Monday, April 22, 2013

How the Cookies Crumble

The Oreo cookie celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, and darned if I didn’t fail to observe the occasion. The first Oreos were produced in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, and the name was trademarked on March 12 of that year. 

There is a lot of disagreement over the origin of the name Oreo.  One theory holds that it derives from the French word or, meaning “gold,” the color of the cookies’ original packaging.  Others say it stems from the Greek ōréos, a word for “beautiful” when applied to inanimate objects.  One outlandish notion suggests that it was formed by taking the re in crème (the vanilla filling) and placing those letters between two O’s formed by the two outer cookies.  If the folks at Nabisco know the truth, they aren’t telling.

It should be noted for the record that I also failed to observe the 100th anniversary of the very similar Hydrox cookie, which was launched in 1908—four years before Oreo. The name Hydrox is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, the constituents of water. Over the years Hydrox got the reputation of being a knockoff of Oreo, instead of the other way around.  After a series of transmutations, including one as Keebler’s “Droxies,” what used to be a Hydrox is now available only as a variety of Famous Amos.

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou has not eaten an Oreo in more than 50 years. He is a militant advocate of more healthful fruit products, especially the fermented variety.

            A tenor whose name was Vittorio
            Was jazzed up from eating an Oreo,
            So, thanks to Nabisco,
            He broke into disco
            While singing a Bach oratorio.

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