Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Delicious History of Oreo Cookies

By Michelle Shocklee

I have a confession. 

I love Oreo cookies. 

I mean, I love Oreo cookies. I can easily eat an entire package of them--regular, Double Stuff, mint, chocolate, etc. -- all by myself. In one day. Sadly, I'm older now, and Oreos and my waistline don't get along as well as they did back when I was a girl. I only allow myself to buy them a couple times a year now, so they are truly a special treat!

In honor of my affection for the yummy sandwich cookie, I included a black-and-white dog in my new novel Appalachian Song and named him Oreo! And because I named a dog Oreo in my book, it got me thinking about where Oreos came from in the first place. 

Until the late 19th century, the biscuit (also known as cookies) and cracker industry was made up of small independent local bakeries preparing and selling their products in bulk. Barrels and crates of these products were delivered by horse and wagon to grocery stores and were sold to consumers by weighing out the desired amount. In 1890, a group of 33 bakers combined to form the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company. In February 1898, 114 factories joined forces with them and formed the National Biscuit Company, also known as Nabisco.

Joseph Loose was a member of Nabisco's Board of Directors, but in 1902, he and his brother Jacob liquidated their holdings and formed their own company, eventually known as Sunshine Biscuit, Inc. It is this company, not Nabisco, who came up with the idea for a cookie, or biscuit, made from two chocolate cookie wafers with a creamy, white center. It was developed in 1908. 

For 90 years, Sunshine Biscuit sold the familiar-looking cookie under the name Hydrox, with the name derived from the hydrogen and oxygen elements within the water molecule, a nod to "purity and goodness." Consumers went crazy for them. 
Their popularity did not go unnoticed by the powers-that-be at Nabisco. In a move that seems rather underhanded, Nabisco created a similar cookie in 1912 and called it the Oreo Biscuit. The competition began. Interestingly, the origins of the name Oreo are unknown. There are theories out there, with French, Greek, or even Latin connections, but the truth is no one knows. An odd name, however, didn't stop consumers from purchasing the delicious treat. 

Nabisco's Oreo eventually surpassed Hydrox in popularity, resulting in the Hydrox cookies being perceived as an Oreo copycat. Compared to Oreos, Hydrox cookies have a less sweet filling and a crunchier cookie shell that doesn't get as soggy when dipped in milk, which as any Oreo cookie lover will tell you, is vital!
Ad for Oreos, 1961

The Oreo Biscuit was renamed in 1921 to Oreo Sandwich. In 1948, the name was changed to Oreo Crème Sandwich, and in 1974 it became the Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie, the name that has remained to this day. 

Double Stuff Oreos were introduced in 1974 in various flavors. In 1987, fudge covered Oreos hit the market. Halloween Oreos arrived in 1991, and Christmas Oreos in 1995. Today, Oreo sandwich cookies come in dozens of flavors and colors. They are available around the world. Overall, it is estimated that since the Oreo cookie's inception in 1912, over 450 billion Oreos have been produced worldwide. 

I wonder how many of them I've consumed through the years?! 

Your turn: What is your favorite cookie? Do you dunk them in milk or not?

Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels, including Count the Nights by Stars, winner of the 2023 Christianity Today Book Award, and Under the Tulip Tree, a Christy Awards and Selah Awards finalist. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at www.MichelleShocklee.com


Forever within the memories of my heart.
Always remember, you are perfectly loved.

Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart.

Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.



  1. Thank you for posting about such a fun and delicious topic today! My favorite cookie....I can't answer that. My favorite cookie is homemade, warm if it's meant to be eaten warm like chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter cookies. I also love sugar cookies and the spritz kind you make for Christmas. But sadly, I don't make them nor do I eat them much any more. Diabetes is a stern taskmaster.

  2. You are a gal after my own heart. I could eat the whole box too. Oreos are my husband's achille heel when it comes to sweets. I try not to eat his share. It isn't easy. I loved Hydrox too and rally any chocolate sandwich cookie. I'm not a big dunker though. I eat more if I dunk it because you have to use up all that cookie crumb milk and therefore you need a few extra cookies. Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

  3. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, molasses, gingerbread, M&M, doesn't matter as long as they're fresh from the oven and still gooey. No milk, please.

  4. LOL Reading your post I had to go to my Walmart grocery order and add Oreos to the order