Hydrox Cookies

Hydrox Cookies (History, Marketing & Commercials)

If you love Oreos, you probably are not aware that there is another cookie that is almost exactly the same that is made by Leaf Brands. This little chocolate cookie with sweet filling looks and tastes almost exactly like an Oreo and has been on the market for many, many years. Hydrox cookies are actually the basis for the Oreo products that everyone knows and loves, which is why it’s so interesting that so few people know that Hydrox exists or that it came first.

Oreos have risen to the forefront through successful marketing done by Nabisco and due in part to the various sales of the Hydrox cookies brand over the years. It’s hard to imagine any reality where Oreos were not made first, just because of the dominance of the Oreo brand.

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Hydrox Cookies

History

Hyrdox cookies date back to 1908, when they were created with the inspiration of “purity and goodness” behind them. The name of the cookie is actually due to the hydrogen and oxygen elements that are combined to make the cookies. This would not be a reasonable naming convention these days, but snacking was really new in the early 1900s, and science was much more mainstream due to new inventions in foods, cosmetics, and other products that seemed to be flooding onto the scene on a daily basis. 

The Hydrox cookie predates the Oreo by four years, but it took years of work to get the Hydro cookie into production. The brainchild of Jacob Loose and intended to be made for the National Biscuit Company, this little sweet cookie biscuit with sweet filling was a first of its kind. Sunshine Biscuits would actually end up getting credit for the product and being the one to send it to market. 

The product might have suffered a little from the beginning due to its name, as there was an ongoing lawsuit with a famous hydrogen peroxide company over a trademark for the company. The Hydrogen peroxide formulation of these products was being used to describe all kinds of things, from cookies to ice cream, to coolers and home products of various kinds.

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The other unique thing about Hydrox was that the company was trying to tap into the recognizable crumpet-like design on the top of the cookies that were popular for other products. This is largely absent from the Oreo design, which is much more stripped down. The Hydrox cookie is a really beautiful cookie which makes it kind of unique in a mass-production world. Even the logo is ornate, which is much different than other cookies in this kind of product style. Hydrox was clearly trying to be “fancy” which is quite evident in the entire branding and production style of this cookie.

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Sunshine Biscuits bought Keebler in 1996, and the product was replaced in 1999 with a reformulated cookie called a “Droxie”. Keebler also acquired Kellogg’s in 2001, which prompted them to remove the Droxie from the market. They then tried selling the product that was like Hydrox through Famous Amos with other cookie sandwich products. None of these products were a success, so on the 100th anniversary of the Hydrox cookie, they were returned to market under the Sunshine label.

This was largely in response to an overwhelming demand from fans who made online petitions, called the company, and pleaded for the Hydrox cookies to come back. The online petition has over 1,000 signatures, and many people stated that they don’t eat Oreos due to their commitment to the Hydrox cookies. Sadly for fans, this run of cookies was a limited-time offering that was then discontinued as well.

More recently, the Carvel Ice Cream company partnered with Sunshine to make cookie crumbles for their ice cream products. They touted the Kosher status of the product since Oreos are made with lard. The Hydrox brand name was not mentioned in the ads but was disclosed in the fine print. Today, Carvel is using Oreo products instead for their ice cream toppers.

In 2014, Leaf Brands were able to register the Hydrox trademark, which had actually been abandoned since Kellogg’s quit making the cookies. Leaf began making Hydrox cookies in 2015, and they removed the artificial flavors from the cookies to comply better with non-GMO requirements. The products that you are able to buy today are likely a lot like the original product minus some of the unhealthy ingredients.

Many people prefer the Hydrox cookies to the Oreo because the cookie is more crunchy, and the filling is not as sweet. Most people who are loyal to Hydrox cookies also say that the cookie holds up better in milk which is great for those who love to dip their cookies in milk when they are eating them. If you don’t dip your cookies in milk, you might not notice the difference overall, and there is a certain attachment to very sweet snacks in the US, which might help push the Oreo ahead of the equally delicious Hydrox.

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Oreos are still considered copycats by those who love the Hydrox cookies, but the reality is that the Oreo was able to be successful because it was marketed better and because it did not suffer from a bunch of upheavals associated with multiple sales of the brand to other companies. Hyrdox also has a lot less appealing name, which might have contributed to the rise in popularity of the Oreo.

In reality, it did take decades for the Oreo to replace Hydrox, but this all happened quite some time ago. For most people who are aware of Oreos today, there has never been another cookie like it on the market. The many years of shared market space that the two cookies enjoyed predates most of us, and our parents also might not remember this part of the process of the two products’ growth.

If you want to give Oreos a run for their money, you can support Hydrox these days and avoid the sweeter and softer version of the same thing that is offered by the Oreo cookie. Since the brand is back on the market today, you can support it instead of the Oreo if you find that you love the Hydrox cookies texture and flavor. This is usually going to require that you buy online since you will be unlikely to see the Hydrox brand on the shelves of your local grocery store.

Hydrox cookies has been rescued from anonymity by Leaf Brands and Mondelez International, and you can choose to enjoy this cookie instead of the more readily accessible Oreo if you wish.

Branding

Today, the company is selling the cookies in the same blue packaging that has been common to most of the previous versions of this cookie. The cookie is shown in the middle of the wrapper, and the ornate style of lettering is used to indicate the brand name just under the cookie’s picture. The wrappers state that this is “America’s Original Crème Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookie”. At the top left, the wrapper states that the product is made “proudly in the USA” and on the other corner, the wrapper states that the product is made without trans fat. There are also little graphics stating that the product is made with real sugar. 

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This wrapper looks a lot like an Oreo wrapper, which increases the chance that you will compare the two products. With all of the various brands that argue over the smallest design note and the smallest indicator that a product is like another that is on the market, it is a bit of a wonder that both Oreos and Hydrox cookies exist on the market and occupy such a similar space with similar marketing.

It can actually be a little confusing when you first look at the wrapper on the Hydrox product because it looks so much like an Oreo wrapper. This is potentially part of why the Hydrox cookies were not able to maintain their popularity and the striking similarities seem mostly to create confusion for those who have never heard of this cookie brand and are just looking for the distinctive Oreo packaging and styling.

It remains to be seen if Oreo will take issue with the new Hydrox cookies sales effort that looks so much like existing Oreo branded products. The resemblance is so striking that there is likely to be some form of issue in the future if Hydrox should rise to its old popularity again. There has been a little bit of chatter about this between the brands on social media, but nothing more serious has come from the discussion at this time.

Logo

Hydrox Cookies Logo

Ingredients

From the Amazon listing:

  • Sugar,
  • Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour
  • Malted Barley Flour
  • Niacin
  • Reduced Iron
  • Thiamine Mononitrate
  • Riboflavin
  • Folic Acid)
  • Palm Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Cocoa (alkalized)
  • Corn Flour
  • Corn Starch
  • Leavening (Baking Soda
  • Monocalcium Phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Natural Vanilla Flavors
  • Unsweetened Chocolate

Nutrition

Serving Size:2 cookies (27g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories 130
Calories from Fat 54
Total Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 2.5g13%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 130mg5%
Total Carbohydrates 19g6%
Dietary Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugars 12g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%
Calcium0%
Iron1.1%
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.

Pictures

Commercials

Hydrox cookies ad from the 60s:

Sunshine company ad:

Hydrox Are Back! Video:

Tasting video:

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