OREO Cookie - Portrait - © 2011 OREO

What the Stuf? One Of Life’s Mysteries Demystified

I’m fairly often asked what’s in OREO creme that makes it so darned good. There are two answers, each of which is equally hard to stomach. One is the commercial formula. The other is a top-rated home-hack version OREO lovers endorse…

ALL-Stuf Oreos - © @AdamPadillaOne creative fan went so far as to fake up an ultimate ‘ALL-Stuf’ OREO for April Fool’s
day. Responses to his social media account post ranged from raves to rants!

The are abundant jokes about OREOs fans who insist that they’d eat the creme filling off a spoon. If they could get it pre-scraped-off the chocolate wafers. I used to agree that the creme is the sensual centre of the OREOs experience. I’d eat it by the spoon and gladly set the wafers aside to crush for cream pie crusts.

But the whole thing came to a head when a crazy fan announced (as an April Fool’s joke) that the ultimate OREO was on the way: ALL Stuf! The comments to his social media post ranged from raves to rants!

I’d have jumped on the bandwagon – until yesterday, when I finally Googled up the recipe for genuine OREO Stuf.

According to The Daily Meal:

“Oreo’s ‘creme’ is hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, and vanillin. Each of those comes with some concerns. Hydrogenated vegetable oil has been associated with several adverse side effects according to Healthline. High fructose corn syrup’s bad reputation is well documented (via the Cleveland Clinic).

“Soy lecithin is an emulsifier that’s in many foods. According to Harvard Medical School, soy products should be eaten in moderation. Especially, the more processed forms that can produce more adverse effects. Vanillin is an artificial flavor derived from wood and petrochemicals (via Scientific American). While that sounds scary, according to America’s Test Kitchen many cooks prefer vanillin to genuine vanilla.”

Is there any real food in there? It’s all food processing industry substitute ingredients, as far as I can see. And that makes OREOs one of the most popular ultra-processed foods on the market. Nevertheless, COVID or no COVID, inflation or no inflation, the OREO remains a runaway leader in the commercial confection market.

The numbers don’t lie

The OREO brand is owned by Mondelez International, the Swiss confection conglomerate that also owns dozens of other familiar brands and racks up the biggest profits in its sector in the world year after year.

“Oreo continues to ‘wow’ with its growth,” wrote European industry obseerver Stifel after Mondelez announced its third-quarter results. “That level of growth would push the sales of Oreo over $4 billion globally,” analysts noted.

There IS competition out there

OREO has two main competitors out there: Hydrox and Newman-Os. Hydrox actually came first, with very similar vanilla creme and chocolate wafers. But OREO out-promoted it and shot ahead in consumer preference with a sweeter overall flavour profile and crumblier wafers.

(Newman-Os are OREO copycats sold by Paul Newman’s food company, profits from which go to charity. The Newman’s label specializes is clones of famous food products from all sectors. The fact that Newman’s hasn’t been sued into oblivion by the big players whose brands they have appropriated just shows that the big guys do have heart when it comes to charity. And they don’t really see Newman’s clones as a serious threat.)

OREO copycat recipes are everywhere

Google ‘OREO copycat’ and you’ll gt back literally millions of returns, all offering their own take on versions of OREO creme you can make at home.

Food.com offers one simple simple recipe that gets top reviews. At least one of the ingredients will surprise you, though it’s not something from the lab that would also shock you. I refer to unflavoured gelatine, which contributes a classic OREO texture to the creme. Without the gelatine, the copy-cat filling would just be another blob of butter-cream.

Also, the recipe calls for vegetable shortening – quite a lot, actually. If you want, you can amp up the luxury quotient by replacing some or all of the shortening with butter.

My take

Even the ‘real ingredients’ copy-cat recipe is pretty rich. Which is to say, jam-packed with calories and sugars and fats most of us would just as soon avoid. But for a treat now and then, mixing up a small batch and eating it commando-style – off a spoon – won’t kill you…

~ Maggie J.