The Oreo Cookie Tasting

17 Sep 2016

While migrating saved blog posts in 2020, I came across this one; it is not currently on my old Blogger blog and I’m not sure if it ever was.

For this evening’s entertainment we had an Oreo cookie tasting. We don’t eat a lot of mainstream junk food but decided to try them.

We tasted the following varieties:

The chocolate cookies were disappointing. The filling is light brown but it tastes like vanilla mildly flavored with cocoa powder. A quick look at the ingredients confirm that cocoa powder is the main flavoring in the filling and actual chocolate is at the very end of the ingredient list (after vanillin).

The birthday cake cookies made me want to gag as soon as we opened the bag — it gives off a very strong smell of artificial icing, the kind you get on grocery-store sheet cakes, made with (essentially) crisco with artificial butter flavoring. It had the same kind of unpleasant lingering mouth feel as birthday cake ice cream, but less flavor. The little multi-colored sprinkle additions didn’t add any noticeable flavor or texture at all.

The red velvet cake cookies were interesting because the cookies themselves are reddish-tan in color and there is a mild scent of some spices, like a bit of nutmeg and allspice. The filling flavor is a little bit reminiscent of cream cheese. They are not too sweet and not offensive, but it would have been much tastier if the cookie part had been much more strongly flavored with spices.

The cinnamon roll cookies were the surprise hit. I was prepared for a horrible artificial smell but they smell very good right out of the box. Of course the butter scent and flavor are artificial, but are pretty convincing. They are not as sweet as you might fear — the filling is much less sweet than Cinnabon icing. The cinnamon flavor in the cookies is quite nice and the filling captures that slightly gritty but realistic feel of confectioner’s sugar and butter. These were the best ones and I would get these again.

Before tasting the Swedish Fish cookies, Grace and I each ate a Swedish Fish candy and tried to figure out what their actual flavor is. Grace thinks the flavor was supposed to be an artificial lingonberry flavor. It could be. It’s a little like fake cherry, but with a note of orange sherbet or baby aspirin. The cookie filling definitely does taste like Swedish Fish candy, while the cookies themselves are, I think, just the usual Oreo cookies. I think these would be a lot better if they made the filling much more tart. As it is, it’s just this bland Oreo filling except it vaguely reminds you of those gummi fish.

The lemon thins cookies have a very nice aroma and texture. Because they have less filling and the cookies are thin, they seem crispier. So they are nice to chew up. The actual flavor was so mild that I hardly noticed they had any lemon flavor. Again I think a version that was actually sour inside like lemon meringue or key lime filling would be much better, but it seems like the whole Oreo tradition is to use very mild filling flavors and cookie flavors, even though the traditional Oreo cookie itself has a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor.

This may have something to do with not wanting to interfere with the traditional flavor that the Oreo “brand” evokes while still wanting to sell all these novelty varieties. You can almost imagine the conversations at the brainstorming meetings about brand this and perception that…

And finally, the pumpkin spice cookies. The color is immediately off-putting: the orange of the filling is dark, not quite the color of canned pumpkin pie filling but almost the same, with brown cookies. The flavor of the pumpkin spices is not offensive, but very mild. What is really odd is that the filling seems thinner in consistency than the regular filling, and seems to squish like pumpkin pie filling. It’s almost like they made the filling have the texture and color of pumpkin pie filling but without much of the flavor. The filling is a little oily and the color in it seeps into the lighter-colored cookies, leaving them with gross-looking brown stains, right out of the bag. So these aren’t bad but I didn’t want to eat more than one. Ever. For the rest of my life.

The clear winner was the cinnamon roll Oreos. I wouldn’t buy any of the other varieties again.

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