Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Over 362 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since they were first introduced in 1912, making Oreo the best selling cookie of the 20th century. It is found on store shelves in the cookie aisle of super-markets, but it is also an important ingredient for ice creams, cheesecakes, pies, cakes, puddings, doughnuts and even the McDonald’s McFlurry, Dairy Queen’s Blizzard and the Domino’s Oreo Pizza. Oreos are even battered and deep fried at carnivals and county fairs.
But where did the Oreo get its moniker? A few years back, a TV-spot for the Got Milk? campaign showed a clever false etymology for the Oreo name. Some think Oreo comes from the Greek root for appetizing as in orexin or orexigenic (appetite stimulating) or anorexic (loss of appetite). There are other theories pointing to the origin of the name ‘Oreo’, including derivations from the French word ‘Or’, meaning gold (as early packaging was gold), or the Greek word ‘Oros’, meaning mountain or hill (as the original Oreo was mound shaped) or even the Greek word ‘Oreo’, meaning beautiful or nice. Wow, who would have thought that the Nabisco marketers would have gone back to Greek mythology for the name of something so all-American?
But as American as the Oreo is, it has also been introduced around the world. Oreo cookies were introduced to Chinese consumers in 1996 and sales gradually grew into the fast-growing Chinese biscuit. In 2006 the Oreo cookie became the best-selling biscuit in the People’s Republic of China, after altering its recipe to have a lower sugar content to suit local tastes. In 2004, Norway started selling Oreo cookies. It was welcomed by consumers, and is the top-selling cookie to young people. In 2005, the Norwegians stopped the importation of Oreos and started to make them in country.
In May 2008, Oreo cookies were repackaged and relaunched in the UK in the more popular British tube design with a multi-million pound advertising campaign centered on the catchphrase Twist, Lick and Dunk. Canadian Oreos contain coconut oil, giving them a different taste from the American counterpart. In 2011 Oreos hit Polish, Croatian and Indian markets.
Aside from good old regular cookies, Oreos have been produced in many different varieties since they were first introduced. This includes Mini, Double Stuf, Triple StufBerry Burst, Blizzard Crème, Golden (vanilla wafers), Fudgees, WaferStix, Chocolate Crème, Big Stuff, Double Delight, Cool Mint Creme, Peanut Butter Crème, Banana Split Crème, Fudge Covered, 100 Calorie Pack, Sugar-Free, Reduced Fat, Vend Pack and Dulce de Leche Oreos sold in Chile and Argentina. There are also special limited edition Halloween and Christmas Double Stuf Oreo cookies produced with colored frosting depicting the current holiday.
In 1990, comedian Weird Al” Yankovic wrote a tribute to the Oreo titled “The White Stuff,” a parody of the New Kids on the Block single ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)’. The song focuses on the virtues of the crème filling inside an Oreo. That same year songwriter Lonnie Mack wrote a song titled “Oreo Cookie Blues” from his album Strike Like Lightning. The song is focused on how much Lonnie loves his Oreo cookies. In 2010, country singer Abi Lester recorded “Flaming Red,” a song on her She Dreams album, in which she sings about eating a whole box of Oreos in bed.
While I don’t think I can out-write “Weird Al” or out-sing Abi, I don’t think either one can hold a candle to my Screaming-Easy Oreo Cookie Chocolate Truffles. The recipe uses Choclatique Chocolate Chips for coating a center filling made from, you guessed it, Oreo cookies.