Tom Blank of Weird History Food looks back at the twisty history of the iconic Oreo cookie, noting how the original version was actually a knockoff of the Hydrox, a competitor’s brand.
The company’s true defining moment arrived in 1912, when it introduced the world to the Oreo …. In many ways, it’s history’s finest invention. It was so genius, you can’t help but wonder how they got the idea for it. And it turns out, they didn’t. They stole it from a competitor. In 1908, the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company released the Hydrox, a cookie that is all but identical to an Oreo.
After a slow start, the Oreo eventually shot ahead. This was probably due to the fact that the name Hydrox is an amalgam of Hydrogen and Oxygen that couldn’t be trademarked. In fact, the scientific connotation of the name became popular with off-brand cleaning and industrial products, which only helped to cast the Hydrox cookie in a negative light.
Over time, Hydrox became attached to all sorts of products, which made the name sound generic to the public. Even worse, chemical companies began using it on substances that you absolutely should not dunk into a glass of milk…
Since that time, Oreo has become more popular, added new flavors, and has done quite a bit to maintain its social relevance in popular culture with such campaigns as “Wonderfilled”, an Oreo Game of Thrones intro, camouflaged packages, and “Milk’s Favorite Cookie”.
In 2004, Oreo unleashed a marketing campaign that claimed they were Milk’s favorite cookie. –a move that clearly inspired a lot of dunkers. They doubled down on that idea with 2017’s Oreo dunk challenge, which asked Oreo fans in 15 countries to record themselves dunking a cookie in milk.
Here’s the commercial for the campaign.
Here’s another classic ad for Oreo.