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An Oreo Mystery

November 9, 2017

There is no real mystery as to why Oreo cookies are so popular. Those dark, crisp, chocolatey cookies have a great snap to them. And that sweet, white, creamy center is a great foil in texture and flavor to the cookies that contain it. They are fun to eat. They go well with milk. And while two is a perfect snack, it’s easy to chow down on a mass quantity of these delightful rounds.

When it comes to cookies, I like them crispy. I know that I’m an outlier on this. But that’s okay.

Still, I don’t really eat Oreos. My sweet tooth is satisfied with the malty backbone of an IPA, the fruitiness of a syrah, or the juiciness of a crisp apple. If I am going to eat a cookie, I prefer one made by human hands, and with plenty of high quality butter.

That said, one thing that I cannot resist is a good marketing gimmick. Ask the folks at Nine Pin Cider. They got me to go out 26 times over the course of the year and try a different cider every two weeks, just so I could get a sweet card that said I did it.

So when I saw that Nabisco had made a batch of Mystery Oreos, where if you could guess the flavor you could win a big cash prize, I had to give it a go.

Flavored Oreos?

It seems like blasphemy. I still have a hard time with double stuffed Oreos, but those at least I can understand. When I was a kid in the dark days before double stuffed Oreos, I remember watching my friends twist apart two Oreos, and stack the two fillings together.

They would unceremoniously throw away the two plain halves.

The double stuffed Oreo was at least filing a consumer need. I can’t imagine anyone was looking at their bag of Oreos and wishing they were birthday cake flavored.

But the good folks at Nabisco have apparently been flavoring Oreos for years with all kinds of stupid artificial flavors. Somehow, I’ve managed to miss all of it. Thankfully. That is, until now. Because besides a good marketing gimmick, the one thing I love is a tasting challenge.

So there we were at Target. Little Miss Fussy and I went to the checkout lane and I asked the cashier if she had an inside line about this mystery flavor. She did.

“Fruity Pebbles,” she tells me.
So I ask, “Okay, well what flavor is that?”

I think it’s a fair question. And I think she did too, even though she didn’t have the answer.

My operating theory about this promotion was a little complicated. Before opening the bag, I had thought that someone in R&D had come up with a delicious flavor that tasting panels enjoyed, but someone from marketing nixed because the name of it was too foreign.

You know, like mangosteen or persimmon.

The marketing guy was like, “I don’t care how delicious they may be, nobody is the US is going to buy mangosteen Oreos.” And the product guy says, “Well, we’ve made a million of them.”

Mystery Oreos seems like the perfect solution.

At least that was my theory before opening the bag. But after trying these painfully awful Oreos, that theory no longer holds any water. The aroma immediately reminded me of fruit punch. I have no idea if Fruity Pebbles also smell like fruit punch, and I don’t care to find out.

But what flavor is fruit punch? Well, if you believe the hype from Hawaiian Punch it’s apple, apricot, guava, orange, papaya, passion fruit, and pineapple. But one flavor scientist has been able to synthesize it with even fewer ingredients.

The aroma identification was fun.

What wasn’t fun was eating a fruit punch flavored Oreo. What was even less fun was not being able to get the taste of the artificial flavor out of my mouth. For starters it seemed to adhere to the enamel of my teeth. But it was worse than that, because those fruity esters seemed to continue to off gas up my esophagus for hours after consuming them.

If that sounds unappetizing to you, I’m glad. Because it should. The experience was vile and foul. And maybe some people are simply accustomed to the persistent effects of artificial flavors. But man, I was not expecting that.

As a rule, we don’t throw away food. But those cookies went in the trash. I’m not even sure the leftovers should go to graduate students. And now Oreos are dead to me. I’m sure the original Oreos are still fine. But the brand left a bad taste in my mouth, and that’s a difficult thing to recover from.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. KingOfBeacon permalink
    November 9, 2017 11:07 am

    I only eat the vastly superior Joe-Joe’s from Trader Joe’s.

  2. November 9, 2017 11:21 am

    Holding out for durian Oreos.

  3. November 9, 2017 11:30 am

    Maybe it’s my imagination, but like the Halloween candy, Oreos aren’t as good as they used to be. And splitting two Oreos and making your own double stuff is much better than buying double stuff.

  4. Bob W. permalink
    November 9, 2017 11:49 am

    “As a rule, we don’t throw away food. But those cookies went in the trash.”

    Same in our house. Thought it would be a fun treat for the boys, but all three (and the adults, as well) declared them inedible.

    The only good thing I can say about them is they compelled the missus to make a batch of her homemade chocolate chip cookies, so we all won in the end. But those Mystery Oreos…blech.

    Also, finally had an occasion to use my Johnny Rockets coupon from the FLB for the “new” downtown location — it wasn’t Mystery Oreo bad, but it wasn’t far off the mark. But that’s another story for another day.

  5. Ryan H permalink
    November 9, 2017 12:19 pm

    The flavored Oreos are almost uniformly bad. We have an office of 20 people that will eat all kinds of stuff, but the box of Mystery Oreos went unfinished. There’s a box of Hot Cocoa Oreos right now suffering the same fate.

    I will say, though, you should try the Oreo Thins. I was skeptical, but I think they might be better than regular Oreos. They still have the crunch and the cream, but without all that extra cookie that just gets stuck in my teeth. The ratios are just right, and the wafer thin cookies are some kind of manufacturing miracle. And incredibly, the coconut-flavored ones are great.

  6. November 9, 2017 12:25 pm

    Ha! I tried those at the insistence of my kids. I thought they were going for Valencia…

  7. Katie permalink
    November 9, 2017 1:17 pm

    Ditto Ryan H. on the thins. Most of the flavored Oreos sound horrible and they’ve gone down that dark, predictable, pumpkin spice road, which is difficult to forgive, but I have say the lemon Oreos are in my book better than the original. I prefer lemony things to chocolate, so take this with a grain of salt.

  8. enough already! permalink
    November 9, 2017 8:29 pm

    Besides recovery, it’s also a difficult thing to swallow…
    Hydrox any day, anyway.

  9. Pam C. permalink
    November 9, 2017 10:19 pm

    I haven’t seen the Mystery Oreos in my area (Southwest Florida), but I haven’t really looked for them, either. I do like the mint flavor, the birthday cake flavor, and the Double Stuf. But if the mystery ones taste like Fruity Pebbles, I doubt I would like it. I was one of those weird kids who didn’t like sugary cereals, although my younger brothers would eat them and add more sugar on top. 😖 I liked to eat Life, and Oat Flakes. Why can’t you buy oat flakes any more? Thank God for Cheerios!

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