Chinese Oreos are totally tubular

When Kraft introduced Oreos to China in 1996, it was only moderately successful. They revisited the cookie with a lot of market research and came up with a bunch of different chapes, fillings, colors and recipes, eventually choosing several, providing that they preserved the "Oreo experience" of twisting the cookie apart, licking the frosting and dunking it. They sold it with "emotional advertising" in which children showed their parents the "American way" of eating Oreos and the cookies became a success.

They started to ask other provocative questions.

Why does an Oreo have to be black and white? Davis sent us an Oreo with green tea filling. Another had a bright orange center divided between mango and orange flavor.

And why should an Oreo be round? They developed Oreos shaped like straws. In China, you can buy a long rectangular Oreo wafer, the length of your index finger.

Impossible to twist apart, but Davis points out that it makes it easier to dunk in milk.

Rethinking The Oreo For Chinese Consumers (via Kottke)


  1. You can find a very similar egg and sugary confection everywhere in China usually in red and gold metal boxes, very thin and fragile.
     Now, the chinese can’t make a decent chocolate and maybe that’s the catch, not the tubular form.

  2. As the article says, those straw Oreos are available in Canada too. They’re surprisingly good.

    And Oreo Cakesters are shockingly bad.

    1. “cakesters,” really? jesus, what was your first clue? have you seen the packaging? they make you fat just by reading.

    2. Cakesters are fine (sure, they are a processed baked good but it’s not like you didn’t know that when you bought it.) Way better than, say, Twinkies.

  3. Uh, there are Oreos of different hues in the grocery stores all over America. Green filling for mint. Orange for Halloween. Football shaped for Super Bowl week . Vanilla, which are white and white. I could go on . . .

    1. What if… what if we put the Pocky *inside* the Oreo tube?

      … oh god, be right back, acquiring diabetes.

  4. Interesting that they still focus on the dunking-in-milk angle when marketing in region where most are lactose intolerant.

    1. they’re including a milky background, but I wouldn’t say they’re focussing on it. Nabisco probably wants roundeyes to get a chance at recognizing and buying while in-country.

    2. I don’t know about most people being lactose intolerant in China, it seems to be more the case in Korea from what I can tell. Where I am in China every shop has quite a large selection of milk, and parents feel it’s very important for their children to have it.

  5. Those are “Oreo Fun Sticks.”  they’ve been out for several years now.  Also, from my recent Chinese-Oreo experience, regular Oreos are predominate.

    1.  Yeah, seems to me that’s the real takeaway from the story, not the tube/straw ones which you can get in the US (perhaps not in all states?)

      I was amazed at some of the excellent flavors American-brand snacks (or local knock-offs) came in when I was in Thailand, which you’ll never find here even in Asian grocery stores.

      Green tea Oreos definitely sound amazing. If I saw that in a store I’d snatch it up immediately, even though I never normally buy oreos. Something to look out for if I go to China, I guess :)

  6. Oreos always disappoint me. The way they taste in my mind is so much better than the way they taste when I eat one. It’s actually driven me to stop eating them, because I know it’ll never be what I’m hoping.

    Probably for the best.

    1.  I find that mass-produced, processed-food style cookies like Oreos and other national brands are massively improved by mixing them in with pudding or ice cream. This somehow improves both the flavor and the texture – more than simply dunking them in milk does (though that does help quite a bit as well).

      1. You know, you’re right. Oreos taste much more like they do in my imagination when they’re crushed up in vanilla ice cream. I wonder why? When I eat them plain, there’s some slight off flavor, something maybe a little acidic or bitter. I always figured it was some kind of preservative or artificial color or flavor. Whatever it is, it does seem to be lessened substantially by mixing with ice cream.

        1.  Yeah, I think it’s probably a preservative or something along those lines. I taste it in a lot of things, and often don’t like the national brands because of it. Many local store brands (Wegmans grocery store’s own-brand is quite good) and e.g. Trader Joe’s products don’t tend to have this issue. Trader Joe’s oreo-style cookies are quite good, actually :)

          I wonder if it’s something that everyone can taste? I’m super-sensitive to vinegar, mustard, and certain other tastes – I can detect even a little bit and it’s overwhelming to the point where food with these ingredients is usually inedible to me. Perhaps I’m also particularly sensitive to whatever this ingredient is.

          Not sure how the ice cream affects this, perhaps it just covers up most of the oreo flavor so what you’re mostly getting is the texture and the chocolate flavor (which should be the strongest flavor).

  7. Can’t twist apart…..
    Using two double stuffs to create a quad stuff is about the only reason I eat Oreos.

  8. Anyone else been to China and tried the popular Oreo knockoff brand “Black Wind”? That is not a good cookie.

  9. Cost Plus World Market sells tins of tubular wafers with chocolate, hazelnut and lemon fillings, very much like this. Kinder sell a wafer straw too. I don’t think China is the only place this type of experimentation goes on.

    Cost Plus World Market also sells McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives, and is therefore my church.

  10. Those Oreo straws (‘Oreo Sippers’) are available in Canada (though not ALL of Canada, because I tried to find some in London Ont for my nephews and had no luck) and are Amazing. The vanills ‘Oreo Golden Sippers’ at least; I haven’t tried the chocolate kind. I don’t even like the cookies that much but these things, I rave about them to anyone who will listen and even some people who won’t listen. Seriously, they are really tasty.

  11. Chinese Oreos were on NPR the other day. Apparently, the original Oreo cookie was too wack for Chinese palletes: the filling was too sweet and the cookie part was too bitter. So, Nabisco tweaked the recipe for the Chinese market. They tried different flavors. Different shapes, even.

    Simultaneously, Oreo in China ran an ad campaign to introduce the twist-lick-dunk ritual, which was completely alien to Chinese consumers. It caught on. Now China has tube-shaped, rectuangular, green-tea-flavored, and all kinds of amazing Oreo bizz.

    Meanwhile, I just miss me some freaking Hydrox. I’d try a Chinese Oreo though, if they were available in my market.

  12. What “market research” praytell? Watching Japanese commercials from the last 3 decades?Imagine, a product in China ripping off something invented elsewhere, America cooperating – dropped that monocle in the martini years ago.

  13. I’ve had American Oreos, Chinese official Oreos and Chinese fake Oreos all in the last few weeks by coincidence (I live in Beijing right now). What is most amusing is how bad fake oreos are, considering that the originals aren’t anything particularly genius to begin with.

  14. “And why should an Oreo be round?”

    These appear to be every bit as round as your standard Oreo.

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