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The Cookie Crumbles

What’s happened to the Oreo?

For years, I’ve argued that it is, hands-down, the greatest commercially produced cookie ever. And I have no problem defending that claim.

This standard of snack food (I’d go so far as to call it a national treasure) is not only delicious, but also simple and versatile.

Made of crunchy, outer cocoa “biscuits” that sandwich a white cream filling, the balance of flavors is spot-on. And eating options are plenty.

One may choose “traditional” style, in two to three small bites, each perfectly balanced between the crunchy outer layers and cream filling. Or one might gobble them down in a single bite (an aggressive but reasonable option) or choose to unscrew it so one can lick or scrape the cream off with one’s teeth before eating the rest.

Maybe the most iconic method is dunking one’s Oreo in milk (not my thing, but I get it and certainly don’t judge those who opt for this approach).

Over the years, I’ve gone from an “unscrew and eat the elements separately” to a “traditional” Oreo eater; gobbling them down in two to three (usually two) bites each, until I’ve devoured half a row or more (usually more).

I don’t eat Oreos often, but when I do, I enjoy them as much as the first time I tried them, and they bring back fond memories of my earlier days. Those memories just add to my loyalty to this iconic cookie.

So, there’s my argument for the Oreo. If you’re a Chips Ahoy! person, a fan of the Nutter Butter, can’t get enough of any of the many varieties of Girl Scout cookies, or prefer other more exotic or off-beat brands, that’s your choice and I’m sure you have good and valid reasons to support your favorite(s).

But to me, it’s Oreo, hands down. So, you can imagine how, decades ago, I was shocked when the Double Stuf Oreo was introduced to the market. While they were (and I assume remain) a big hit, I didn’t like …

… I didn’t like it at all.

To me the extra cream filling completely threw off the balance that defined the Oreo; the thing that set it apart from other snacks that just couldn’t stop trying to do more.

When Double Stuf arrived, the Oreo lost some of its class and sophistication, opting for shock value over quality and reliability. It was like attending an Elvis concert in his jumpsuit-wearing days.

That said, over the years I moved on, realizing that things like Double Stuf Oreos, like so many other things that bothered me, were here to stay. It happened across many foods with classic, simple, original versions: from breakfast cereals to toaster pastries, pudding cups to Popsicles.

“It’s progress,” they said, “it’s what the consumer wants.” Funny, I never recall anyone calling to ask me if I wanted colorful Crunch Berries added to my Cap’n Crunch, birthday cake-flavored Kit Kats or an extra dollop of cream added to my Oreos, but I accepted it if not as progress, at least as society’s desire to always go one better, one more step toward something new and exciting (though I’ll be damned if I know that “something” is).

Recently, I learned Oreo has introduced “The Most Oreo,” with even more cream, and get this, the filling has ground Oreos mixed in. (Scratches head, sighs heavily.)

Are people OK with this? Are we just going to stand idly by and accept anything “Big Cookie” pushes at us?

I’m all for progress, and we need it in so many areas of our lives and society, when it’s responsible, inclusive, when it helps others, makes us safer or more unified. But this, this “Most Oreo” just strikes me as gratuitous, and I’ll go as far as to say irresponsible.

They’ve taken an icon, a respected cookie and made a mockery of it with this overblown, jumpsuit-wearing diluted version of the original; the one I had come to know and love.

It’s like Oreo had a midlife crisis and now, it can stop making changes, thinking every successive transformation will make it more attractive, younger and more appealing.

But it won’t, not to this Oreo fan. I love the Oreo for what it is (or was) and what it represents: a classic, unassuming, humble cookie that’s confident in what it is and not afraid to put itself out there, letting others decide for themselves if they want to participate.

The original Oreo is just that, original (though admittedly, it was derived from the Hydrox cookie in the early 1900s), and in my mind it has nothing to prove.

It doesn’t – and it never did – need Double Stuf, fudge-dipped, mint or any of the other 85 (and counting, I presume) versions it now boasts. And now, we have “The Most.” The Most cream filling. And The Most Oreo in the filling.

Where will it stop? Will it ever stop? It should, because as with so many other things, the “most” isn’t always the best.

© 2023 David R. Haznaw

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