Many snack foods including Oreos have thrived during the pandemic, as consumers deal with the stress and boredom of isolation.
“Definitely snacking has been one of the stories of Covid,” said Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst at NPD Group. “Not just any old snack foods, but we saw a shift to more of an indulgent snacking. A shift away from the healthier or better-type-for-you foods.”
Mr. Seifer said that well-established brands were performing particularly well, as consumers were staying within their comfort zones.
And Oreos are nothing if not well established. Now part of the bigger snack company Mondelez International, Oreos hit the market in 1912 as a product of the National Biscuit Company (later shortened to Nabisco), part of a package of three cookies known as the Trio.
The other two cookies (a hard cookie called the Veronese Biscuit and a nursery-rhyme-themed cookie called the Mother Goose Biscuit) did not withstand the test of time. Oreo went on to become the best-selling cookie in the world.
Today, Oreo’s innovation dream team includes marketers, product developers, researchers and food scientists, Mr. Parnell said. The team begins each new Oreo ideation period with a suite of 50 flavor options, and narrows them down to about a dozen. New flavors are conceived 18 to 24 months before release. Often, Mr. Parnell said, the team works with chefs “to understand what is trending.”
Frequently, the biggest releases don’t focus on new flavors.
This year, one of the most important branding opportunities for the company included Oreo’s collaboration with Supreme, the street wear brand that all but invented unexpected, head-turning collaborations. That flavor was regular; the ratio of cookie to filling was “Double Stuf.”
This year also welcomed a regular flavored, “Triple Stuf” Oreo with tricolor filling, released with the U.S. Olympic Team, continuing a long tradition of collaborative branding between athletes and consumer packaged goods.
Finally, there was the announcement of Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” Oreos, which will be in stores starting in January.
Given Lady Gaga’s history of rococo outfits and high-camp anthems, fans might have expected the Oreo flavor to be outré. But while the colors are eye-catching, the flavor is familiar. The Oreos are standard Golden — which is to say, vanilla.