Oreo. In the snacking world there are few words more powerful than that glorious combination of three vowels and a consonant. Since 1912 Nabisco has dominated the cookie market with this marriage of chocolate and cream, the unassailable king of its domain.
As recently as 2003 no serious snackologist would have dreamt of attempting to review an Oreo product. It was tantamount to a Catholic priest offering up his critical opinion on God. We were disciples of the Oreo, and it was our sovereign deity.
But then Nabisco, in its hubris, began to offer our divine inspiration in a variety of flavors. Are we to worship these Golden Oreos?
The Oreo cookie formula hasn't changed much since Nabisco debuted it as the Oreo Biscuit in 1912, a brazen attempt to copy the success of the original chocolate cookie sandwich, 1908's Hydrox. That's right, the Oreo began life as a clone, but it has since become so much more.
In the 1990's Nabisco replaced the lard in the cream filling with trans-fat, but that's pretty much as far as Nabisco would go fiddling with the cookie's internals. The cosmetic appearance has changed, but the taste largely remained the same.
That's not to say Nabisco hadn't attempted to introduce variations on the Oreo theme over the years. In the 1920's the company released a variant with lemon cream, which bombed horribly. In 1974 the Double Stuf cookie was introduced, maintaining the same basic components but doubling up on the stuf. In 1985 Oreo Mint Crème cookies delighted Grasshopper fans. Oreos were covered with fudge, miniaturized, and filled with festive colored cream, but at the heart of these experiments was that classic combination — chocolate cookies and a disc of sweet goo.
And then the unthinkable happened.
Golden Oreos Nutrition
Serving Size: 35g (3 Cookies)
Servings per Container: about 15
Calories from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 25g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
In 2004, following a brief dalliance with a product called Uh Oh, Oreo consisting of chocolate cream inside vanilla cookies, Nabisco went full-on vanilla with Golden Oreos. While the Uh Oh product can be written off as a mistake, this was a purposeful maneuver to create a product almost entirely unlike the original, keeping it under the umbrella of that famous name.
To continue and intensify the mildly offensive Catholic metaphor from earlier, if you don't like regular god, why not try this completely different one? Don't worry, you'll still be Catholic.
The Oreo is a dark and powerful force. Merely catching a glimpse of those dark brown discs and their creamy passenger is enough to fill your mouth with flavor.
This? Not so much.
There's barely any contrast between the two elements, which to the amateur snacker might not seem important. The seasoned veteran, however, need only look at this picture to taste the problem with this lack of diversity.
Sight is just as important to our sense of taste as smell or taste itself. The input from our eyes and nose meets signals from our taste buds on the way to our brain (I am highly scientific), the three elements meeting on the canvas of our mind's tongue.
So when I see light beige cookie with off-white filling, my brain prepares itself for similar tastes. Where the traditional Oreo is a sublime dance of dark and light flavors, Golden Oreos taste like sugar.
Dunking, twisting, or tearing right in with all 20-32 teeth, the traditional methods for enjoying an Oreo don't create the wildly different experience with the Golden Oreo as they do with the Oreo proper. Just look at this:
There is no excitement to this picture. There's no passion. It's a lifeless preserver floating on a sea of disappointment, fully prepared to rescue absolutely no one from the mire of boring snacks.
As cookies go the taste isn't bad; in another life, from another package, I might even be satisfied with Nabisco's golden offering.
But I am not.
When the world hears the word "Oreo" it's more than just string of syllables indicating a popular cookie. The Oreo is an ideal. It's the heart of a belief system. It's the basis for an ice cream flavor. It's the dark crumbs in the teeth of a smile pondering the greatest of humanity's progress since the beginning of history.
It's delicious in milk.
The Oreo is many things, but there is one thing it is not: cream-filled vanilla cookies. The cream-filled vanilla cookie is a fine creation, but its realm is the bottom shelf at your local convenience store; its neighborhood the dust-covered aisle section between the good cookies and the crackers at the grocery store. It doesn't belong behind plastic emblazoned with the Oreo logo.
P.S. — My wife loves them.