Hydrox cookies are coming back! At least for a little while.
The sandwich-creme cookies that actually preceded Oreos will return in late August for a limited time on its 100th anniversary, along with a contest to find the biggest Hydrox fans in the U.S.
The limited-edition, 100th anniversary Hydrox cookies will be out "while supplies last" and follow the original recipe with one exception: There will be no trans fats. (Suggested retail price of $3.14 for a 14 oz. package.) Rumor has it that, if the cookies do especially well, they may be here to stay. Or maybe they'll just become the cookie world's McRib.
Starting on June 30, you can enter a contest sharing stories and photos proving that you love Hydrox more than life itself at Kellogg's Hydrox Web site. The three winners get a six-month supply of Hydrox and a trip for two to New York for a 100th anniversary celebration. They'll also get a chance to attend the closing bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange.
The Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company (later known as Sunshine Biscuit but already putting the Sunshine name on its products) invented Hydrox in 1908, but they were discontinued in 1999 after Sunshine was acquired by Keebler (which was itself taken over by Kellogg in 2001). They were created after a group of Loose-Wiles baking experts went to England to study the biscuit bakeries there and returned with new skills and ideas. Compared to Oreos, the Hydrox supposedly had a creme that was tangy and less sweet, cookies that were stronger and better for dunking, and never contained lard.
The name "Hydrox" came from because Loose-Wiles wanted something to go with the idea of sunshine (Joseph Loose and the Wiles brothers envisioned their business as a sunshine-filled factory), so they thought of how water and sunshine are both associated with purity and cleanliness. Breaking water down into its chemical elements, hydrogen and oxygen, they combined the two for Hydrox.
Oreo cookies, on the other hand, were invented in 1912 with lard-based filling, and sound like the Bizarro Hydrox. Instead of being inspired by British bakers, they were aimed specifically for the British market because British cookies were too "ordinary." Though no one's got the definitive answer, Oreos' name may come from the elements as well, except using the Greek words for "earth" or "mountain" (the cookie was originally "mountain"-shaped) or the French word for "gold" (the original packaging was gold) instead of water. Somewhere along the way, though, maybe because "Hydrox" sounds like a drain cleaner, Oreo became the predominant sandwich cookie in the world, and the natural assumption was that Hydrox was a knockoff.
I don't even remember what Hydrox cookies tasted like. Are they worth all the nostalgia? Do these nostalgia products ever live up to the hype when they're brought back? What other childhood faves do you want to see back on shelves (but perhaps secretly fear won't live up to your expectations)?
Michael Y. Park is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He studied medieval history as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and journalism as a graduate student at New York University. His stories have appeared in publications including The New York Times, the New York Post, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
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