From Time Magazine:
The world’s best-selling cookies are celebrating their 100th birthday. On March 6, 1912, the National Biscuit Company (also known as Nabisco) sold its first Oreo sandwich cookies to a Hoboken grocer. Billions of dollars and many obscure varieties later, today Oreos remain an iconic snack-time staple. We twist them, we dunk them, we love them. But just how much do we know about them?
The name is a mystery. No one can confirm the true origin of the word “Oreo.” Some believe it was derived from the French word for gold, “or,” because its original packaging was mostly gold. Others have offered the hypothesis that it comes from the Greek word for mountain, perhaps because the test version of the cookie had a hill-like shape.
71% to 29% is the cookie-to-creme ratio of an original Oreo cookie.
The Oreo became kosher in 1998. All Oreo packing now bears a symbol, just above the package weight, verifying it as a kosher food. Hydrox cookies had long been a common kosher alternative, but, because not-as-tasty sort-of Oreos weren’t super lucrative, they were discontinued in 2003.
381. That’s the approximate number of times all the Oreos ever manufactured could circle the Earth if lined up end to end along the equator. Stacked, they could reach the moon and back more than five times.
The original recipe called for pork fat. (Hence the kosher problems.) That’s right, lard was once a key ingredient in that delicious creme filling.
Two versions debuted in 1912. The options were original and lemon meringue. The original was far more popular, and Nabisco discontinued lemon meringue in the 1920s.
They’re sold in more than 100 countries. In terms of sales, the top five are the U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia. In some countries, like China, Nabisco’s parent company, Kraft, reformulated the recipe to appeal to consumers.
Limited-edition birthday cake Oreos were released to celebrate the centennial. The cookies feature cake-flavored filling and sprinkles. Other varieties over the years have included “triple double” Oreos, green tea Oreos, blueberry ice cream Oreos, dulce de leche Oreos, and organic Oreos.
450 billion. That’s how many Oreo cookies have been sold worldwide since they hit the market in 1912.