The Oreo Cookie Celebrates 100 Years

Oreo celebrates 100 years

This week marks the 100th birthday of the Oreo Cookie. Originally created and sold in New York by National Biscuit Company, the brand is now owned by mega-processed-food giant Kraft Foods. The brand tagline is “Milk’s Favorite Cookie,” and indeed Oreos have become an American icon.

Nutritionally, there are no benefits one would expect from a cookie, so the question usually boils down to what bad things are in it?

Here’s a look at the standard original version of the cookie.

What you need to know:

A serving size is 3 cookies and costs you 160 calories. That 3 cookie serving always seems conspicuously low. Even a 5 year old eats more than that!

Here is the ingredient list:

Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), High Oleic Canola Oil and/or Palm Oil and/or Canola Oil and/or Soybean Oil, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin – an Artificial Flavor, Chocolate. 

It’s actually a pretty simple formula – the perfect combination of the cheapest most palatable ingredients to be found – sugars, oil, flour, and flavorings. The flour has been stripped of nutrients and fiber. The sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup add up to about a teaspoon of sugars per cookie. The list of vegetable oils is basically a reflection of commodity price fluctuations. Any oil goes, depends what was cheaper to buy on the day your batch was made. Vanillin is a cheap way to get the aroma and flavor of the real thing – vanilla.

By the way, a standard Oreo is 71% chocolate wafer, 29% creme.

Although an Oreo is not a health food, of the cookies out there, it is actually one of the less evil choices. Many other cookies still use partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), contain artificial colors, and use questionable preservatives.

Bottom line: If you can manage to keep this to a once-in-a-while treat and stick to the 3 cookies serving size, don’t be so hard on yourself for breaking out of what is a normally healthy diet.

What to do at the supermarket:

When buying cookies and snacks, look at the ingredient list for unwanted stuff such as partially hydrogenated oil, artificial colors, or questionable preservatives. Look at the calorie count in conjunction with the serving size and try to assess if it equals the portion size you plan on eating.

Stick to classic Oreos to avoid artificial colors and avoid extra stuffing versions that pile on unneeded sugar. If  you want to avoid HFCS or vanillin, try other branded O cookies.


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  • dubturbo

    Congratulations Oreo cookie on 100 years birthday!! I love to eat this cookie because it’s nutritional, beneficial for health! Thanks

  • Nvonseekamm

    Wow!  100 years.  I bet the original was much healthier than the ones made today.  Lets go back to a time when we could pronounce all the ingredients on the label.  The world would be a better place for all of us!

  • EVIL food scientist

    “Although an Oreo is not a health food, of the cookies out there, it is actually one of the less evil choices”
    And that’s why I picked the username I have for this site!
    Cookies aren’t EVIL, they are “treats” or “indulgences”.  You have a cookie every once in a bit in addition to your wad of kale, tofu, and brown rice and whatever else we are approved to eat.

  • Food Scientist

    There is nothing wrong with synthetic vanillin; it’s simply cheaper and easier to obtain than natural vanillin.  Even natural vanillin is solvent extracted.

  • Frugaldieitian

    Not much different than the cookies Who-Nu? (Claims to be healthy or at least healthier).

  • Daniela S

    Always thought of oreos to be one of the more “dangerous” indulgence foods. Interesting read, thanks.

    Not sure where to ask this, so i thought i’d pop it in here. I bought this sauce at the market the other day and wanted to know your opinion on it… seems much healthier than prego/ragu. It’s called “wolfgang puck 100% natural sauce” tomato basil. 

    • Dfrisicaro2

      The sauce gets a B rating. Download the fooducate app OR google search fooducate and type in the Wolfgang puck sauce. You can also look at other sauces to see how this one compares to others.

      • Daniela S

        Thanks so much!

  • Anonymous

    I am so grossed out by that label! Good thing I NEVER EVER liked Oreos (far too chocolatey for me)… and good thing I haven’t eaten anything like that in about 10 years! Phew! 

  • Jim

    Vanillin is surely harmless, and you know that HFCS is, too, so why mention it?

  • Mir

    Lol, who even likes the flavored or double stuf versions? What I do is carefully open the cookie, peel out the creme as a small disc and stack them all on top of each other then put it in between two cookies at the end and try to make someone else eat it. :D
    So, regardlless of healthiness, would oreos be considered a vegan food?

  • Lanamichellez

    Surprised you didn’t mention anything about the canola and soybean oils. Corn, canola, soy & cotton are amongst the highest in terms of being GMO. So if any of those are not labeled organic or non-GMO then you can pretty much guarantee that they are genetically modified.

  • Pam

    As far as healthy spaghetti sauce, make your own! Better Homes & Garden Cookbook ( the red check cookbook been around for years!!) has a great tasting
    one. The recipe is easy & you probably have all the ingredients on hand! Try it! You’ll like it!

  • Elisa

    What about the reduced fat oreo?