Symbols the secret to Oreo cookies success
Oreo cookies were born in New York City in 1912 when a few bakeries combined to form the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) and opened a factory in the Chelsea Market building on 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th St -now called “Oreo Way.”
The first prototype of the cookie looked like a baseball mound or hill and the assumption is that Oreo’s got their name from the Greek word “oros” which means “mountain or hill” though it could also be from the Greek word “oraio” which means good and beautiful. Makes you think if there was a Greek ad man at Nabisco then.
After a variety of test runs, Oreo became the “Oreo Biscuit–two beautifully embossed chocolate-flavored wafers with a rich cream filling at 30 cents per pound,” then Oreo Sandwich and finally Oreo Creme Sandwich.
The design on the chocolate wafers was originally stamped out on brass rollers depicting a series of four-leaf clovers around the word Oreo which was surround by a circle with an antenna. In the early 1950’s the four-leaf clovers were changed to a more graceful garland of petals, though some four-leaf clovers are still apparent. The ridges around the cookie weren’t only for the design value but also to help grasp the cookie when dunking.
No one can argue that symbols can powerfully drive our activities and influence our subconscious. Symbols act as a sort of short-hand that triggers (through association) our subconscious and eventually our thought process, feelings and actions. The crosses, the swastika, the yin-yang symbol all drive human activity with their visual impact.
Oreo’s were embossed with:
An Antenna or Lorraine Cross
And a circle
What do four-leaf clovers symbolize? We can ask a Saint Patrick’s Day fan about Shamrocks, but actually the four-leaf clover goes way back to the Celtic Priests or the Druids who used four-leaf clovers as protection against evil spirits. The reality is that the clover plant doesn’t naturally produce four leaves. So, four-leaf clovers for hundreds of years have symbolized to our mass consciousness a rarity that protects and bestows good luck.
Antennas symbolize communication, broadcasting and reception. Funny coincidence is that “National Biscuit Company” abbreviates to NBC.
Crosses symbolized in pagan times, the four-elements and the power of manifestation in the earthly realm. This particular double cross was called the Lorraine cross and was considered the symbol of Joan of Arc’s crusade.
The circle is a symbol of wholeness and infinity.
The symbolic equation probably linked to Oreo’s success?
“Beauty and Goodness” or “mounds” of plenty surrounded by “infinity and unity” transmitting an earthly manifestation or crusade or receiving “Oreo” (Beauty) from the Great Beyond which bestows garlands of good luck and protection from evil.
That is one powerful symbol on a small round cookie, over 12 billion of which, have been consumed by the world’s population in almost 100 years.
For more info:
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
(originally published on my column on the now closed Examiner.com in June 2009)
Tima Vlasto grew up in New York City and studied at Skidmore College, Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts.
She is a web developer, writer and illustrator.
In 2004, she Illustrated and authored the children’s picture book, “Don’t Feed the Animals” which received honors by the Hellenic Book Club, honorable mention by the National Library of Greece in the Books for Learning category and was a recommended book for ages 4-8 by the Starbuck’s “Commitment to Communities” program in Greece.
The hardcover Greek and English versions sold out in 2008. The book is now available on Kindle on Amazon.com