I’m having an existential crisis. Not, like, a huge one. It’s not about me (well, it IS, to the extent that I’m the one writing about it…). It’s about Oreos. I’m trying to understand what an Oreo is. I know this sounds like I’ve spent last night really taking advantage of my medicinal marijuana prescription, but it’s sort of the flipside to that. I just want to know where the boundaries are.
If you were on a really, really boring game show called Accurate Definitions (where Home Improvement’s Richard Karn read words and then you buzzed in and accurately defined them in fewer words than your opponent) and you got Kleenex, you would buzz in and say, like, “facial tissue made by Kimberly Clark.” and that sounds pretty good to me. I think you’d get the points. And if he read “Oreo”, you’d buzz in and say “a chocolate sandwich cookie with white creme filling.”
And you’d be sorta right. But not completely right. Yes, there are Oreos that are chocolate sandwich cookies with white creme filling. But there are also Oreos with orange filling for Halloween and yellow filling for spring. So it’s still a chocolate sandwich cookie with creme filling. Except they also make chocolate sandwich cookies with other flavored fillings. So now we’re back to chocolate sandwich cookie.
EXCEPT they also make cookies with flavors other than chocolate. So we could say that an Oreo is a sandwich cookie. That encompasses the weird sub-genre of Golden Oreos.
EXCEPT they make cookies where they only have one sandwich cookie, not two – hence, not a sandwich. (Don’t talk to me about the Open Face Sandwich. You know a handy nickname for an Open Face Sandwich? Not. A. Sandwich.) They dip the one cookie/creme combo in chocolate like a Thin Mint on steroids. So it’s still a cookie, just not a sandwich creme. So we could say it’s a cookie.
EXCPET they make those weird Cakesters where, instead of a cookie, it’s 2 of the world’s tiniest cupcake tops with creme in the middle. I can understand the pie crust and the ice cream cones. It’s like they crushed up the cookies and pressed them into a new form. But Cakesters? That’s just a ripoff Suzy Q, right? At least that makes sense in as much as Oreos are a ripoff of Hydrox, but still.
And they make a brownie bar. And brownies. And those 100 calorie snack packs? That’s not the same recipe. No way. It’s still a treat, I guess. (as much as one can delude oneself into thinking that a 100 calorie snack pack is a treat).
So now we’ve boiled it down to Treat. Maybe it’s a sandwich thing. Maybe it’s cookies, maybe it’s cake, maybe it’s chocolate, maybe it’s not. Treat is kinda subjective, though. One person’s “Mmmm, cheddar cheese” is another person’s “Yuck, cheddar cheese” and all that. And depending on your taste, can’t any food be a treat? So is it just a food? If it’s just a food, the company is totally failing to push the boundaries of the brand. Why isn’t there a Lunchables-like product where you assemble two pieces of chocolate-flavored sandwich bread and a slice of Velveeta-co-branded Creme Cheese Filling into an Oreo Lunch Sandwich? Shouldn’t there be Oreo taco shells? Golden Oreo softshells and Chocolate Oreo hardshells. And a ready-to-bake Oreo dinner where the sandwich-cookie sections are two orders of Beef Wellington and the center is chicken cordon bleu?
And, on the flipside, if you take the Michael Pollan opinion that Oreos are not Food, but a Food-Like Substance, made of processed materials that our bodies aren’t really designed to use as energy, then there’s really no reason that Oreos need to be something edible.
Now they can move beyond food. Now they can be a bodyspray that doesn’t look or taste like a cookie, but that smells like chocolate. Or a piece of clothing that doesn’t smell or taste like chocolate, but has two outer layers and a soft, inner layer. Now it’s an insulation technology that Columbia uses in their toughest winter coats (“When you need a jacket that stands up to the nature’s toughest elements, you need Oreo.”) It’s a cushion technology that Nike uses to capture and maximize inertia and momentum (“Oreo Springsters allow an athlete to take energy that would otherwise reverberate back through their feet and legs causing injury, and channel it through the Creme Cushioning and Crisp Cookie Sole. Faster running, higher jumping – that’s Oreo.”)
3M creates a line of temporary adhesives based on the creme. Levi’s uses the cookie design on shirt buttons and jeans rivets, and exchanges their traditional gold stitching for creme-inspired white stitching. (The gold comes back, of course, but as a limited edition line of Levi’s 511 Oreo-Wash Skinny Straight Jeans with Spring Butterscotch stitching.)
Untrustworthy-looking jewelry designer Neil Lane creates a tri-band Oreo wedding ring set – Onyx rings, Lab-growth Creme diamonds, shipped in a plastic tray with a resealable plastic wrapper.
The Olympics update their logo from 5 interlocking rings to 5 overlapping cookies – Cookie Dough, Golden Chocolate, Berry, Mint and Peanut Butter. Olympic hockey pucks and curling stones now have a horizontal stripe down their center representing their countries unique flavor.
Pop Culture slang makes an Oreo-inspired shift that previous generations cant fully grasp or use authentically. Cool = Oreo, Lame = Hydrox, Happy = Mint, Sad = Lemon.
Scientists agree to replace Pi with Oreo as an expression of the mathematical constant of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
Apple introduces the iReo, a circular, multi-sensory device that monitors your bio-rhythms, your personal data and your music. It also lets you take 1080i holo-video and lets you play Candy Crush. Which has been renamed Oreo Crush.
Look, I don’t know how far this goes. I’m just saying that I don’t know where the boundaries of Oreo are anymore. I don’t know if there are any. Should there be? I don’t know that either. Clearly, in a world where Golden Oreo Ice Cream Rainbow Sure, Bert! cookies exists, that decision is not up to me. In a world where I just used 1,000 words to turn a cookie into a iPhone, there’s only one thing that’s certain:
Double Stuf Oreos are better than regular Oreos. The cookie/creme ratio is better, plain and simple and that’s the truth.