The best-selling cookie in the world is a copycat brand | CBC Radio (2024)

Under the Influence

This copycat cookie overtook the original to become the world's chocolatey, biscuity favourite. And it's probably in your pantry today.

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The best-selling cookie in the world is a copycat brand | CBC Radio (1)

The best-selling cookie in the world is a copycat brand | CBC Radio (2)

Under the Influence27:26Copycat Brands

Oreo is the best-selling cookie in the world.

It is now sold in over 100 countries.

Oreo was first produced in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, now known as Na-Bis-Co. But did you know Oreos are a copycat product?

Four years earlier, in 1908, another cookie was launched. It was two chocolate biscuits with a sweet vanilla crème in the centre. That cookie was called Hydrox. And it was the result of a rift between two brothers who ran rival bakery companies.

Back in the 1890s, brothers Joseph and Jacob Loose opened a bakery together in Kansas City, Missouri. It was very successful, and Jacob, who had a knack for business, knew that in order to grow they would have to merge with other bakeries. Through several acquisitions, Jacob created the American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company. This new business was now the second-largest bakery in the country at the time.

For the next seven years, their company fought other big bakery corporations in what seemed like a race-to-the-bottom price war. It was grueling work, and the pressure and strain caused Jacob's health to suffer. To recuperate, he moved to Europe, and his brother Joseph took over temporarily.

Joseph believed the only way to win the price war was to merge with two other rival bakeries and create an even bigger company. Jacob disagreed strongly, and wrote letters from his sickbed urging Joseph not to merge. But there wasn't much he could do from so far away, so brother Joseph went ahead with the mergers and created the National Biscuit Company.

Once Jacob recovered, he returned home and started his own company, called the Sunshine Bakery. Ten years later, it was the one of the largest bakeries in the nation, second only to his brother's company, Nabisco. Even though Jacob's bakery was smaller, it had a winning cookie the country loved. It was two beautifully-embossed chocolate wafers with a sweet vanilla filling in the centre. They called it Hydrox.

While that name sounds more like a household cleanser today, that wasn't the case in 1908. Back in the early 1900s, people had become increasingly concerned about the purity of food. So the government cracked down and passed a food purity law. The Sunshine Bakery always advertised that they used the highest-quality ingredients. So when it came time to brand their new cookie, they wanted a name that suggested purity. And what was more pure than water?

So they created a brand name from the words hydrogen and oxygen – the two chemicals that make up water. Hydrox.

Four years later, rival Nabisco come out with a new cookie. It was two beautifully-embossed chocolate wafers with a sweet vanilla filling in the centre. They called it Oreo. And positioned it directly against Hydrox. Interestingly, the Oreo couldn't compete with the success of Hydrox. Oreo was priced cheaper, and was considered a copycat cookie. Hydrox was the clear favourite of cookie lovers everywhere.

The brothers battled it out until the early 1920s, when they died one year apart. Jacob had the best-selling cookie, Joseph had the bigger company.

Over the years, Nabisco grew to become a massive corporation, with powerful marketing and distribution departments. It decided to put millions of dollars behind the marketing of the Oreo. In the 1950s, Oreo was relaunched at a higher price point, which made Oreo seem like the premium choice.

It became a rivalry like co*ke versus Pepsi, the Beatles versus the Stones. But Hydrox couldn't compete with Nabisco's marketing muscle. Soon, the cookie began losing market share, and the public began thinking that Hydrox was a generic Oreo knock-off. Even though Hydrox was the original.

With sales continuing to fall, Hydrox cookies were finally pulled from the market in 2003. 12 years later, a company called Leaf Brands decided to resuscitate Hydrox. And in 2015, original-recipe Hydrox cookies reappeared on grocery store shelves. By that time, Oreo was generating sales of $660 million annually. It was the best-selling cookie in the world, and was marketed as "milk's favourite cookie." But sure enough, the feud re-ignited.

In 2018, Leaf Brands filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing Oreo of sabotaging Hydrox cookies in grocery stores. Oreo, now owned by snack food giant Mondelez, has a direct-to-store distribution model, where employees of Oreo stock the grocery store shelves themselves. Leaf Brands maintained Oreo employees were using that access to hide Hydrox cookies by blocking or moving them to undesirable shelf positions.

Mondelez has denied the claim. Leaf Brands is seeking $800 million in damages.

And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

For more stories about Copycat Brands, click or tap the play button above to hear the full Under the Influence episode. Find more episodes on the CBC Listen app or subscribe to the podcast.

The best-selling cookie in the world is a copycat brand | CBC Radio (2024)

FAQs

The best-selling cookie in the world is a copycat brand | CBC Radio? ›

Oreo was first produced in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, now known as Na-Bis-Co. But did you know Oreos are a copycat product? Four years earlier, in 1908, another cookie was launched. It was two chocolate biscuits with a sweet vanilla crème in the centre.

What is the number one selling cookie in the world? ›

The best-selling cookie in the world is none other than the Oreo. This iconic sandwich cookie has been delighting consumers since its introduction in 1912. With its classic combination of two chocolate wafers and a sweet, creamy filling, the Oreo has become a beloved treat for people of all ages.

How much did Hydrox sue Oreo for? ›

Kassoff has expressed concern about Mondelēz's before. Upset with the Chicago-based company's efforts to diminish his brand's presence in the competitive cookie aisle, he filed an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2018 seeking $800 million in damages.

Did Oreo copy Hydrox? ›

Oreo was created in 1912 as an imitation of Hydrox. Oreo eventually surpassed Hydrox in popularity, which resulted in the Hydrox cookies being perceived by many as an Oreo off-brand, despite the opposite being the case.

What is the best-selling cookie in the US that is made by Nabisco? ›

The "Oreo Biscuit" was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) in 1912 at its Chelsea, New York City factory in the present-day Chelsea Market complex, located on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets.

What is the #1 cookie in the United States? ›

The chocolate chip cookie is far and away America's favorite cookie This should come as no surprise to anyone who enjoys the tasty treat. More than 53% of American adults prefer the cookies over the next most popular kind, peanut butter.

Is Hydrox still sold? ›

Yet Oreo's dominance is unparalleled, accounting for roughly 10% of all cookies purchased in the US. Nabisco, the maker of Oreo (and a subsidiary of Mondelez Inc.), commands nearly 40% of the cookie market. Hydrox, meanwhile, was discontinued in 2003.

Is Hydrox better than Oreo? ›

Oreos are slightly sweeter. And the Hydrox chocolate biscuits are a little harder, standing up to a milk dunk a little better. But the biggest difference between Oreos and Hydrox was that Oreos had a better name and Nabisco marketed the heck out of them.

Why did Hydrox go out of business? ›

“There were probably associations that you and I as consumers didn't like about the brand.” Kassoff said it was sales and marketing decisions, not the product, that led to Hydrox's demise. “The misconception about resurrecting brands is, 'Oh, these brands must have died because nobody wanted them anymore,'” he said.

Who owns Oreo? ›

Mondelez owns the Cadbury and Toblerone chocolate brands as well as Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies, Triscuit crackers and Perfect Snacks nutrition bars.

How old is Oreo? ›

Introduced: 1912

First introduced in the U.S. in 1912, Oreo has become the world's top selling cookie and is enjoyed in more than 100 countries. In markets around the world, Oreo comes in surprising local flavors, like blueberry and green tea ice cream, and fun shapes and forms.

What cookie did Nabisco discontinue? ›

Earlier this year, Nabisco discontinued its Famous Chocolate Wafers, one year short of the cookie's 100th anniversary. Makers of icebox cakes and chocolate crusts were incensed, and you know what happens when a bunch of bakers get outraged? They riot in the streets!

What is the most bought cookie? ›

Oreo is the best-selling cookie in the world. It is now sold in over 100 countries. Oreo was first produced in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, now known as Na-Bis-Co.

Is Nabisco a Mexican brand? ›

Nabisco (/nəˈbɪskoʊ/, abbreviated from the earlier name National Biscuit Company) is an American manufacturer of cookies and snacks headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey. The company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Mondelēz International. Chips Ahoy!

What are the top 5 favorite cookies? ›

Some of the most popular cookie flavors include:
  • Chocolate chip.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Peanut butter blossoms.
  • Double chocolate chip.
  • Snickerdoodle.
  • Sugar.
  • Shortbread.
  • Pumpkin.

What is the number 1 selling Girl Scout cookie? ›

The best-selling Girl Scout Cookies are: Thin Mints® Caramel deLites®/Samoas®

Is Oreo number 1 cookie? ›

Magic happened on March 6, 1912 when two decoratively embossed chocolate-flavored wafers met up with a rich crème filling. Today, Oreo is the world's top selling cookie.

What is the biggest cookie business? ›

Top Companies in United States Cookies Market
  • General Mills Inc.
  • Mondelēz International.
  • Ferrero Group.
  • Mckee Foods Corporation.
  • The Campbell Soup Company.

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