Oreo Celebrates 100th birthday, Invites Consumers to Join the Party

Consumers can join the birthday celebration with Limited Edition Birthday Cake Oreo cookies.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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Kraft Foods, the proud custodian of the Nabisco Oreo brand, is celebrating Oreo's 100th birthday on March 6, and invites all consumers to join in the festivities for one of the world's most iconic and interactive brands.

Kraft can boast Oreo is the world's favorite cookie, the best-selling cookie brand of the 21st century (with $1.5 billion in global annual revenues), and one of the company's 12 billion-dollar annual-sales brands. It's enjoyed in more than 100 countries. Some 25 million Oreos are sold per day (more than 9 billion per year), and children and adults have consumed more than 490 billion since "milk's favorite cookie" – an early advertising slogan -- was introduced in 1912.

If you hurry, you can buy Limited Edition Birthday Cake Oreo cookies and celebrate at home. One wafer is embossed with a special design (a candle and words "Oreo 100"). The creamy white filling has flecks of colored candy sprinkles reminiscent of birthday cake frosting. This Oreo even tastes a bit like birthday cake.

Everyone loves the unforgettable ritual known as Twist, Lick, Dunk, before they eat their Oreo. Since most of us grew up eating Oreo cookies, we understand what that means and can defend our version of the best way to eat them -- twist off one side, lick the crème off first, dunk them whole or in part in milk, and enjoy.

As an addictive, intuitive, indulgent Scorpio, my philosophy is more is better. I put my Oreos (always seven for good feng shui) in a pretty plate (for visual splendor) standing up on their sides and bookcased with a dark chocolate truffle on either side. I contemplate whether or not to roll the Oreos across the table (to ensure the stuffing is distributed properly), then slowly, one at a time, I investigate and savor the Original Oreo or Chocolate Crème stuffing first, followed by the cookie.

My beverage of choice is a double espresso, but milk is prefered by most fans. If you have not been properly initiated and need dunking lessons, check out www.wikihow.com/Eat-an-Oreo-Cookie.

That said, let's go back to the beginning, when several baking companies merged to form the National Biscuit Co. (NaBisCo) in 1898. Nabisco created Barnum's Animal cookies in 1902 and made them famous by selling them in a little box designed like a cage with a string as a handle. It was 1912 when Nabisco came up with a new idea for a cookie: two chocolate wafer disks embossed with a simple wreath -- a triumph of a design -- with a crème filling in between. The cookie design was augmented in 1924 with two pairs of turtledoves, and its present design debuted in 1952.

Decoding the current design, the circle topped with a two-bar cross with the word Oreo is a variant of the Nabisco logo. Or it could be an early European symbol for quality. Or possibly the Cross of Lorraine, as carried by the Knights Templar into the Crusades, reports Atlantic Monthly.

How did the Oreo get its name? Even Nabisco veterans aren't certain. Some believe it was taken from the French word for gold, "or," since the cookies initially came in gold-colored packages. Others claim the name stemmed from the original hill-shaped test version; "oreo" is Greek for mountain. My favorite theory is the name is a combination of "re" from crème, sandwiched between two "O's" representing either the shape of the cookie or the two O's in chOcOlate. Then again, it could simply be because Oreo is easy to pronounce and rolls nicely off the tongue.

When the first Oreo rolled off the production line at Manhattan's Chelsea Market bakery in 1912, the first sale was in Hoboken, N.J. The dunkable cookies were first packaged in bulk tins and sold by weight. Back then, grocers paid 30 cents per lb. for Oreo.

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