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CheeOREO

Flash mobs in seven US cities sang “Happy Birthday!” to the famous comfort food: a white filling (or cream) sandwiched between two black biscuits.

The first Oreos were baked at the Nabisco factory in New York in 1912.

They are now sold around the world, bringing Kraft Foods – which owns Nabisco – $2bn (£1.3bn) annually.

“It’s the best-selling cookie in the world,” said John Ghingo, senior director for Oreo Global at Kraft.

“The simple act of enjoying an Oreo cookie and glass of milk continues to speak to a universal, human truth: inside all of us… there’s a kid that deserves to be set free every once in a while,” Mr Ghingo said.

He added that the name Oreo remained mystery even today, but one theory suggested that the two “O” in the world represented the cookies and the “re” in the middle stood for the cream.

To mark the milestone, the company released a limited edition of “Birthday Cake” Oreo.

Here’s a look back at the first 100 years of the world’s best-selling cookie. How do you eat yours? Twist, lick and dunk, or simply whole? (Kraft says the world is split, 50-50, on that one).

March 6, 1912

Produced at the National Biscuit Co.’s (Nabisco’s) Chelsea Market bakeries in Manhattan, N.Y., the first Oreos were sold in Hoboken, N.J., on this date.

30 cents

Price per pound grocers paid for the first Oreos, which were packaged in bulk tins.

$2 billion

Global Oreo sales in 2011.

21

Bakeries around the world where Oreos are now made.

The global cookie

Oreos are sold in more than 100 countries. The top five, based on sales: U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia.

That name

The origin of the Oreo name is unclear. Theories include that it was borrowed from “or,” the French word for gold, because the cookies first came in gold-colored packaging; that it was taken from the Greek word for mountain, because the cookies were first shaped like a hill; and simply that the cookies — which look like two O’s — reflect the two O’s in chocolate with the “re” from “creme” in the middle.

Oreo slogans

1950: Oh!, Oh! Oreo!

1980: For the kid in all of us

1982: America’s best loved cookie

Over 490 billion Oreos have been sold in the cookie’s first 100 years, making them far and away the best-selling cookie of the 20th century and an indelible part of American culture. Many people cite the fun of the act of eating an Oreo as a big part of its appeal, with some people eating the sandwiches whole, some pulling them apart, and many dipping them in milk. According to Kraft, an estimated 50 percent of Oreo eaters pull the cookies apart, and women are more likely to do so than men.

The Oreo brand has gotten a lot of ad campaign mileage out of the many ways to eat the cookie: A long-running campaign in the 1990s featured people pulling Oreo sandwiches apart to settle disputes, in the same way you’d flip a coin. Oreo’s current marketing revolves around the Double Stuf Racing League (DSRL), wherein celebrities like the Manning brothers (Eli and Peyton),Shaquille O’Neal, and Donald Trump compete against each other in Oreo-related contests.

Lastly, let’s not forget the cookie’s influence on the world of pet naming. According to YouPet.com, “Oreo” is the seventh most popular cat name in the United States, just behind “Shadow,” “Tigger,” and “Baby.”

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