HT to Mark for this link.
Some of you are too young to remember Hydrox cookies. Some of you remember them, but are under the impression (as many are) that Hydrox cookies were a cheap knock-off of Nabisco’s Oreo.
Sunshine Biscuits introduced Hydrox in 1908, four years before Sunshine’s Rival, the National Biscuit Company (later N.B.C. and finally Nabisco) introduced their knockoff of Hydrox, the Oreo cookie. Let’s keep the facts straight. Hydrox is the original: Oreo was the knockoff.
The article says that Hydrox was “the cookie for nonconformists.” Not necessarily. Perhaps it was just the cookie for the more discriminating. American tastes are notoriously funny when it comes to foods and other products: think Wonder Bread or Maxwell House Coffee. Those things would never make it in other countries. (Yes General Foods sells a “Maxwell House” coffee in Europe, but it’s what they call Gevalia Kaffe here in the States. The American formulation of Maxwell House would never make it in Europe, because it tastes terrible when compared to European coffees.) Could the ascendancy of Oreo simply be an indication of Americans’ preference for mass-produced mediocrity?
Here’s why I preferred Hydrox:
- The chocolate in Hydrox was better. Even Andy Rooney pointed this out on 60 Minutes once. It really is. The cookie part of an Oreo is sweeter, but it doesn’t taste like chocolate. The cookie part of an Oreo tastes burnt. You can tell by looking at a Hydrox that it is not going to taste burnt. It is dark brown. An Oreo is black. Chocolate should not be black. Dark, dark brown, sure, but not black.
- Hydrox had a fondant filling that had flavor. Oreo’s filling has no flavor other than sweet. And just like the cookie part, the filling of an Oreo is sweeter than the filling of a Hydrox. Too sweet for me. Sometimes less is more.
- The filling of an Oreo used to be lard and sugar and assorted preservatives. Sure, now they can boast “no trans fat,” and Oreos do now have an OU hechsher on them, but for most of my life (and for most of Oreo’s existence) it contained tons of animal fat, and pig fat at that. Even if you don’t keep kosher (and I don’t): pig fat does not belong in a cookie. Eww. Hydrox never contained animal fat, and always bore a hechsher on the package (as did all of their cookies).
- Oreo eclipsed Hydrox in sales years ago because Nabisco was bigger and had a bigger advertising budget; therefore, they were able to make Oreo into a household name. The knockoff eclipsing the original is not a story that I like.
- I pretty much preferred all Sunshine cookies to Nabisco cookies, mainly because of the no-pig-fat thing. The only exception: I did prefer Nabisco’s Fig Newtons to Sunsine Fig Bars. But Sunshine’s Hi-Hos were better–and less greasy!–than Nabisco’s Ritz (probably, again, because of the no-pig-fat thing), Chip-A-Roos were better than Chips Ahoy (but homemade was better than both), and Sunshine Vanilla Wafers were better than Nabisco “Nilla” wafers because they actually contained real vanilla. And Sunshine made the late, great Lemon Coolers, for which there has never been, nor will there ever be, a replacement–although this recipe is an acceptable homemade approximation. (The Girl Scouts used to sell Lemon Coolers too, because Little Brownie Bakers is owned by the same company that owns Sunshine, but alas no Girl Scout Lemon Coolers this year.)
The article says that Hydrox will only be available “for a limited time” starting in August. Kellogg’s (the current owner of Sunshine and Keebler) is re-introducing them now because this is the 100th anniversary of Hydrox. Here’s hoping they will do well enough to stay on the market for good.