When is an Oreo not an Oreo? When it's a Chinese Oreo.
No, that isn't a racist joke, at least not as far as we can tell. It's just our take on the Chinese version of the iconic chocolate-sandwich snackable. Branding or not, the stacked chocolate-wafer cookie that's masquerading under the Oreo name in the world's most populous country isn't an Oreo, or at least not the Oreo Americans have been horking down by the boxful for nearly a century. It's still a pretty damn good cookie, though.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that, after decades of cookie dominance in the U.S., Kraft attempted to bring the Oreo to China in 1996 and floundered in the process. Chinese consumers found our beloved cookie too sweet, and thought there were too many cookies to a package. (Too many Oreos? Heresy!) So they rejiggered the formula in 2006, eventually landing on a solution that bears little to no resemblance to an Oreo: four chocolate wafers with thin layers of chocolate crème, and a thicker layer of white Oreo crème in the middle, with the whole thing dipped in chocolate. (This version is apparently now also sold in the UK and Canada as Oreo WaferStix.)
And just like that, the bastard cookie was a hit: The new "Oreo" now outsells the traditional circular biscuit-based version in China, and has since become the nation's top-selling cookie. (According to the WSJ article, it's also inspired the amazing-sounding wafer rolls: "A tube-shaped wafer lined with cream… The hollow cookie can be used as a straw through which to drink milk.")
Taste: Though it was difficult for us to put aside our snack-based patriotism, most of us admitted that the Chinese Oreo was pretty damn tasty… though, of course, not nearly as tasty as a good old-fashioned 'merican one, thankyouverymuch. While its waferness makes it nearly impossibly to pry apart to get to the cream first, the basic flavors of the Oreo are there—the chocolate tastes like Oreo chocolate, the cream tastes like Oreo cream—but it's much lighter, as if the whole thing has been injected with air.
We had two versions of the snack, one chocolate-covered and one not, and the chocolate-covered iteration was clearly superior; without the coating, the cookie is simply too dry without any milk to bolster it.
Ah yes, the milk. It's here that your Taste Testers have failed you, as we snarfed down our measly supply of cookies before thinking to test their milk-absorption capabilities. Logic decrees that the wafer would soak up milk more readily than the denser biscuit, and the stick shape is certainly more conducive to dipping. Alas, the true nature of Chinese Oreos and milk will remain a mystery of the Far East until we can get our hands on another batch.
— "I like them better than Oreos. That's right, you heard me."
— "Well, they're certainly nowhere near as good as Oreos."
— "A bit of a bust, actually, because they don't taste anything like American Oreos."
— "I was hoping they'd be slightly different, just less sweet, but these are just like your basic wafer cookies."
— "They're pretty good—I'd happily eat a whole box—but I'd rather have some regular Oreos. Or better yet, Double Stuf. Or mint Oreos."
— "No twist capability is totes a deal-killer."
— "The whole Oreo comparison is almost useless, because they're so different—but in a good way. The chocolate-covered ones are really light and tasty. I could see opening one of these, then half an hour later realizing you ate the whole box. Then feeling like shit."
— "Much tastier than a non-Chinese Oreo. The chocolate is smoother and richer, the crisp lighter and more satisfying, and best of all, it doesn't suffer from the Doritos effect of leaving a taste behind as if your mouth were a fetid junk-food dumpster."
— "The obvious problem: It's not an Oreo. It's a wafer, not a cookie, and it most likely wouldn't absorb much milk. Of course, Oreo's claim that it's 'Milk's Favorite Cookie' is specious, since a regular cookie takes the milk much more naturally."
— "One more in the plus column: The Chinese Oreo would go a long way toward resolving a serious marital problem for me. You see, my wife has the diabolical habit of pulling apart two Oreo cookies, eating the halves with the white gunk on them, and leaving the dry halves fused together in the box. Like Charlie Brown with Lucy's football, her dumb, unsuspecting husband falls for it every time."
— "It's not an Oreo! It's a Keebler Fudge Stick, except the wafers are chocolate."
— "Buy a KitKat and save yourself the trip."
— "It's so light that a pack of five probably wouldn't satisfy the average American appetite. This might say something about why we tend toward obesity compared to the Chinese, but nobody ever said being a global superpower didn't come with sacrifices. Man up, Chinese!"
— "This is one Oreo where you can't eat the crème center first. You're just going to end up with a pile of wet cookies and heartache."
— "What kind of nation fucks up an Oreo cookie this bad? Those commies make everything worse, just like the Olympics."
Where to get them: China. Seriously, we couldn't find anywhere to purchase these online, so we forced a friend of The A.V. Club who was visiting China to smuggle them back to us in his luggage. The aforementioned WaferStix seem to be more readily available on the Internet, but we can't say for sure whether they're exactly the same product.