Nabisco, originally known as the National Biscuit Country, introduced the Oreo biscuit on March 6, 1912. Although Hydrox cookies were invented two years earlier, Oreos would become the most popular cookie of the 20th century. This classic cookie continues to be an American favorite nearly 100 years after it was introduced.
In 1912 Oreos were one of three new cookies or “biscuits” that Nabisco called “The Trio.” The other two cookies, Mother Goose Biscuits and the Veronese Biscuit, were single-layer cookies without a cream filling. Oreos proved to be the only cookie in The Trio with staying power.
What’s In a Name
Nabisco’s advertising department came up with the name Oreo. While the exact origin is not known, it could refer to the Greek word oreo, which means hill or mountain. During the testing phase Oreos were supposedly slightly mounded, resembling a small hill. Another theory claims the name is a derivation of the French word for gold, the color of the first Oreo package. In 1913, the official name was Oreo Biscuit. In 1921 the name was changed to Oreo Sandwich, followed by Oreo Cream Sandwich in 1948 and Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies in 1975.
The original Oreos were identical to today’s version, except they were slightly larger. Over the years, Oreos have shrunk and grown. Today’s size is in between the largest and the smallest versions. The cookies are stamped by brass rollers with their name and a design of four-leafed clovers.
In 1922, Oreos sold for 32 cents per pound. As of 2014, an 18-ounce package costs approximately $4.29. Despite the price increase, Americans still eat almost 12 billion Oreos every year.
Over the years Nabisco has developed several other Oreo products. In the 1920s, Nabisco introduced a lemon-filled Oreo. The company deliberately misspelled Double Stuf, featuring twice as much cream filling as the original Oreo, and this appeared in 1975. Golden Oreos are vanilla cookies with the same vanilla frosting as the original Oreos. Golden Chocolate Creme Oreos, known as the “Uh-Oh Oreo” until 2007, are the reverse of the original cookie — vanilla cookies with chocolate cream frosting.
Today, Oreos are also available in a snack cake called Oreo Cakesters, miniature bite-sized cookies, Fun Stix in a tube shape, 100-calorie snack packs and a variety of ice cream novelties. Seasonal colored fillings are available in orange for Halloween, red for Christmas and pastel shades for Easter. You can also buy Oreo pie crusts.