America's Number One Cookie Not Finding The Love Overseas
By Elana Centor on May 18, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
In addition to marking the date of his first smile, first words,and first steps, the parents of Sebastian also marked the occasion of his first Oreo cookie. He was 19 months old and they blogged about the experience.
While some people around the world may scratch their head and wonder what's the fuss about a cookie, anyone who grew up or spent time in the U.S. understands that Oreos are much more than a cookie --they are an American Experience.
Several years ago Kraft decided to try to export that all American Experience to China. It was not love at first bite.
For the Chinese palate, the all American Oreo cookie was simply too sweet. So Kraft decide to create a cookie that appealed to Chinese taste buds. Here's where it gets odd.
Kraft created a cookie that has less sugar than an Oreo and consists of four layers of crispy wafer filled with vanilla and chocolate cream --the whole thing is coated in a chocolate. Yet if you go to China and see a package called OREO..that's the cookie you'll get--not the traditional cookie that is sold in the U.S.
The Chinese version sounds quite tasty. It doesn't sound like an Oreo. Nevertheless that's exactly what this treat is called in China. There is one thing that the Chinese version of the cookie has in common with its American counterpart--- "milk dunking." The reformulated Chinese Oreo comes at a time when the Chinese are increasing their intake of dairy products.From the WSJ
In China, Kraft began a grassroots marketing campaign to educate Chinese consumers about the American tradition of pairing milk with cookies. The company created an Oreo apprentice program at 30 Chinese universities that drew 6,000 student applications.
Three hundred of the applicants were trained to become Oreo brand ambassadors. Some of the students rode around Beijing on bicycles outfitted with wheel covers resembling Oreos and handed out cookies to more than 300,000 consumers. Others held Oreo-themed basketball games to reinforce the idea of dunking cookies in milk. Television commercials showed kids twisting apart Oreo cookies, licking the cream center and dipping the chocolate cookie halves into glasses of milk.
Maybe its me, but the Chinese version of the Oreo may be a delicious treat and it may be an Oreo-like product but is it really an Oreo? I don't think so.
Meanwhile in England, Oreo is having a tough time finding it's audience. Calling it the Color of Wet Mud, it's seems that the Brits find the Oreo too sweet as well. However, unlike China, Kraft has no plans to reformulate the cookie's ingredient. From PileOfblogs
Even though I was born in England, I never knew that the Oreo wasn’t available in grocery stores across the pond… until now! Apparently the Oreo has just landed in England, and the people aren’t taking it too well. I thought this story was kind of rediculous, and I’m not sure if the person the BBC spoke to in this article has just been stuck indoors for too long, or if she represent the majority, but she thinks that dipping a cookie in milk is simply revolting, and gave the impression that NOBODY does that but Americans. Now I’m all for dipping a good digestive in tea, but dipping a cookie in milk seems as common as putting ketchup on french fries. Not to mention that if I remember correctly, cookies and milk have always been left for Santa, and he obviously dips the cookies in the milk because it helps them go down easier, and stops the crumbs from getting caught in his beard.
Will the British abandon “tea and biscuits” for Oreo’s and milk? I think it will be an uphill battle. Getting the Brits to switch from tea to milk, at break time, is the big challenge. I love Oreo’s but they just don’t work well with tea for meIn my very first class here in London, a professor of Employment Relations angrily explained that the U.S. dominated the worldwide “biscuit market.” In Germany, he said, you need a PhD to make biscuits; though German biscuits are the finest in the world, they are too expensive. In the U.S., where everything is “cheap, impersonal, and deskilled,” uneducated Kraft workers make millions of “those crappy black biscuits — what are they called, Orioles?” every day. But Like Goldilocks, the professor finds British biscuits juuuuust right, and that’s why he thinks the rest of the world should too. The cries of indignation can be heard across the land, and in London, where every decision is financial, people are speaking with their wallets. In my local Tesco Metro (another British supermarket) , there are no basic baking ingredients and no affordable vegetables or fresh meat, but there are biscuits. Biscuits get most of their own aisle, and digestives, gingers, chocolates, and fruit-filled biscuits line the shelves, which are picked bare by evening, after the East End’s investment banking population has had their fill. But the Oreos aren’t moving at all. Tesco picked them up a few weeks ago, and promptly relegated a cramped, bottom shelf spot to the American classic..
Oreo cookies are sold in 100 countries around the world. No word on how other countries are embracing America's number one cookie.
Image credit: The Buckler Casillas Blog
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