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What makes Oreos so dark?

Dylan Yolles Sep 8, 2002 10:33 PM

File this in "you really should have better things to do department."

So this weekend I thought I'd try an experiment. I took the nutritional analysis for Oreos and the ingreident list for Oreos; then I got the nutritional analysis for each ingredient. Then I figured out how the ingredients could be combined in such a way so as to reproduce the actual nutritional analysis of an Oreo. Thus I had a sort of "recipe" for an Oreo which I made. (One caveat: I actually used Canadian Oreos in my experiment, not US ones - I like the Canadian ones better. The recipes are different.)

The recipe I came up with tastes pretty good; it does resemble an Oreo but it doesn't taste exactly the same. (I'll post it, if there is interest.) But even more than the taste, my recipe produces a much lighter colored cookie than an Oreo. In fact, Oreos are among the darkest chocolate wafers I've ever seen. They are practically black - which is quite surprising given the the majority of the cookie is flour and sugar.

One would think that Nabisco adds some type of color to an Oreo to make it so black. WRONG! There is no color on the ingredient list. It must come from the cocoa and chocolate (the Canadian version actually only contains cocoa, no chocolate). But as far as I can tell, no amount of cocoa will produce such a dark cookie. Could Nabisco have some special type of cocoa that they are using, perhaps an "extra dark roast"? Has anyone ever made a cookie as black as an Oreo without adding color?

  1. j
    joshuahiiiii Jul 18, 2011 07:19 PM

    Wow this is a really old topic but I thought i would post what really makes Oreo cookies so dark. Nabisco uses a dye that is made from a by product of combusted vegetable oil which is called carbon black. Carbon black is also used to produce car tires lol. I work at Cooper Tire and the same distributor that provides us the carbon black we use in our tire manufacturing process provides nabisco with the carbon black used in their cookies.

    2 Replies
    1. re: joshuahiiiii
      magiesmom Jul 19, 2011 03:59 AM


      1. re: magiesmom
        HillJ Jul 19, 2011 05:36 AM

        More reason to bake your own!

        However, the "story" I understood about carbon black was not that Oreo cookies or chocolate wafers (& I make ice box cakes all the time) by Nabisco actually HAVE carbon black in the ingredient but that the industry refers to the COLOR of that specific dark cocoa cookie/wafer as carbon black because it resembles the dark color of a commercial car tires or record albums which do contain carbon black.

        OTOH, food grade carbon black does exist: http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa...

        If Nabisco is using carbon black in any of their products, so much for truth in labeling! CB isn't the healthiest food chem ...

    2. s
      Stanley Stephan Sep 9, 2002 01:21 AM

      "Has anyone ever made a cookie as black as an Oreo without adding color?"

      The elves at Keebler's that make Droxies (aka Hydrox)?

      Supposedly Oreo's are made with Dutch Cocoa which produces a darker product. I guess carmelizing the sugar would make the product darker, but that's just a guess.

      The secretrecipes website that has a recipe for Oreos that you can make yourself uses Duncan Hines Devil's food cake in their ingrediants.

      Here's some info about Dutch Cocoa (scroll down)

      By the way, Oreo copied Hydrox cookies which came first.

      Link: http://www.directrecipes.com/choc_lov...

      12 Replies
      1. re: Stanley Stephan
        GG Mora Sep 9, 2002 10:38 AM

        BTW, "Dutch" cocoa isn't Dutch because it comes from Holland. The process by which it's alkalized is known as "Dutch processing", so "Dutch" cocoa should really be referred to as "Dutch-processed" or simply "Dutched" cocoa. And now my curiosity is piqued, so I'm off to see if I can Google up an explanation as to why it's the "Dutch" process. (The obvious answer is probably that the Dutch developed the process, but who knows...maybe it was invented by Riccardo "Dutch" Spinelli or something).

        1. re: GG Mora
          GG Mora Sep 9, 2002 10:48 AM

          Okay, so it was the Dutch. Shortly after a Dutch chemist named Van Houten developed a press for extracting cocoa butter from the roasted, ground beans (and thereby developing chocolate as we know it, I suppose) some of his fellow chemists found that alkalizing the beans reduced their bitterness.

          Now I'll be able to sleep at night.

        2. re: Stanley Stephan
          C. Fox Sep 9, 2002 11:26 AM

          Droxies aren't Hydrox. Keebler may own the recipe, but I don't think they're following it. At least, they don't taste the same to me. Am I hallucinating?

          1. re: Stanley Stephan
            s.m. koppelman Sep 9, 2002 11:40 AM

            Droxies, the Cookies Formerly Known as Hydrox, are made by Sunshine, not Keebler. Alas, they changed ("improved", natch) the recipe some years ago to make the cookies crumblier like an Oreo. The earlier version had harder cookies close to a chocolate snap in firmness. They still had a firmer filling than an Orero last time I checked.

            1. re: s.m. koppelman
              Dylan Yolles Sep 9, 2002 11:55 AM

              Actually, Canadian oreos have that firm texture like the old Hydrox! Get some next time you are there.

              1. re: s.m. koppelman
                C. Fox Sep 9, 2002 12:34 PM

                Keebler acquired Sunshine in 1996, at which time they discontinued most of the Sunshine cookies and, uh, re-engineered the rest. The crackers (such as Cheez-Its and "Krispy" saltines) still say "Sunshine" on the package, but the cookies say "Keebler".

                BTW, Kellogg acquired Keebler in 2001. So you could say that "Droxies" are made by Kellogg. It's enough to break a Hydrox lover's heart.

                1. re: C. Fox
                  Karl S. Sep 9, 2002 08:19 PM

                  What was done to Hydrox was a crime, at least for dark chocolate lovers, who tended to prefer Hydrox to Oreos.
                  Droxies are even worse than Oreos.

                  Just think, Droxy rhymes with dropsy. A rhyme worthy of the product.

                  Maybe someone will care to dis-re-engineer the product.

                  1. re: C. Fox
                    Lindsay B. Sep 11, 2002 09:30 PM

                    I don't think I've ever had an American Oreo. I remember the Canadian ones fondly, however.
                    Why is it that Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches are virtually unheard of in this country. I know of exactly one convenience store in greater Boston that sells them. In the old country, you can get them in any gas station or Seven-Eleven.

                    Why are Hydrox cookies so-called?

                    1. re: Lindsay B.
                      Stanley Stephan Sep 12, 2002 12:23 AM

                      Sunshine wanted a name that complemented the word "suhshine" and that stood for purity and goodnes. They thought both sunshane and water were pure. Water is made of - hydrogen and oxygen ... voila ... Hydrox.

                      The Hydrox / Oreo story attached.

                      Oreo has three possilbe reasons for the name. Even Nabisco is not sure
                      - taking the "re" from the word cREme, they surrounded the "RE" with round O's which are the cookie shaped ... O re O.
                      - the French word "OR", meaning "gold," a color used in the early packaging
                      - oreo means mountain in Greek. The first oreo's were supposedly shaped like little mountains.

                      Link: http://www.business2.com/articles/mag...

                      1. re: Stanley Stephan
                        Karl S. Sep 12, 2002 02:30 PM

                        What the link could not explain was the disaster that followed in the wake of Keebler's evildoing. Keebler ruined the essence of the cookie.

                        Real Hydrox had outer layers that were firm, crisp and with almost fiercly pure chocolate taste. They did not readily fall apart when dunked in milk, nor did their chocolate essence get compromised in the process. The stiffly flattened cream inside was just there to provide enough contrapuntal highlights to the chocolate.

                        Oreos, by contrast, had crumblier outer layers with a more compromised chocolate taste, but the cream was fluffier and had more of a presence of its own in the cookie.

                        Droxies combine the worst of both worlds, by comparison.

                  2. re: s.m. koppelman
                    Val G Sep 9, 2002 09:07 PM

                    Newman's Organics (Paul Newman and daughter Nell) makes "Newman-O's". Looks like an oreo, but made with organically grown ingredients. They say their cocoa is sustainabley grown.
                    Taste pretty good. But I am hooked on the unique taste of oreos.

                  3. re: Stanley Stephan
                    Chino Wayne Sep 9, 2002 09:07 PM

                    And Sunshine Hydrox were always much, much better tasting than nasty old Oreo's.

                  4. b
                    Buen Provecho Sep 9, 2002 01:09 AM

                    In the Baker's Catalogue put out by King Arthur Flour they offer "Dutch-process black cocoa, our darkest." The description reads "This super-dark, super-rich cocoa will make the darkest chocolate cake or cookies you've ever seen. Note: for best results, use black cocoa in combination with natural or Dutch-process cocoa."

                    In reference to the coloring issue - there was a horrible Schwarzeneger (sp?) movie out years ago - with a kid who found a magic ticket, etc., etc.. In the rush to get the movie released there were many many errors made in the editing. After the movie's release the NBC program Dateline (I think) ran a spot-the-mistakes kind of story. Anyway, they mentioned that in the scene where Arnold falls into the La Brea tar pits, the black goo that represented the "tar" was in actuality the dye that Nabisco uses on Oreos. I just remeber thinking ewww, they dye them that color. But like you said, colors/dyes are not listed as ingredients. The traditional Nabisco chocolate wafers (like for icebox cake, if you've had that) are just as dark, and they don't list coloring agents either. Now I'm totally curious - think I'll look at the Nabisco website and see if they've got any pertinent info.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Buen Provecho
                      magnolia Sep 9, 2002 06:12 AM

                      Funny you should mention the Famous wafers - I was thinking exactly the same thing, they are as dark as Oreos and I didn't realise they were also Nabisco.

                      As an aside I *love* ice box cake and I've been trying to find plain chocolate wafers in London, in vain, for years. There's nothing like them, everything seems to have a flavor, coating or cream. But I think UK cream with all its permutations and choices of fat content would be ideal for ice box cake! But for now I have to stock up when I go back...

                      1. re: magnolia
                        Caitlin McGrath Sep 9, 2002 04:41 PM

                        Of course, Famous chocolate wafers aren't entirely "plain," as they have coconut in them.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          magnolia Sep 10, 2002 11:47 AM

                          I meant "plain" as in "plain ol' chocolate" - no cream, no coating, no chips/nuts/fruits...

                          1. re: magnolia
                            rjka Sep 10, 2002 12:30 PM

                            Coconut is one of the ingredients in the plain chocolate wafers. It's listed on the ingredient line. Must be powdered and added to the batter.

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