Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Great Oreo vs. Hydrox Competition

I came across this 1960s ad for Hydrox cookies and it reminded me of the eternal question (not really): why are there Oreos AND Hydrox cookies? And which are better? Which came first?

This ad states that Hydrox is "the original cream-filled chocolate cookie" and they did indeed come first - they were first sold in 1908 and the Oreo came along in 1912; the Oreo, made by Nabisco in New York City (the street the factory was on, 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th, is now called Oreo Way).

No one seems to know why it is called an Oreo. It might have something to do with "or," the French word for gold. And it might not. As for Hydrox, the name was a portmanteau word made from hydrogen and oxygen. It was supposed to stand for a modern, scientific goodness in your sandwich cookie. The Hydrox IS science.

Oreo on the other hand was unscientifically golden. It became the best selling cookie in the US and it has been that way for the Oreo ever since. Poor Hydrox. I've never had one but I gather that they were a bit less sweet, and less crumbly when dunked, than Oreos.  A lot of people loved them, according to this Wall Street Journal story. If you were a Hydrox fan, you were (I gather from the WSJ) a little edgier, a little more "in the know." It was the hipster of cookies. Oreo was for the hoi polloi.

But alas for Hydrox. Between 1999 and 2003, Keebler (who bought the Sunshine Biscuit Co. in 1996) made
ABC News
something similar to the original Hydrox, called Droxies. In 2008 in honor of the cookie's 100th birthday, Keebler began making the original Hydrox cookie again - only for a year, though. But take heart, Hydrox hipsters. Leaf Brands bought the trademark Hydrox Cookies this very year and apparently will start making them again. They should be out at the end of the year, so you can start looking for Hydrox again pretty soon.

If you are in the US, that is. I'm in Canada so I probably won't be looking. There is a Canadian version of the Oreo/Hydrox though. It has a surprisingly bossy name (ironic, because Canadians are are so agreeable and polite, you know): Eat the Middle First. This is the cookie that orders you to approach it in a very specific way. This cookie does not want to be dunked headfirst into a glass of milk. It wants to be analyzed and deconstructed like a poem. What do you think it is, a doughnut?

And the convenience-friendly, ready-to-eat, instant-coffee version of all this is over on Tumblr.


Catherine said...

Great and fun info. I do remember the Hydrox; Catherine

Ellia Kassoff said...

Thanks for the article. Yes, we plan on bringing Hydrox back very soon and everyone is anxiously waiting!


Ellia Kassoff
Leaf Brands, LLC

Lidian C said...

Catherine - I remember it too! :)

Lidian C said...

Ellia Kassoff -

Wow, thank you so much for visiting here! Looking forward to seeing Hydrox in stores again :)

vanilla said...

"you can start looking for Hydrox again pretty soon."

Good news!