Oreo Cookies by the Numbers

Whether you dunk it in milk, twist it apart, pull it apart, or eat it whole, the Oreo cookie remains one of America’s — and the world’s — best-selling cookie. On March 6, 2012, the ubiquitous sandwich cookie celebrated its 100th birthday. The Oreo is a quintessential American snack that evokes nostalgia like other classics of that era: Cracker Jack (introduced in 1893) and the Twinkie (introduced in 1930). The first Oreos (called Oreo Biscuits back in 1912) were produced by the National Biscuit Company (or Nabisco, later acquired by Kraft Foods in 2000) at the Chelsea Market bakeries located on West 15th Street in New York (Oreo Way is the stretch of West 15th Street between 9th and 10th Ave.)

Exactly who came up with the idea for the cookie and its name is almost as puzzling as the ingredients that make up the center creme filling. Perhaps the Oreo was developed to compete against the popular cookie of the time, the Hydrox cookie (introduced in 1908), manufactured by the Sunshine company. (The Hydrox fought for shelf space in grocery aisle until 1999). Despite several proposed etymologies for the name of the cookie — most of them far-fetched — the most likely source of the name Oreo is (1) it is derived from the Greek word “oreo” meaning beautiful or well done; (2) it is derived from the Greek word “orexin” meaning appetizing; or (3) it is derived from the Greek word “oros” (also “oreo”) meaning mountain or hill. Or it could be all three — it’s all Greek to me. Nevertheless, when you have a product this successful it makes you wonder what happened to that employee that invented and named the cookie (was he fired for stealing cookies from the cookie jar?). At least  Nabisco had the good sense to record and preserve the Oreo cookie recipe.

William Turnier was a Nabisco cookie designer in 1952 who added the Nabisco logo to the intricate pattern on the face of the Oreo. He  explained that the Nabisco orb and double cross was a symbol dating back to medieval monks, who copied manuscripts, and placed that symbol at the bottom signifying that the scribes had done their best. Indeed the cookie bakers at Nabisco did their best to create a cookie for all ages — and a century later, kids of all ages are still dunking those sandwich cookies:

Annual worldwide sales in 2011: $2 billion
Number of Oreos sold since 1912: 491 billion (that’s 70 cookies for every human on the planet)
Number of Oreos sold per day: 95 million
Nations where Oreos are sold: 100+
Top sales by nation: US, China, Venezuela, Canada, and Indonesia (in that order)
Original price in 1912: 25 cents a pound, sold in novelty tins
Suggested retail price today: $4.00 (15 oz bag)
Factories around the world that produce Oreos: 20
Number of flavors: 33+
Oreos adapted to other forms (like pie crusts, ice cream, etc): 25+
Shelf life of Oreos: 2-3 when stored properly

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles…


Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57391895/popular-cookie-oreo-turns-100

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