Oreo (//) is an American sandwich cookie consisting of two (usually chocolate) wafers or biscuits with a sweet crème filling. Introduced on March 6, 1912, Oreo is the best-selling cookie brand in the United States. The Oreo cookie in the twenty-first century became the number one selling cookie globally. As of 2018, the version sold in the U.S. is made by the Nabisco division of Mondelez International.
|Product type||Sandwich cookie|
|Owner||Mondelez International |
|Introduced||March 6, 1912|
"Milk's favorite cookie"
The origin of the name "Oreo" is unknown, but there are many hypotheses, including derivations from the French word or, meaning 'gold', or from an Ancient Greek root meaning 'mountain'. Others believe that the cookie was named Oreo simply because the name was short and easy to pronounce. Another theory, proposed by 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).
The "Oreo Biscuit" was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) in 1912 at its Chelsea, New York City factory in the present-day Chelsea Market complex, located on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. Today, this same block of Ninth Avenue is known as "Oreo Way". The name Oreo was trademarked on March 14, 1912. It was launched as an imitation of the Hydrox cookie manufactured by Sunshine company, which was introduced in 1908.
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. In the United States, they were sold for 25 cents 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.
The Oreo Biscuit was renamed in 1921 to "Oreo Sandwich"; in 1948, the name was changed to "Oreo Crème Sandwich"; and in 1974 it became the "Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie", the name that has remained to this day. A new design for the face of the cookie was launched in 1924; the modern-day Oreo design was developed in 1952 by William A. Turnier, 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 and the original flavor was the only version available for the next several decades.
The modern Oreo cookie filling was developed by Nabisco's principal food scientist, Sam Porcello, who retired from Nabisco in 1993. Porcello held five patents directly related to his work on the Oreo; he also created a range of Oreo cookies that were covered in dark chocolate and white chocolate. In the early 1990s, health concerns prompted Nabisco to replace the lard in the crème filling with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Oreo cookies are popular with people that have certain dietary restrictions, such as vegans, as the crème filling does not use any animal products. 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.co.uk website, on the question of whether Oreo cookies are suitable for vegans, their response is "No, OREO have milk as cross contact and therefore they are not suitable for vegans."
In June 2012, Oreo posted an advertisement displaying an Oreo cookie with rainbow-colored crème to celebrate LGBT Pride month; the cookie itself was fictional and was not being manufactured or made available for sale. The advertisement prompted some negative comments, 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." 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.
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". 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.
Oreo biscuits (as they are known in the United Kingdom) 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. It was repackaged in the more familiar British tube design, accompanied by a £4.5M television advertising campaign based around the "twist, lick, dunk" catchphrase.
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 a number of McDonald's locations during its annual Great Tastes of America promotions; in October 2015, the Oreo McFlurry 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 biscuit (as listed on the UK Oreo website) are slightly different from those of the US Oreo cookie. 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. On December 6, 2011, Kraft announced that production of Oreo biscuits was to start in the UK—their Cadbury factory in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, was selected to manufacture Oreo biscuits in Britain for the first time and production began there in May 2013.
In Pakistan, Oreo is manufactured and sold by Lefèvre-Utile, also known as LU.
According to a statement from Kim McMiller, an Associate Director of Consumer Relations, a two-stage process is used to produce Oreo cookies. The base cake dough is formed into the familiar round cookies by a rotary mold at the entrance of a 300-foot-long (91 m) oven.
Most of the Oreo production was once carried out at the Hershey's factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania. By 2017, more than 40 billion Oreo cookies were being produced annually in 18 countries around the world. Oreo cookies for the Asian markets are manufactured in India, Indonesia, and China, with the exception of the Japanese market where they are manufactured locally under the brand "Yamazaki-Nabisco". Oreo cookies for the European market are made in Spain; they are made in Russia (Mondelēz Rus) for consumers in several CIS countries; and those sold in Australia are manufactured in Indonesia (previously China) or Spain, depending on the flavor. The version produced in Canada (sold under the Christie's brand) includes coconut oil and is sold exclusively in that region. 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.
In 2015, Mondelez announced its decision to close some of its American factories and move production to Mexico, prompting the Oreo boycott. 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.
In July 2016, Oreo cookies ceased production in Chicago.
The ingredients of Oreo cookies have remained largely unchanged from the original, although numerous alternative varieties and flavors have emerged over time. The classic Oreo cookie is made using eleven main ingredients:
- Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mono-nitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid)
- High oleic canola oil or palm oil
- Cocoa (treated with alkali)
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Leavening agent (baking soda or monocalcium phosphate)
- Corn starch
- Soy lecithin
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.
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:
- Double Stuf Oreo – Introduced in 1974, this variety has about double the normal amount of crème filling as the original. (A math teacher found that Doubled Stuf Oreos only had 1.86 times the amount of cream of normal Oreos.) Available with various flavors of crème filling: original, chocolate, peanut butter, cool mint, and birthday cake. In the UK these are called Double Creme Oreos and are only available in original flavor. The Golden Double Stuf Oreo, featuring golden Oreo wafers with a double portion of original vanilla-flavored crème, was introduced in 2009.
- Football Oreo – (American/Canadian) Football-shaped Oreo cookies, introduced in 1976.
- Big Stuf Oreo – A short-lived variety of the Oreo cookie, introduced in 1987 but discontinued in 1991, these were several times the size of a normal Oreo. Sold individually, each Big Stuf contained 250 calories (1,000 kJ) and 13 grams of fat.
- Golden Oreo – First released in 2004, this has "golden" vanilla-flavored wafers on the outside of the cookie, as an alternative to the original chocolate-flavored wafers. Available with various flavors of crème filling including original, chocolate, lemon and birthday cake. The chocolate crème variety, being the reverse of the original cookie, was known as the Uh-Oh Oreo until 2007.
- Oreo Mini – First introduced in 1991, these are miniature bite-sized versions of the original Oreo cookie. After being discontinued in the late 1990s, they were re-released in 2000 along with the redesigned 2001 Dodge Caravan minivan as part of a promotional tie-in with Daimler AG. Their packaging in the 1990s consisted of a "miniaturized" version of the full-sized cardboard tray and box used in Oreo packaging at the time. Their revised packaging consists of an aluminum foil bag. Oreo Minis are available with various flavors of crème filling including original, chocolate, strawberry, and the new mint flavor which debuted in 2015. As well as the bagged version, they are also sold in Nabisco To-Go Cups, lidded plastic cups which fit into car cup-holders (in line with other Nabisco snacks that come in miniature form, such as Nutter Butters). A Golden Oreo Mini was also made available after the Golden Oreo was released in 2004. According to the Oreo website, the slogan of the Oreo Mini is "Grab 'em. Pop 'em. Love 'em."
- Mega Stuf Oreo – Released in February 2013, the Mega Stuf variety is similar to Double Stuf, but with even more white crème filling. They come in both chocolate and golden wafer varieties.
- Oreo Thins – Introduced in July 2015, this is a thin version of the original Oreo cookie. Thins come in both chocolate and golden wafer varieties, with various crème filling flavors including chocolate, mint, lemon and tiramisu. Each cookie contains only 40 calories; they are 66% thinner than the original version.
- Chocolate Oreo – Simply an Oreo cookie with chocolate crème filling instead of the original vanilla-flavored white crème filling.
- Mint Oreo – A variety of Oreo with two chocolate wafers separated by a mint-flavored crème filling.
- The Most Stuf – Introduced in January 2019, a limited edition Oreo with approximately four times the amount of crème filling of a standard Oreo.
- Gluten Free – Introduced in January 2021, comes in both traditional and Double Stuf varieties
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, and Thailand. Additionally, there are alfajor Oreo cookies available in Argentina, composed of three Oreo cookies with vanilla filling between each, and covered in chocolate.
Beginning in the early 2010s, Nabisco began releasing limited edition runs of cookies with more exotic flavors. These "limited editions" typically appear in stores for a short period and are then 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. Some limited editions are only made available at certain retailers.
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 cookies 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.
|Birthday Cake||February 2012 – July 2012||Created to celebrate Oreo's 100th birthday. Made up of two chocolate Oreo cookies with a birthday cake-flavored crème filling and sprinkles inside. On one of the two cookies, 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. Now permanently available.|
|Lemon Twist||2012–2013||Two golden Oreo cookies with a lemon-flavored crème filling.|
|Neapolitan||2012||Three golden Oreo cookies with a double sandwich of chocolate and strawberry crème fillings; reminiscent of Neapolitan ice cream.|
|Watermelon||Summer 2013||Two golden Oreo cookies with watermelon-flavored crème filling. Largely unsuccessful.|
|Strawberries n' Cream||2013||Two golden Oreo cookies with a crème filling consisting of two halves, one strawberry-flavored and one similar to traditional Oreo crème.|
|Fruit Punch||2014||Two golden Oreo cookies with fruit punch-flavored crème.|
|Cookie Dough||March 2014||Two chocolate cookies with cookie dough-flavored crème filling.|
|Root Beer Float||July 2014||Two gold Oreo cookies filled with root beer-flavored crème.|
|Pumpkin Spice||September 2014||Two gold Oreo cookies with pumpkin spice-flavored crème filling.|
|Red Velvet||February 2015||First released in February 2015 and since reintroduced. Two red Oreo cookies with cream cheese-flavored crème filling. Designed to emulate the popular red velvet cake.|
|Key Lime Pie||July 2015||Two graham-flavored Oreo cookies filled with key lime-flavored crème filling.|
|Cinnamon Bun||January 2016||Two cinnamon-flavored cookies filled with frosting-flavored crème filling. Designed to emulate a cinnamon bun.|
|S'mores||Summer 2016||Two graham-flavored cookies and 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||Two golden Oreo cookies with a fruity and colorful rice crisp crème filling, similar to Fruity Pebbles.|
|Blueberry Pie||June 2016; 2017||Two graham-flavored cookies and a blueberry-flavored crème filling.|
|Swedish Fish||August 2016||Two chocolate Oreo cookies 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||For Easter. Two golden cookies filled with pink "marshmallow Peeps"-flavored crème". Second version, released in February 2018, made with Peeps-embossed chocolate cookies and purple "marshmallow Peeps"-flavored crème filling.|
|Waffle and Syrup||May 2017||Two golden Oreo cookies with a ring of vanilla crème with a blob of maple syrup-flavored crème in the center. Exclusive to Albertsons stores in the United States.|
|Chocolate Hazelnut||January 2018||Two golden Oreo cookies with a "Nutella-like"-flavored crème filling. Released January 1, 2018.|
|Salted Caramel||2018||Two golden Oreo cookies with a salted caramel flavor crème filling.|
|Firework||Two classic Oreo cookies with Pop Rocks candy within the crème. Released around the Fourth of July in the United States.|
|Peppermint Bark||October 2018||Two classic Oreo cookies with "double stuf" amount of peppermint-flavored crème with red sugar crystals.|
|Easter Egg||January 2019||Two chocolate Oreo cookies in an oval shape to resemble eggs, with purple-colored crème filling and four Easter-related designs: 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 cookies and chocolate marshmallow crème filling.|
|Caramel Coconut||January 2020||Caramel crème filling with coconut flavor and coconut pieces.|
|Supreme||March 2020||Double-stuf Oreos branded by Supreme.|
|Oreo Thing Prints||1996||Regular Oreo cookies 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 with malachite-green filling; same flavor as Golden Oreos. Released to promote Lady Gaga's album Chromatica (2020).|
|Strawberry Frosted Donut||March 2021||This limited edition flavor features two golden Oreo cookies with two layers of crème filling. It is made up of one layer of glittery pink strawberry-flavored crème and one layer of donut-flavored crème.|
|Hot Chicken Wing||Exclusive to China.|
|Wasabi||Exclusive to China.|
|Mississippi Mud Pie||Exclusive to Dollar General in the United States.|
|Piña Colada||Oreo Thins.|
|Peanut Butter and Jelly|
|Team USA||2020||Chocolate cookies with three layers ("Triple-Stuf") of filling, colored red, white, and blue. Released to promote the United States Olympic Team.|
|The Most Stuf||2019||Regular Oreos with four times the amount of filling.|
|Triple Double Chocolate Mint||Chocolate cookies with chocolate and mint creme.|
|Android||Green creme. Promotional flavor with Google.|
|Coconut Delight||Regular cookies with coconut creme. Exclusive to Indonesia.|
|Strawberry Milkshake||Strawberry creme. 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.|
- Ice cream cake
- Menchie's frozen yogurth
- Oreo cake
- Oreo chocolate
- Oreo-bingsu (shaved ice)
Use of "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 people of color and white 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.
The term "Oreo" has also been used as a disparaging and offensive racial slur to a person of mixed-race or African-American heritage who is accused of trying to act white. 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". The 1974 novel Oreo, for example, was about a protagonist nicknamed Oreo due to her mixed Jewish-American and African-American heritage. Political pundits and television personalities such as John McLaughlin and Rush Limbaugh have also compared former American president Barack Obama to an Oreo due to his bi-racial heritage. The chair of the Lamar County, Texas Democratic Party Gary O'Connor had also 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 President Biden's joint address to Congress. O'Connor, amid fierce criticism, apologized for his remarks and resigned from his position.
- Cookies and cream
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