Iconic American Cookie Tastes Different Overseas

Oreo is the world's biggest selling cookie earning about $1.5 billion dollars annually. The brand was first baked in New York City and has been around for nearly 100 years (March 6, 2012 is its official birthday). While the first variation of the chocolate sandwich biscuit wasn't even introduced in the United States until 1974 when Nabisco unveiled the plump and creamy "Double Stuf" version, Oreos around the world taste-and look-very different from the original.

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Kraft Foods' (who own Nabisco) big awakening about local preferences came in 1996 when they launched the cookie in China. It was too sweet for the Chinese palate and too big--and it flopped. The large packages were also too expensive. Instead of pulling out, Kraft sent researchers into Chinese consumers' homes to find out what flavors they liked and how and when they served cookies. They even marketed the biscuit using bicycles with wheels made to resemble Oreos.

One of the results was Green Tea Ice Cream flavored Oreos packaged so the box could be displayed in people's sitting rooms and offered to guests. Kraft also created wafer rolls, which you can use as a straw for milk, wafer sticks, and square biscuits. The bet paid off. Oreo is now China's top-selling cookie.

Lisa Gibbons, spokesperson for Kraft calls their marketing approach "glocal." They market globally but chose flavors locally. Indonesians love Blueberry Ice Cream and Orange Ice Cream Oreos. In Mexico, they prefer Dark Fudge, White Fudge, and Cookies and Crème flavored filling. A Japanese favorite is called "Ice Flavor" which is actually lemon.

In Argentina, eating sweets is practically a national pastime, and a confection called the "alfajor," a sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche and covered in chocolate, is munched in cafes and sold in shops all over the country. There is now an Oreo Alfajor. Another favorite has a "duo" center of half banana and half dulce de leche-flavored cream. A triple layer Oreo developed for the Argentine market was introduced back into the United States as the whopping Triple Double Oreo.

The slogan "twist, lick, and dunk" is one thing that doesn't change internationally. Kraft sees the way people eat Oreos as an essential part of the experience. According to Gibbons, at least half of Oreo-eaters pull apart their sandwich cookies. The first advertisement featuring the "twist" appeared on the side of a trolley car back in 1923.

How do you eat your Oreo cookie? Please let us know in the comments below.

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