Oreo is an American sandwich cookie consisting of two (usually chocolate) wafers with a sweet crème filling. Introduced in 1912, Oreo is the best selling cookie brand in the United States. As of 2018, the version sold in the U.S. is made by the Nabisco division of Mondelez International.
Oreo cookies are available in over one hundred countries. Many varieties of Oreo cookies have been produced, and limited-edition runs have become popular in the 21st century.
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 current-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.
Nabisco began a marketing campaign in 2008, advertising the use of Oreo cookies in an online game called DSRL (which stands for "Double Stuf Racing League"), introduced the week before Super Bowl XLII. DSRL had been endorsed by football brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning; the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, also joined, challenging the Mannings to a race that was aired in an advertisement on January 18, 2009. Another campaign was launched for Golden Double Stuf Oreo cookies, in which the Manning brothers were challenged by Donald Trump and a character called "Double Trump", played by Darrell Hammond; this competition aired on January 24, 2010. The Mannings won both races. Another advertisement featured a "Hooded Menace" threatening to take over the DSRL, with Eli Manning and Stufy (the DSRL mascot) needing some help, which aired on September 14, 2010. Six days later, it was announced that Shaquille O'Neal and Apolo Ohno had joined Oreo's DSRL veterans Eli Manning and Venus Williams.
The 2012 rainbow Oreo advertisement supporting Pride month
In April 2011, Oreo announced its special edition Oreo cookies with blue crème to promote the 2011 3D computer-animated movie Rio. The promotion included stickers inside each package of cookies. Two contests were also announced: by completing an album of stickers, consumers could win three movie passes and medium snack bar combos; and prize stickers could be found in winning packages, including a trip to Rio de Janeiro, backpacks, cinema passes for a year, and 3D glasses. The promotion was available in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, and ended on May 30, 2011.
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 Aquariidsmeteor shower, and a cookie with a jagged bite taken out of it to promote Shark Week on The 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 different 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 store 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) 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.
Oreo cookies were introduced onto the Indian market by Cadbury India in 2011. The biscuit industry in India is estimated to be worth around 1.8 billion dollars.
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 different 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 (Mondel?z 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 Mondel?z International of the United States and Continental Biscuits Limited (CBL) of Pakistan, at the CBL production plant in Sukkur.
In 2015, Mondel?z 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 Mondel?z 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:
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.
Different Oreo flavors have varying amounts of carbohydrate: the chocolate fudge Oreo contains 13g of total carbohydrates (4% of the recommended daily intake) and 9g of sugars per serving of 3 cookies, while mint Oreos contain 25g of total carbohydrates and 18g of sugars per serving. Oreos contain small amounts of proteins and minerals (iron and sodium are present) but they do not contain any vitamins.
Double Stuf Oreos
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. After testing whether Double Stuf Oreos really had double the amount of cream, a math teacher found that Doubled Stuf Oreos only had 1.86 times the amount of cream of normal Oreos. Available with various different 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.
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, and 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. Additionally, there are alfajor Oreo cookies available in Argentina, composed of three Oreo cookies with vanilla filling between each, and covered in chocolate.
Close-up view of a golden Oreo cookie wafer
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.
Some examples of limited edition Oreos are:
Birthday Cake Oreo - A limited edition, available from February to July 2012, 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.
Lemon Twist Oreo - First released in 2012 as a limited edition, reintroduced in 2013, made up of two golden Oreo cookies with a lemon flavored crème filling.
Neapolitan Oreo - Released for a limited time in 2012, consisting of three golden Oreo cookies with a double sandwich of chocolate and strawberry crème fillings. This version was reminiscent of Neapolitan ice cream.
Watermelon Oreo - Released as a limited edition for the summer of 2013, made up of two golden Oreo cookies with watermelon flavored crème filling.
Strawberries n' Creme Oreo - A limited edition released in 2013, made up of two golden Oreo cookies with a crème filling consisting of two halves, one strawberry flavored and one similar to traditional Oreo crème.
Fruit Punch Oreo - Released for a limited time in 2014, featuring golden Oreo cookies filled with fruit punch flavored crème.
Cookie Dough Oreo - Released in March 2014, a limited edition featuring chocolate cookies with cookie dough flavored crème filling.
Root Beer Float Oreo - A limited edition released in July 2014, made up of two gold Oreo cookies filled with root beer flavored crème.
Pumpkin Spice Oreo - A limited edition released in September 2014, made up of two gold Oreo cookies with pumpkin spice flavored crème filling.
Red Velvet Oreo - First released in February 2015 as a limited edition, since reintroduced, featuring red Oreo cookies with cream cheese flavored crème filling. This version was designed to emulate the popular red velvet cake.
Key Lime Pie Oreo - A limited edition released in July 2015, made of two graham flavored Oreo cookies filled with key lime flavored crème filling.
Cinnamon Bun Oreo - Released in January 2016 as a limited edition, made up of two cinnamon flavored cookies filled with frosting flavored crème filling. This version was designed to emulate the cinnamon bun.
S'mores Oreo - Inspired by the traditional campfire snack and released as a limited edition in summer 2016, this version was made with graham flavored cookies and a double layer of crème filling, one layer chocolate flavored and one layer marshmallow flavored.
Fruity Crisp Oreo - A limited edition released in June 2016, consisting of two golden Oreo cookies with a fruity and colorful rice crisp crème filling, similar to Fruity Pebbles.
Blueberry Pie Oreo - Also released in June 2016 as a limited edition, and then reintroduced in 2017, made with graham flavored cookie wafers and a blueberry flavored crème filling.
Swedish Fish Oreo - Released as a limited edition in August 2016, made up of two chocolate Oreo cookies with a red crème filling, flavored to resemble the red-colored Swedish Fish candy. These were originally released exclusively through Kroger stores (in the U.S.)
Peeps Oreo - A limited edition released in February 2017 for the Easter season, consisting of two golden Oreo cookies filled with pink "marshmallow Peeps" flavored crème". A second version was released in February 2018, instead made with Peeps-embossed chocolate cookies and purple "marshmallow Peeps" flavored crème filling.
Waffles & Syrup Oreo - A limited edition released in May 2017, made with golden Oreo cookies and featuring a ring of vanilla crème with a blob of maple syrup flavored crème in the center. Exclusive to Albertsons stores (in the U.S.)
Chocolate Hazelnut Oreo - Released as a limited edition on January 1, 2018, consisting of golden Oreo cookies with a "Nutella-like" flavored crème filling.
Salted Caramel Oreo - Released as a limited edition in 2018, consisting of golden Oreo cookies with a salted caramel flavor crème filling.
Firework Oreo - Released around the Fourth of July in the United States, consisting of classic Oreo cookies with Pop Rocks candy within the crème.
Peppermint Bark Oreo - Released as a limited edition in October 2018 (for the 2018 holiday season), consisting of a "double stuf" amount of peppermint flavored crème with red sugar crystals and the original chocolate Oreo cookies.
Easter Egg Oreo - Released as a limited edition in January 2019 (for the Easter season), consisting of chocolate Oreo cookies in an oval shape to resemble eggs, with purple-colored crème filling and four different 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 - Released in January 2020, includes marshmallow pieces in the cookie and chocolate marshmallow crème filling.
Caramel Coconut - Released in January 2020, has caramel crème filling with coconut flavor and coconut pieces.
Supreme Oreo- Released in March 2020, double stuffed Oreo branded by Supreme.
Oreo Thing Prints - Released in 1996, regular Oreo cookies with the top wafer displaying one of ten different designs featuring the Nabisco Thing, the company mascot from 1995 to 2000.
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 are 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.
^Toops, Diane (July 1, 2005). "Top 10 Food Brands of 2005". www.foodprocessing.com. Retrieved 2012. In the enviable position of being the No. 1 selling cookie in America since its introduction in 1912, the Oreo, made by Nabisco, East Hanover, N.J., a brand of Kraft Foods, was a true innovation - two chocolate disks with a crème filling in between.