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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 100th Birthday of the Oreo

Today marks the centennial of one of the greatest confectionery successes of all time: the Oreo cookie, which was invented in New York City in 1912.

As we write in Inside the Apple:

The year 1898 saw two mergers that shaped the rest of the 20th century: the unification of the five boroughs of New York City, and the merger of the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company and the New York Biscuit Company into the National Biscuit Company—Nabisco. In 1906, the company moved its national headquarters to the New York Biscuit company’s factory between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in West Chelsea, having recently introduced two bestsellers: the Uneeda Biscuit and Barnum’s Animal Crackers, which were not endorsed or authorized by the circus. In 1912, the factory created its most famous confection, a disc-shaped, cream-filled cookie dubbed the Oreo. No one at Nabisco knows where the name came from, though etymologists have suggested everything from or (French for gold, and perhaps a reference to the fact that the cookie originally also came in a lemon meringue flavor) to the Greek oreos for mountain (because early cookies had a mound of filling). Some have even suggested that the “re” in the middle is the cREam and the “o” on either side is the chOcolate, but that seems like wishful thinking. Perhaps the simplest explanation is correct: Oreo just sounded like a good name for a cookie. To date, close to 500 million Oreos have been sold, making it the most popular cookie in the U.S.
The Nabisco factory where the Oreo was born is now Chelsea Market, which features food stores, boutiques, and our favorite TV station, NY1. Soon after the Oreo's introduction, Nabisco expanded its bakery across Tenth Avenue, using the freight railroad there to ship millions of cookies. That freight line is now the High Line, one of New York's most celebrated outdoor green spaces.
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Read more about Nabisco, the Oreo,
and Chelsea in Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City.

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