Dueling Sandwich Cookies

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September marks the reintroduction of a longtime American brand – one of which most Americans have never heard.   Leaf Brands began the production of Hydrox cookies on September 4, this year at their facility in Vernon, California.   They are very proud to bring back the Hydrox, what they call the Original Sandwich Cookie.   Yep, it predated the Oreo, and was always free of animal fats.   Leaf Brands went old school, rolling back the recipe to when real sugar, non-hydrogenated oils and high-quality cocoa were used.

Leaf Brands is a candy company, around since the 1920s, that sells such brands as Astro Pop, Wacky Wafers, Tart n Tiny, Bonkers, and Farts candies.

Hydrox is the brand name for a cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie that debuted in 1908 and was manufactured by Sunshine Biscuits.   Oreo, which was introduced later in 1912, was actually inspired by the Hydrox, but Hydrox was always seen as the knockoff.

They say the cookie being manufactured is like the original Hydrox you remember – less sweat, more tangy, and more chocolate flavor than its younger rival, Oreo.   And it stays crispier in milk.

The name Sunshine chose sounded more like a cleaning solution than a cookie.   Later market research showed that the name was not well received in the market.   Its creators came up with the name from the atoms comprising water.  In 1908, they were looking for a name that would convey “purity and goodness.” Since water is known for those qualities, they developed the name from the elements making up a water molecule.   Hydrox was fresh enough to gain an all Kosher status.   But with a name like Hydrox, that didn’t seem to go very far.

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Oreo overtook the market and is now the highest selling cookie in not only the U.S., but the world. They have more flavors than just the chocolate-vanilla sandwich.     Just releasing a candy corn filled Oreo, there are also peanut butter, watermelon, double stuffed, birthday cake, dulce de leche, fruit punch, pumpkin spice, strawberries and cream, limeade, gingerbread, creamsickle, mint, banana split, red velvet, and even fried chicken!

Sunshine Biscuits, the creator of the Hydrox cookie was purchased by Keebler in 1996, and was replaced with a similar but reformulated product names Droxies.     To me it sounds like a sleeping pill – again with the terrible branding!   Keebler was bought by Kellogg’s in 2001, and they removed Droxies from the market in 2003.

I’m lucky to have an old Keebler plant about a mile away in the valley from my house that in the warmer months wafts great cookie baking aromas through my windows.   Kellogg’s markets a chocolate sandwich cookies under the Famous Amos brand.   On the Hydrox’s 100th anniversary, Kellogg’s resumed distribution of Hydrox under the Sunshine label, with first batches shipping in August of 2008.     Fans of the old cookie had bombarded Kellogg’s with thousands of phone calls and online petitions, begging for its reintroduction. They were made available nationally for a limited time, and less than a year later Kellogg’s removed Hydrox from their web site, never to bring them back to the market.

Leaf Brands got a letter from Kellogg’s stating they have no plans to bring back the brand.   So, the U.S. Patent office granted Leaf the exclusive use of the brand and now it’s their newest product.   And now the small fan base that craved the original American chocolate-vanilla sandwich cookie is overjoyed to enjoy their chocolatey-crunchy taste once again.

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