oreoHow many Oreo cookies have you eaten in your lifetime? If you are anything like me, you probably don’t want to know that question’s answer. More than 491 million bags have been sold to date—a generous fraction were probably purchased by me. But for all the gustatory pleasure given by the cookies, have you ever slowed down and appreciated the intricately “embossed” design on the cookie biscuit? I hadn’t either. Apparently there’s quite a back story.
Edible Geography blogger Nicola Twilley published an interesting history of cookie-embossing through the lens of Nabisco’s ubiquitous, twisty, chocolate-and-crème cookie. “[W]hen the Oreo was first introduced by Nabisco in 1912,” begins the cookie’s biography, “it used a much more organic wreath for its emboss, later augmented with two pairs of turtledoves in a 1924 redesign. The contemporary Oreo stamp was introduced in 1952, and it has remained unchanged.”
As with every cornerstone of American culture, the Oreo’s design is subject to criticism—and even conspiracy theories. Twilley summarizes:
[T]he Oreo’s geometric pattern of a dot with four triangles radiating outward is either a schematic drawing of a four-leaf clover or—cue the cliffhanger music from Jaws—the cross pattée, also associated with the Knights Templar, as well as with the German military and today’s Freemasons.