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What are Oreo Cookies?

By A. B. Kelsey
Updated May 16, 2024
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Oreo® is the trademark name for the popular sandwich cookie manufactured by the Nabisco division of Kraft foods. The most popular Oreo® design is the classic one: two thin, chocolate-flavored wafer cookies with a rich, white cream filling.

The Oreo® cookie was introduced to the American public back in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, which is now called Nabisco. Created primarily to target the British immigrants living in New York City, the first cookies were called Oreo Biscuits and were sold for thirty cents a pound. These early versions were mound-shaped and stuffed with either lemon meringue or vanilla cream filling. Evidently, the Oreo® was just the treat customers had been craving, because the cookie was an instant big seller.

The vanilla cream far outsold the lemon meringue, and the latter was dropped in the 1920s. Nabisco began using the chocolate wafers in 1916, and the shape and design of the Oreo® cookie didn't vary again until the company started selling new variations in 1975.

The first twist on the popular classic was Double Stuff® Oreos, which contain twice the normal amount of the cream filling. Around Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, special edition Double Stuff® Oreos are produced with colored frosting symbolizing the current holiday. Flavored Oreos such as mint, peanut butter, and caramel are another popular alternative. The Double Delight® Oreos take it one step further by combining two different flavored fillings, as in mint ‘n cream, coffee ‘n cream, and peanut butter ‘n chocolate.

Those on a diet can buy boxes of the 100-Calorie Pack Oreos, which are miniature, hexagonal-shaped, cream-free versions of Oreo® cookies packaged in individually portioned pouches. And for those who would like an even sweeter treat, White Fudge Oreos and Milk Chocolate Oreos have wafers covered in a layer of white fudge and chocolate fudge respectively. Through all of the variations, the Oreo® has remained one of America’s most consistently popular cookies.

How did the Oreo® cookie get its name? There are many different theories. Some believe “Oreo” stems from the French word “or,” meaning gold, which was the primary color of the early Oreo packages. Others claim the name was based on the Greek word “oreo,” meaning hill or mound, which was the shape of the original Oreo® cookie. Still others feel the name was created by combining the letters “re” from the word “cream” and sandwiching them between the two “o”s in the word “chocolate.” Perhaps the cookie was called Oreo® simply because it was short and easy for the non-English speaking immigrants to pronounce. Nabisco has never said one way or the other.

No matter how the product got its name, Oreos were the best selling cookie in the United States during the 20th century. Nabisco claims that the number of Oreos sold since they hit the market is enough to reach to the moon and back five and a half times.

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Discussion Comments
By anon182974 — On Jun 03, 2011

Oreos did used to have lard in them but they took that out in the mid 1990's so enjoy!

By dagaZ — On May 28, 2011

I'm forty-eight years old and I *still* eat my Oreos by twisting the top off first! Some things are just timeless. Oreos are one of them!

By Cruze — On May 26, 2011

For holidays we make our own chocolate covered Oreos. We melt the chocolate in a fondue pot, dip the cookies, then decorate them with sprinkles and other goodies. A few hours in the refrigerator and they're good to go.

By Eli222 — On May 24, 2011

A few years ago there was a rumor spreading around that the cream filling of Oreos was nothing but lard and sugar. When I heard that I stopped buying them. Is it true?

If it's not, I'll go back to buying them. I miss my oreo shakes!

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