Oreo is releasing two new limited-edition flavors in its ongoing “Wonderfilled” series — Marshmallow Crispy and Cookie Dough. A commercial — featuring Tegan and Sara singing the jingle — premiered during the Grammy Awards Sunday.
The song has already been dissected. Grantland writes:
The song, like the Oreo itself, strikes a perfect blend of light and dark, tapping into a universal need for individuality and self-expression that might even extend beyond our snacking choices.
Wonder if we tried a new thing
Looked inside, see what we can bring
Forget who you’re supposed to be,
Take all your crazy flavors, show them all to me
If we dare to wonder about what holds us down,
The fears, the doubts,
Could we spark something, watch it grow?
Be more wonderfilled than we know
There’s more. Check out Esquire’s Eat Like A Man food blog, written by John Mariani
It’s not like sales of Oreo cookies are lagging.
They have long been and still are the best-selling cookies in America: more than 345 billion have been sold since first appearing in 1912 and still selling 7.5 billion every year.
So the announcement “confirming the rumors” that two new flavors are being launched in limited release—about six to eight weeks on the market—may have more to do with keeping Oreo’s image bright, even hip, when a TV spot, featuring vocals by indie rockers Tegan & Sara, plays during the Grammy Awards on Sunday, January 26. At the end of the commercial, Oreo will reveal a one-time-only, top-secret hashtag for “fans with the fastest thumbs who tweet” to get a free first taste of the new cookies, which hit the shelves in February.
The two new flavors are Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy. I’ve tasted them and they’re OK, in the way a variant of “Surfer Girl” with strings might be, or a Porsche with fins. The cookies were likeable, nice crunch, pretty much the same dark chocolate flavor in the Cookie Dough sample. The Marshmallow Crispy one is biscuit color and has something of the taste of Rice Krispie Treats.
They’re awfully sweet, but then Oreos never skimped on the sugar content. They are certainly not an absurd marketing gaffe like New Coke or Pepsi Clear, and the limited release gives them a kind of cult status. But after eating a couple of the new flavors, I didn’t feel like gorging on the rest of the package, as I and millions of fans do with uncontrolled abandon, with or without a glass or milk, on classic OREOS.
Indeed, a 2013 study from Connecticut College showed that, at least for lab rats, Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, activating the animals’ neurons in their “pleasure center” in the same way heavy drugs do. “I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment,” the school’s neuroscience assistant professor Joseph Schroeder said after getting the results. Awesome.
Oreos have had a long time to grow on us. They weren’t the first sandwich cookie—that was Hydrox in 1908, followed four years later with a very similar cookie developed by a grocer named S.C. Thueson, who named it Oreo, a name delectably, elusively mysterious, since nobody, not even Nabisco Biscuit Company that owns the trademark, knows what it means. It has been suggested that the name may derive from the French word for “gold,” or, because the original package had the product name in gold. Another guess is that the word is from the Greek for “mountain,” the shape of which early test batches of Oreos resembled. Both stories sound ridiculous.
But the catchy name itself was easy to stick in people’s minds. It had a happy sound, like a pet’s name, but one that sounded vaguely like a symbol for a secret society that passed out the cookies, with their odd imprints of what looks like four-leaf clovers and a UFO with an antenna, in low-lighted ritual halls, chanting “Oreo, Oreo, Oreo…” (Hydrox, which sounds like a cleaning solution, went through various hands, was discontinued, had name changes, and its most recent owner, Kellogg’s let the brand drop.) The name Oreo is so well known that it even became pejorative slang, both for a black person emulating whites (see Bryant Gumbel), and for a sexual threesome of two blacks and a white in between. (See Austin Powers.)
The appeal of the Oreo is not that it’s a filled cookie—nothing new there—but that it has a perfect balance of very dark, almost bitter chocolate, very crisp wafers and pure white cream center, so it is the only cookie that demands a certain decision about how to eat them: either you take a bite or you twist off the top cracker and lick off the cream filling.
Such behavior always comes up as a topic of conversation—the twister considered mildly deviant—and I suspect more than one divorce lawyer has heard one party complain that “I loathe the way he eats his Oreos! It drives me goddamn crazy!” Cookies in bed. Not good.
Oreo’s triple pleasure and twist-off top is what first beguiles children, but, however many thousands of the cookies you eat in your lifetime, those pleasures are recalled, along with the way the cookie softens in milk and how the crumbs bob in the milk, offering a fourth pleasure to the exercise of eating an Oreo. It’s something you never forget, the way most of us do about eating Spam or TV dinners or Chef Boyardee.
So whether or not Americans need a new Oreo flavor—these two are not the first ever marketed—seems moot. Variety is not such a bad thing—tassels on loafers, different color Post-Its, a new James Bond actor—but as with a few very good things in life, what was perfect when we were five should be just as wonderful when we’re fifty.