The creamy, crunchy cookie we all know resulted from a feud between two rival food companies. The Oreo was invented by Chelsea-based National Biscuit Company, also known as Nabisco.
The company first introduced the Oreo on April 2, 1912, as an imitation of another cookie and to steal market share away from Barnum’s popular Animal Cookies. The original cookie consisted of two chocolate cookies with a vanilla creme in the middle and were sold for ~25-30 cents a pound. In 1921, Oreo Biscuit was renamed “Oreo Sandwich,” which was later renamed in 1948 to “Oreo Creme Sandwich,” and renamed again in 1974 as the “Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie.” The original design of the cookie included Nabisco’s logo and was designed by William A Turnier.
Why is it Called Oreo?
The brand name Oreo has long been under speculation by namers and cookie lovers, however, one theory stands as the most substantiated. In 1908, four years before the Oreo was introduced, Sunshine Biscuits debuted a creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie called Hydrox (derived from hydrogen and oxygen), which was a little less sugary and a little more crispy than an Oreo. But at a quick glance, the two looked the same.
The Hydrox cookie featured a mountain laurel on the top of the cookie, which in Latin, means Oreodaphne. While this name is a clear rip-off of the Hydrox cookie, this isn’t all that surprising when you look at the other plant-related cookie names that Nabisco sold at the time: Lotus, Helicion, Zaytona and Zephyrette all had roots in the botanical sciences, representing plays on different genres of flowers. Sunshine Biscuits was later sold to popular cookie and cracker manufacture, Keebler in 1996. Keebler reformulated the product and reintroduced”Droxies.”In 2001, Kellogg’s bought Keebler Droxies and Hydrox brands and shortly after discontinued them.
More Naming Theories
In his book, From Altoids to Zima, Evan Morris writes that oreo is Greek for “mountain” and that the name was chosen because early versions of the cookie were dome-shaped. “Or maybe Oreo was just easy to say and remember,” Morris explains. Think of those symmetric O’s, so reminiscent of the twin cookie disks.
Others have different conspiracies about the origin of the cookie’s name. One theory posits that Oreo comes from the French word “or,” meaning gold, as the original packaging for the cookies was a gold-colored tin.
Since their inception, Oreo has introduced several limited edition flavors, including Candy Corn, Gingerbread, Banana Split Creme, Lemon Twist, Watermelon, Creamsicle, Candy Cane and so many more. In 2012, they celebrated their 100 year anniversary by releasing a limited edition “Birthday Cake” Oreo with sprinkles in the creme filling and in conjunction, launched a marketing campaign titled “Celebrate the Kid Inside.”
The campaign illustrates the memories that Oreo creates and how it can bring us back to childhood, explains Emmanuelle Voirin, Oreo’s Senior Brand Manager.
“Oreo cookies transcend age and time. Grandparents who fell in love with Oreo when they were little now get to share the fun of the ‘twist, lick and dunk’ with their grandkids.”
Have you got your hands on a limited edition Oreo flavor? If so, Comment below and tell us all about it. Thanks for reading why is Oreo called Oreo! #whyisitcalledOreo
Adam Lang is the founder and editor of Rewind & Capture. He is passionate about creative marketing, design and brand etymology.