OREO 100" print.[60] Now permanently available.
Lemon Twist 2012–2013 A golden Oreo with a lemon-flavored crème filling.
Watermelon Summer 2013 A golden Oreo with watermelon-flavored crème filling. Largely unsuccessful.[61]
Strawberries n' Cream 2013 A golden Oreo with a crème filling consisting of two halves, one strawberry-flavored and one similar to traditional Oreo crème.
Fruit Punch 2014 A golden Oreo with fruit punch-flavored crème.
Cookie Dough March 2014 A chocolate Oreo with cookie dough–flavored crème filling.[62]
Root Beer Float July 2014 A golden Oreo filled with root beer–flavored crème.[59]
Pumpkin Spice September 2014 A golden Oreo with pumpkin spice–flavored crème filling.
Red Velvet February 2015 First released in February 2015, and since reintroduced. Two red Oreo cookie wafers with cream cheese-flavored crème filling. Designed to emulate the popular red velvet cake.
Key Lime Pie July 2015 Two graham-flavored Oreo cookie wafers filled with key lime-flavored crème filling.
Cinnamon Bun January 2016 Two cinnamon-flavored cookie wafers filled with frosting-flavored crème filling. Designed to emulate a cinnamon bun.
S'mores Summer 2016 Two graham-flavored cookie wafers with a double layer of crème filling, one layer chocolate-flavored and one layer marshmallow-flavored. Inspired by the traditional campfire snack.
Fruity Crisp June 2016 A golden Oreo with a fruity and colorful rice crisp crème filling, similar to Fruity Pebbles.
Blueberry Pie June 2016; 2017 Two graham-flavored cookie wafers with a blueberry-flavored crème filling.
Swedish Fish August 2016 A chocolate Oreo with a red crème filling, flavored to resemble the red-colored Swedish Fish candy. Originally released exclusively through Kroger stores in the United States.
Peeps February 2017; February 2018 Originally released for Easter 2017. A golden Oreo filled with pink "marshmallow Peeps"–flavored crème.[63] Second version, released in February 2018, made with Peeps-embossed chocolate Oreo cookie wafers and purple "marshmallow Peeps"–flavored crème filling.
Waffle and Syrup May 2017 A golden Oreo with a ring of vanilla crème filling and a blob of maple syrup–flavored crème in the center.[59] Exclusive to Albertsons stores in the United States.[64]
Chocolate Hazelnut January 2018 A golden Oreo with a "Nutella-like"-flavored crème filling.[65] Released January 1, 2018.
Salted Caramel 2018 A golden Oreo with a salted caramel flavor crème filling.
Firework Two classic Oreo cookie wafers with Pop Rocks candy within the crème.[66] Released around the Fourth of July in the United States.
Peppermint Bark October 2018 Two classic Oreo cookie wafers with "double stuf" amount of peppermint-flavored crème with red sugar crystals.
Easter Egg January 2019 A chocolate Oreo in an oval shape to resemble an egg, with purple-colored crème filling and four Easter-related designs on the wafer: a bunny in a basket, a baby chick wearing bunny ears, and spots and stripes to resemble the painting of an Easter egg.
Chocolate Marshmallow January 2020 Includes marshmallow pieces in the cookie wafers and chocolate marshmallow crème filling.[67]
Caramel Coconut January 2020 Caramel crème filling with coconut flavor and coconut pieces.[67]
Supreme March 2020 Double-stuf Oreos branded by Supreme.[59]
Oreo Thing Prints 1996 Two classic Oreo cookie wafers with the top wafer displaying one of ten designs featuring the Nabisco Thing, the company mascot from 1995 to 2000.
Lady Gaga January 2020 Salmon-colored cookie wafers with malachite-green filling; same flavor as a golden Oreo. Released to promote Lady Gaga's album Chromatica (2020).[59]
Strawberry Frosted Donut March 2021 A golden Oreo with two layers of crème filling, made up of one layer of glittery pink strawberry-flavored crème and one layer of donut-flavored crème.
Hot Chicken Wing Exclusive to China.[59]
Wasabi Exclusive to China.[59]
Crispy Tiramisù [59]
Carrot Cake [59]
Jelly Donut [59]
Mississippi Mud Pie [59]
Piña Colada Oreo Thins.[59]
Banana Split [59]
Peanut Butter and Jelly [59]
Mystery Churro-flavored.[59]
Team USA 2020 A chocolate Oreo with three layers ("Triple-Stuf") of filling, colored red, white, and blue.[59] Released to promote the United States Olympic Team.
Mint [61]
Reese's 2014
The Most Stuf 2019 Regular Oreos with four times the amount of crème filling.
Triple Double Chocolate Mint A chocolate Oreo with chocolate and mint crème filling.
Android Green crème filling. Promotional flavor with Google.
Coconut Delight Regular Oreos with coconut crème filling. Exclusive to Indonesia.
Strawberry Milkshake Strawberry crème filling. First introduced in Canada; later released in the United States.
Strawberry Available in Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Green Tea Available in China and Japan.
Lemon Ice Exclusive to Japan.
Orange Ice Cream 2011 Available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Oreo DQ Blizzard Creme April 2010 Promoted the 25th anniversary of the Dairy Queen Blizzard.
Oreo Trio Chocolate Exclusive to Mexico.
Oreo Pokémon 2021 (US)
2024 (Asia)
Promotion for the Pokémon franchise. One side of the wafer has one of sixteen Pokémon, including Pikachu and the rare Mew. Introduced in 2021 in the United States and 2024 in Asia.
Oreo Batman 2022 Promotion for 2022 film The Batman. Has a Batman face on the wafer. Available in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.
Oreo Blackpink 2022–2023 Pink-colored cookie wafers with dark chocolate crème filling. A special package is available with an exclusive photo card.

Promotion for the Korean girl group Blackpink. First available in Indonesia; later in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea.[68]

The Most Oreo Oreo 2023 Crème filling contains small bits of Oreo cookie wafer.[69]

Advertising campaigns

You Can Still Dunk in the Dark

When the lights went out during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, Oreo immediately parodied the event on social media with a "You Can Still Dunk in the Dark" post. The post earned 15,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes in just an hour.[70]

Oreo Daily Twist

Oreo Daily was a social media campaign celebrating Oreo's 100th birthday. Every day, from June 25 to October 2, Oreo posted ads of their cookies transformed into something new to celebrate national holidays, pop culture milestone, and key moments in American history. Some notable ads in the campaign honored the Mars rover landing, Elvis week, the invention of Pac-Man, and the release of The Dark Knight in theaters, all using reinvented Oreo cookies.[71]

Dunk Challenge

In 2017, NBA player Shaquille O'Neal starred in an Oreo commercial to promote their #OreoDunkSweepstakes. In the ad, O'Neal can be seen performing an acrobatic slam dunk of an Oreo cookie into a glass of milk. Fans could show off their own dunking abilities for the chance to win cool prizes.[72]

Global Oreo Vault

Main article: Global Oreo Vault

In October 2020, Nabisco announced on social media that it had created a small concrete bunker in Svalbard, Norway to preserve the Oreo recipe in the event that the 2018 VP1 asteroid impacted the Earth on November 2 or 3, 2020.[73][74][75]

Use of the word "oreo" as a slur

Oreo cookies, due to their almost-black cookies and white filling, have often been used in popular culture as a metaphor for relations between African Americans and White Americans.

Applied to a single person

The term "Oreo" has occasionally been used as a racial slur aimed at a person of mixed-race or African-American heritage who is accused of trying to act white.[76][77][78][79] The insult may be levied as an accusation that the person perpetuates the "un-level playing field for blacks", and is based on the implication that the person is like the cookie, "black on the outside and white on the inside".[80] For example, the protagonist of the 1974 novel, Oreo, was nicknamed Oreo because of a mixed Jewish-American and African-American heritage.[81] Former American president Barack Obama, due to his biracial heritage, has been compared to an Oreo by political pundits and television personalities such as John McLaughlin and Rush Limbaugh.[82][83]

In 2021, the chair of the Lamar County Democrats, Gary O'Connor, compared South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the United States Senate, to an Oreo after Scott gave the Republican response to Joe Biden's joint address to Congress. Amid fierce criticism, O'Connor apologized for his remarks and offered his resignation,[84] but the Lamar County Democrats chose not to accept his resignation and O'Connor wrote a public letter of apology for his remarks.[85]

Applied to three people

In the 1976 movie, A Star Is Born, Barbra Streisand's character Esther Hoffman is the white central member of The Oreos, a three-girl singing group, between black actresses Venetta Fields and Clydie King.[86]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Nabisco was a subsidiary of Kraft Foods until 2012 when the global snack division of Kraft Foods was rebranded as Mondelez International.[1]

Citations

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