The Oreo code: American vs. Canadian cookies

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

August 4th, 2010


Photo by Gary Davidson


Very important, serious research happens in our offices. It’s not all fun and cottages.

An American expat I know insists that US Oreos are distinct from Canadian, so I brought two bags in to the office, one from each country, for a tasting.

Gary Davidson, art director of explore, focused on the visual differences:

In Canada they sometimes call them ORFO’s.

The US OREO has some strange horizontal lines above the oval…perhaps a secret society symbol.

They both look the same once bitten.

Photo by Gary Davidson

Vicki Hornsby, Cottage Life‘s associate art director, took notes on flavour and structural discrepancies:

The American version, more fragrant.
No discernable difference in appearance out of the package. They have different textures on the underside, to grab the filling (Cdn is zigzagged, American is more of a cable-knit idea.) Pull-apart-ability: equal.
Satisfying lump of filling maintains its shape. Same amount in both..
Can taste: sugary
Am taste: deeper oreo notes
I’m liking the american one better.

After Vicki deciphered the mysterious symbol—”That’s the Nabisco logo”—Gary felt the need to delve deeper:

Photo by Gary Davidson


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Martin Zibauer

Martin Zibauer

Aug. 5, 2010

9:43 am

I'm not sure how sugar content compares across the border in other processed food, but we've been hearing all about the abundance of salt on Canadian grocery shelves. According to a June '09 story in the Globe and Mail, for example, One bowl of All-Bran sold in this country contains 620 milligrams of sodium, or more than one-third of the daily recommended intake for people aged nine to 50. In the United States, one bowl has just 160 milligrams of sodium. What I don't understand are industry claims that reducing the salt is somehow difficult and expensive. Just put less in this year, even less in next year, and so on. Collude with your competitors on this one; I'm sure the Competition Bureau won't mind. Of course, consumer need to start reading labels and voting with their wallets too.


Aug. 5, 2010

9:21 am

I LOVE this post!! I go through this all the time, comparing American macarons to Paris macarons, but your comparison has such depth. I am wondering about that 'Am taste: deeper oreo notes'. I must get into my Oreo state of mind to figure that one out. Interesting to note too that usually stateside sweets are way heavier on the suger. In this case we've shown some restraint!? BRAVO It's rarely the case with American macarons (which to my mind are a lot like an Orea in consept at least if not flavor or color). merci carolg

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Martin Zibauer