The Oreo (and the way to eat it), has transcended borders and cultures and shown up in many parts of the world, even in China. Introduced to China only 16 years ago, the three-syllable name and term Oreo (AO Li AO 奥利奥) has already become part of the common psyche and vernacular.
Of course Oreo's journey into China wasn't all smooth sailing. The original recipe had to be altered for Chinese palates the and sugar content reduced (funny considering how many traditional Chinese deserts are tooth-decayingly sweet). Over the years, Kraft China also introduced a variation of Oreos that deviated from the cookie formula, wafers, cookie straws, cakes and such. Some of these deviations from the traditional cookie have made it to the States, but they remain staples only in China.
The Oreo Brand currently offers 19 different variations of Oreos. 9 are different flavors of cookie, the other 10 are various deviations from the main cookie type.
Now I'm not claiming to be a snackologist, particularly because the subject matter of this "review" hits on touching the "sovereign deity that is the Oreo". However like Kotaku's resident Snackologist Mike Fahey put it, "But then Nabisco, in its hubris, began to offer our divine inspiration in a variety of flavors."
Kraft offers 9 variations of the basic cookie sandwich equation all of which is just a deviation from the original cream filling. 6 are single flavor fillings, you've got the original flavor, then the more common strawberry and chocolate creme fillings. The other three single flavor fillings are a bit more out there with the "sprinkle" filled birthday flavor and the two "ice cream" flavored fillings.
The remaining three "regular" cookies come in the "double delight" variation. Same chocolate cookies but with dual toned cremes. Unlike the more generic variations found state-side, Kraft China has opted to go with flavor combinations such as grape/peach and raspberry/blueberry.
Each of these cookies were put through a rigorous test of twisting, tearing, licking and dunking to see how they fare as an "Oreo" cookie.
The original flavor cookie should be familiar to everyone who's had an Oreo cookie. Of course the Chinese version will disappoint some with its lower sugar content.
While I wasn't too fond of the Chinese take on the original Oreo, the Chinese version of the chocolate made me forget what it was like to eat a real chocolate creme Oreo. The cream is light and airy and not too chocolatey. In fact it feels like a compliment to the Chocolate cookie instead of the main focus. The chocolate favor of the cream is so subtle that even when you lick the cream directly the chocolate isn't that strong.
Strawberry creme like Chocolate creme lacks a punch. The strawberry flavoring is very light and near nonexistent but compared to the chocolate Oreo, this one didn't quite compliment the cookie.
Green Tea Ice Cream
The Green Tea Ice Cream came straight out of left field; it wasn't something that I expected. The moment the green creme touches your tongue a tingly sensation starts to spread. No I don't mean the tingly sensation you get when you're surprised or anxious but instead one that feels like you just chewed a some double-mint gum. Dipping the cookie in milk only strengthens the feeling. Eating this cookie made me want to drink some Lipton Brisk iced tea.
Vanilla Ice Cream
This cookie tasted exactly like a regular Oreo albeit with the same tingly sensation that the Green Tea Ice Cream cookie had. This tingly sensation isn't bad—it doesn't add or subtract from the taste, but it simply cannot be ignored.
Perhaps its because of my sweet tooth, or maybe because I like crunchy sprinkles, but this cookie was perhaps my favorite of all the Oreo cookies I had to consume for this review. Think of a regular Oreo cookie with its vanilla filling but peppered with different flavored sprinkles. Some sprinkles taste like a citrus fruit, others taste like just pure sugar, but there's definitely nothing wrong with that.
Maybe it has something to do with the sprinkles creating bumps in the cream, but this cookie was definitely the best one to twist apart!
Originally the whole concept of "double delight" Oreos, well, delighted me, but I was hesitant about the Chinese take on it. Here they went with fruit fillings and changed the name to "Double Fruit Oreos". The raspberry and blueberry combination was very pungent. Once outside of the wrapper, my living room was filled with some kind of grape/berry smell. I own a dog, and for the smell of the Oreo to permeate past the dog smell is quite the feat.
Taste wise this cookie was just strange. Separately the cream fillings may have worked, together they clash. The blueberry had a slight sourness to it that overwhelmed the tanginess of the raspberry. The cookie also clashed with milk.
The Mango/Orange combination was my favorite of the fruity blends. It smells and tastes like Trident Tropical Twist gum. I know, I know, equating the taste to gum and saying that it tastes good is odd but this cookie is really really good. Anyone who's enjoyed eating chocolate oranges will enjoy this cookie.
Not being a fan of anything grape flavored (except cold syrup and actual grapes), this cookie really turned me off. Like with the strawberry and chocolate cookies, the taste of the cream was negligible. There is only a slight aftertaste of grape at the end of each bite. Strangely the peach flavor is completely absent. Like the blueberry/raspberry cookie, this one didn't go very well with milk.
The wafers unfortunately aren't that different from each other. The Vanilla chocolate wafer and the regular chocolate wafer are reminiscent of Kit-Kat bars, except the chocolate covering the wafers is a bit thicker. The wafers unlike the cookies don't really dunk well in milk and you can't really lick the chocolate off, unless you let it melt underneath your fingers for a while. They're light and airy too, meaning that I ate about 5 during the time it took me to write this sentence.
The coconut wafer on the other hand wasn't covered in chocolate and dunked like a champion. Due to the fact that I'm a messy eater I didn't really enjoy eating this cookie. It tasted great but it left chocolatey crumbs everywhere. Considering my dog licks everything including crumbs off my peach fuzz of a beard, he might accidentally consume some chocolate. It did give the milk a kick ass coconutty chocolatey taste to it!
Oreo Sippers - Chocolate straw
Taking the whole "Oreos and milk go together" notion, making a cookie straw seemed like a good idea. It did well State-side as cereal straws but one thing about these "straws" is that they aren't very good straws. The chocolate straw tastes really dry and mediocre when, well, dry. Add in some milk and the whole thing comes together. Novelty aside this isn't my kind of treat.
Strawberry Oreo Soft Cookie
Another strange "cookie" to bear the Oreo name in China is the soft cookie. Basically just chocolate cookies with flavored icing. Despite having nothing to do with Oreos the cookie has the Oreo name and it does well to uphold it. The soft cookie was a nice closer to all the crumbly crunchy cookies that I had before it. The body was solid and it held up well. Also the flavored icing wasn't too strong or too weak, just enough to give the cookie a touch of strawberry flavor.
Ultimately it's understandable that Kraft had to create so many variations of their holy cookie. In China there are close to 1.4 billion, billion with a B, people. It almost feels as if Kraft was putting the Oreo name on all these products for the sole purpose of putting their name out as much as possible.
Kraft's strategies seemed to have worked considering Oreo is synonymous in China with cookie sandwiches and that China is now Oreo's second biggest market world-wide. But to true Oreo lovers, the standard American Oreo is still the way to go, and after ingesting 30 plus cookies and risking diabetes, I'd have to say, I still miss American Oreos.