The Oreo celebrates its 100th birthday

If you think junk food is a modern invention, you're wrong.

Oreos will celebrate their 100th birthday on Tuesday.

Turns out they were far more unsinkable than one of their contemporaries, the Titanic. The ship sank in 1912, the same year the Oreo was first made.

It was born the "Oreo Biscuit," produced by National Biscuit Company, later known as Nabisco. In 1921, the name changed to "Oreo Sandwich." Since 1937, it has been called the "Oreo Creme Sandwich," although us regular folks usually call it the Oreo cookie.

Originally, Oreos were packaged in bulk tins sold by weight; grocers paid 30 cents a pound for the first ones.

Now Oreos are sold in more than 100 countries. They're the top-selling cookie in the world, with $1.5 billion in worldwide revenues.

After the United States, the most Oreos are sold in China (where one variety has green tea ice cream-flavored filling), Venezuela, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico. Last year, the cookie entered three new markets: Poland, Germany and India.

China also sells Oreos with raspberry-blueberry or orange-mango filling. Indonesia has strawberry, blueberry or orange filling. Mexico has "Oreo Trio Chocolate" -- three different kinds of chocolate in each Oreo (one each in the two cookies and a third in the filling). A limited-edition Birthday Cake Oreo featuring colored sprinkles in a vanilla cake-flavored creme (think funfetti) debuted last week, and will be on store shelves through April.

Basil Maglaris, associate director of corporate affairs for Kraft Foods, said one of his favorites is a three-layered Oreo covered with fudge, sold individually wrapped in Argentina.

Oreos didn't change much in their first six decades or so. There was a short-lived lemon creme variety in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1970s that Oreo variations began to proliferate. Modifications sold in the U.S. have included Double Stuf, mint creme, fudge and white fudge coating, vanilla Oreos, holiday frosting colors and more. "Cookies 'n' Cream" ice cream debuted in 1983.

The recipe for the traditional Oreo hasn't changed much over the century, but the design has. The original design had a narrow wreath around the outside with "OREO" on a plain surface; today's embossment, which dates back to 1953, is crammed with flowers all around the "OREO" letters. As Mr. Maglaris notes, the more crevices, the better milk clings to the cookie.

Which brings up an important point: How do you eat your Oreos?

We know milk dunkers, coffee dunkers and purists who would never permit a soggy Oreo to pass their lips. Kraft, which owns the Nabisco line, markets the cookies by touting the "Twist, Lick, Dunk Ritual" -- in fact, the "Twist" first appeared all the way back in 1923 on trolley car ads -- but only about half of Oreo eaters pull their Oreos apart before eating. And some puller-aparters don't lick out the frosting once they do get the cookies apart.

Some people play with their frosting before eating, carving shapes or letters into it or molding it with their fingers. You can go to the Oreo Facebook page (one of the top five Facebook brand pages in the world) to see pictures of goofy designs people have made in their frosting.

And you thought Mom told you never to play with your food.

Well, this will come as no surprise to Mom: Everybody's been ignoring her for 100 years.

Slutty Brownies

PG tested

One of my friends noted -- groused, actually -- that weird Oreo recipes have been proliferating on Pinterest lately: monster-size chocolate chip cookies with Oreos inside them, deep-fried Oreos, Oreo doughnuts (an Oreo fills the doughnut's hole), Oreo martinis, Oreo muffins (chunks of Oreos in place of, say, blueberries), Oreo pancakes. This is one of the weirdos -- definitely for the serious junk food junkie.

-- Rebecca Sodergren

For the brownie layer
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the Oreo layer
  • About 16 to 20 Oreos
For the cookie dough layer
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the brownie layer

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder; whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are incorporated. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.

For the cookie dough layer

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line bottom of a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with foil, then spray foil with baking spray.

Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of prepared pan, pressing down to form the bottom layer.

Place a single layer of Oreos, touching but not overlapping, on top of the cookie dough layer.

Pour the brownie batter over the Oreo layer. Spread with rubber spatula to even it out.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter on it, bake the brownies about 5 minutes more.


Rebecca Sodergren: .


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