13 things you didn't know about Oreo cookies

Business Insider US
There's a lot you don't know about these cream-filled cookies.
Wikipedia Commons
  • Oreo cookies have been around for decades
  • Oreo first appeared on the market in 1912.
  • The cookies are vegan and kosher.

You may know Oreo as a delicious cookie with two wafers and a creamy centre. But aside from that, you've probably never given much more thought to them. It's just a cookie, after all. Except that it's not just any cookie. It's one of the most popular cookies in the world and has been for many years.

The history of Oreo started with a fallout between two brothers, and even today multiple mysteries surround the cookies, like where the name comes from and exactly what color they are.

Here are some things you may not know about this famous treat.

Oreo first appeared on the market in 1912.

Oreo cookies were first manufactured in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) and were released as part of a trio of "highest class biscuits" that included Mother Goose Biscuit and Veronese Biscuits, according to Gizmodo. The latter two are long gone, but Oreo was able to stand the test of time.

The plural of Oreo is Oreo … probably.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There's no official statement on the matter, but it would appear that the plural of Oreo is Oreo. The Oreo and Mondelez websites, as well as all of Oreo's social media profiles use "Oreo cookies" when they need to reference more than one cookie. They also maintain the all caps style when referring to Oreo, similar to what's on the packaging.

The cookies have a long history that includes two feuding brothers and biscuit companies.

Brothers Jacob and Joseph Loose had different ideas about what the future should hold for their corporation, the American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company, according to Serious Eats.

Jacob, who had been president of the company, found himself out of the job due to illness in 1897, and Joseph used that opportunity to make moves of his own. He joined forces with their competitors, New York Biscuit Company and the United States Baking Company, to form National Biscuit Company (Nabisco).

Jacob recovered and decided to form his own company with John Wiles called the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, but always fell short of Nabisco's success.

No one knows where the name "Oreo" came from, but there are theories.

Because Nabisco has never revealed a meaning behind the name, people have come up with some theories of their own.

Some think the word "Oreo" represents the cookie itself, with the two "O's" as the wafers and the "RE" as the cream, according to Serious Eats. The original packaging was gold, so one theory is that it comes from the word "or," which is the French word for "gold." Another points to a class of appetite stimulants called orexigenics as the source of name. My favourite theory is that the word comes from "Oreodaphne," which is the genus of flower found on Hydrox cookies.

There's a very specific cookie to cream ratio.

Every Oreo cookie, aside from Double Stuf, Mini Oreos, Mega Stuf, and Oreo Thins, is exactly 71% cookie and 29% cream. Although, as a very inquisitive math class found out, Double Stuf actually equated to about 1.86 times the amount of cream of a regular Oreo and Mega Stuf holds about 2.68 times the amount, according to CNN.

They've gone through a lot of advertising changes.

Long before they were known as "Milk's Favorite Cookie," Oreo tried out quite a few slogans. In 1950, "Oh! Oh! Oreo" became their first slogan and jingle. The '80s feel like a time of indecision for the company, who changed slogans five times in the span of 10 years. Those included "For the Kid in All of Us," "America's Best Loved Cookie," "The One and Only," "Who's the Kid with the Oreo Cookie?," and "Oreo, the Original Twister." The latter stuck around until their most recent change in 2004 to "Milk's Favorite Cookie."

There's an entire song written about Oreo cookies.

In 1992, Weird Al Yankovic released his album "Off the Deep End," which included a song dedicated to Oreo. A parody of the song "The Right Stuff" by New Kids on the Block, "The White Stuff" was a tribute to the cookie and it's creamy centre. In it, he croons that "Twinkies and Ding Dongs" just won't do, because Oreo cookies are all he really needs.

The first new Oreo flavour to be added to the cookie's line-up was lemon cream.

It might surprise you to know there was a time when you couldn't get an Oreo in pretty much every flavour imaginable, but that time was very real.

The first flavour they added to the brand was a lemon-filled Oreo, but it was soon discontinued, according to Biscuit People. It wasn't until the 2000s when the company began releasing numerous limited edition and holiday-themed flavours every year.

Nancy Meyers came up with the iconic OREO and peanut butter snack in "The Parent Trap".

In the 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap," Lindsay Lohan's characters Hallie Parker and Annie James introduced us to the concept of Oreo cookies and peanut butter. What should have been such an obvious combination, blew the minds of '90s kids everywhere, so much so that Nancy Meyers is still getting asked about it. Meyers revealed to HelloGiggles that she just made it up "for no reason other than it sounded weird and some cute kid would do it".

They're the best-selling cookie in the world.

Not only is Oreo the best selling cookie in the world with over $2 billion (R28 bilion) in annual sales, but it has increased its parent company Mondelez's net revenue by 2.1%. The brand also has a massive social media presence and consistently proves itself to be a brand that understands the medium.

You can walk down OREO Way in New York City.

Oreo got its start at the Nabisco headquarters in New York City. And although Google has since purchased the building, Oreo has definitely left a mark on the area.

In 2002, an entire stretch of ninth avenue in New York, where the building stands, was renamed "Oreo Way" to commemorate the cookie and its impact on the country, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

The cookies are vegan and kosher.

Oreo cookies are technically vegan, according to Delish. The ingredients are fairly simple and include sugar, flour, oil, cocoa, high fructose corn syrup, leavening, cornstarch, salt, soy lecithin, vanillin, and chocolate.

They are "technically vegan" because although there are no animal ingredients on the list, the company is careful to warn that cross-contamination with dairy products is possible. The cookies have also been kosher since 1997 when lard was removed from the ingredient list, according to Cornell.

The wafers could be black or brown. You decide.

The chocolate wafers on an Oreo cookie are either dark brown or black depending on who you ask. The official answer is that there is no answer.

On the Oreo FAQ page, Mondelez provides the following response to questions about the cookie's color: "We do not have a color assigned to the cookie portion of an Oreo. Some people think the Oreo is a shade of brown, while others view the color closer to black."

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