BraveTart by Stella Parks

BraveTart by Stella Parks

Author:Stella Parks
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 2017-12-26T05:00:00+00:00

Classic Oreo® cookies, with a familiar laurel design.

A decent PR team could have turned things around, but Sunshine’s advertisements took a weird, curmudgeonly tone. From 1915 to 1965, Hydrox seemed hell-bent on exposing Oreo as a impostor, even going so far as advertising a tiny bear cub literally crying over stolen cookies.21 They relentlessly billed Hydrox as the “first,” the “finest,” the “original,” the “only,” and the “classic,” shaking a finger at America: “Don’t be fooled by look-alikes!”22

They might as well have told Oreos to get off their lawn. That cranky campaign did nothing to win anyone’s heart. Consumers wanted a tasty treat, and Oreo offered exactly that, with happy, colorful advertisements about crisp, chocolatey sandwich cookies crammed with more filling than any other brand.23 Nabisco had the stamina and financial resources to sell Oreos at a loss. In the mid-1950s, the rope-a-dope strategy paid off when Nabisco sprang into action with a completely redesigned cookie and a snazzy campaign for “new Oreos.”24 Simultaneously, they jacked up the price—reverse psychology at its finest. Americans didn’t flock to the suddenly affordable Hydrox, they shunned it as cheap in every sense of the word—the kind of low-budget, fuddy-duddy knockoff favored by penny-pinching grandpas. Indeed, by the 1960s grandpas were just about the only ones who could remember the glory days of Hydrox.25

The lights went out at Sunshine shortly thereafter, and the Hydrox brand bounced around the industry like a third-string baseball player, first sold to the American Tobacco Company, then resold to G.F. Industries, Keebler, and later Kellogg’s, which formally pulled the plug. In something straight out of a Greek tragedy, Kellogg’s returned Hydrox to production for the sole purpose of crushing them into bits for the wholesale market, supplying manufacturers who can’t afford a license from Oreo. With Hydrox dead and buried in off-brand ice cream, Oreo celebrated its hundredth birthday as the uncontested king of cookies.

If opposites attract, Oreos generate a force nothing short of gravitational. Black and white. Creamy and crunchy. Bitter and sweet. Chocolate and Vanilla. Recent years have sadly added “natural and artificial” to the list, but we can make like Jacob Loose and reclaim what’s been lost by striking out on our own.

My homemade version of Oreo® is a remarkably simple recipe and you don’t have to seek out any special sort of “black” cocoa to duplicate the Oreo’s inky color. All you need is Dutch cocoa and baking soda, which create an alkaline dough that darkens to a gorgeous chocolate black in the oven. The wafers are crisp, intensely chocolate, and just a little bitter to balance the sweet and creamy filling inside.


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