It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another: to dunk or not to dunk our Oreos. But perhaps, the better question is how did they become America’s cookie? Let’s be honest those Keebler elves make their cookies look pretty delicious. But Oreos with a glass of milk have become the instant image that comes to mind when I think of milk and cookies.
Oreos were introduced by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) to the American public on March 6, 1912, in New York City. They were part of a planned release of three high-end varieties of biscuit. The oreo cookie contained two firm chocolate cookies with rich vanilla frosting inside.
The idea of them as a biscuit does explain the fancy design Oreos have. Although, there is something about calling them a biscuit that makes them sound less delicious somehow, but clearly the American public didn’t think so. Quickly, Oreos became popular among Americans and the other two biscuit varieties disappeared. Leaving them to become America’s favorite cookie. (Or I guess biscuit at this juncture)
However, Oreos weren’t the first introduction of this kind of cookie. Hydrox Cookies made by Sunshine debuted in 1908. The Hydrox cookie was made using firmer cookies with a tangy flavor and less sweet filling so they didn’t get soggy when dipped (A point that makes sense when considered they were designed as a type of biscuit). Though their flavor didn’t seem to appeal to the public and because of this, they became second to Oreos and considered a knockoff, even though they were the original creator of the idea.
Originally called Oreo Biscuits, the name became Oreo Sandwich in 1921 and finally Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1948. It is unclear where the name came from. Some say it was a combination of the letters of chocolate and cream, others say from the French word for gold since the original packaging was gold colored, and still others argue from the Greek word for mountains since the prototype was a hill-shaped cookie. Of course, some just say it was an easy name to say.
Whatever the inspiration for the name was, it clearly worked as coupled with the simple product it has for over 100 years cemented itself as America’s cookie and caught on in many other countries across the world.
In the 1920s, they experimented and created a lemon-flavored cookie, but the traditional style was favored. That experiment started a tradition that carried on with Oreo cookies to this day where we have had so many unique varieties. Double-stuff debuted in 1975, in 1987 fudge-covered Oreos, in 1991 and 1995 we were introduced to holiday themed Oreos with Halloween and Christmas themes respectively.
Today we have so many kinds of Oreos it’s fantastic. Some of these themes are limited-time offers and others have become fan favorites and have stuck around. (Peanut Butter Oreos are my personal favorite) Regardless, Oreos have shown a penchant for unique flavors, which perhaps is what made them an American favorite. It is important to note, through all these unique varieties the traditional design of Oreos has remained since 1952, except for the special holiday themed cookies.
Oreos are so important to American culture now that Ninth Avenue where the original factory resided in New York City is now called Oreo Way. And just as a fun fact, there is research that posits the way you eat your Oreos can be a predictor of your personality. If you dunk your cookies, you tend to be more adventurous and social, meanwhile, twisters tend to be more creative.
So what’s your favorite way to eat Oreos?
On a sidenote: I’d love to do more posts like this looking into questions perhaps we’ve always wondered about. Awhile back I started a themed post Questions & Answers Edition and I want to bring it back but this is where I need your help. Please take a moment to comment on this post with any ideas of something you may want covered and I hope I can answer it!