How Do You Solve a Problem Named Hydrox?

Before Oreo, there was a nearly identical cookie on the market. A much-loved cookie with a terrible name.

clip art style chocolate sandwich cookie with vanilla cream and a bite taken out of it against a reddish wine colored papery background
Credit: Shutterstock/Elah Feder

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The first Oreo rolled out of Chelsea Market in Manhattan in 1912, but despite the cookie’s popularity today, Oreos weren’t an immediate cookie smash hit. In fact, there was already another cookie on the block that looked remarkably similar to Oreos: two chocolate wafers embossed with laurel leaves, and white cream in the center. This cookie was widely loved, made with the highest quality ingredients, and saddled with a curious name: Hydrox.

So how did a cookie get a name so bad? Producer Alexa Lim takes us all the way back to the early 1900s, and brings us a story of the rise – and the crumble – of a cookie named Hydrox.

Guests:

Carolyn Burns is the owner of The Insight Connection, and a former marketing director for Keebler.

Stella Parks is a pastry chef and the author of Brave Tart: Iconic American Desserts.

Ellia Kassoff is the CEO of Leaf Brands.

Footnotes & Further Reading:

For more Hydrox history, check out Brave Tart by Stella Parks.

Can’t get enough Hydrox? This is a fun website. 

Credits:

This episode of Science Diction was produced by Alexa Lim, Elah Feder, and Johanna Mayer. Our editor is Elah Feder. Daniel Peterschmidt is our composer and contributed sound design. Fact checking by Danya AbdelHameid. Chris Wood mastered the episode. Our Chief Content Officer is Nadja Oertelt.

Meet the Writers

About Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is the host of Science Diction from Science Friday. When she’s not working, she’s probably baking a fruit pie. Cherry’s her specialty, but she whips up a mean rhubarb streusel as well.

About Elah Feder

Elah Feder is a podcast development producer for Science Friday. She co-hosted and produced the Undiscovered podcast. She’s also Science Friday’s resident Canadian.

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

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