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What was the first Oreo?

Oreos are one of the most popular cookies in the world, known for their classic combination of two dark chocolate wafers with a sweet cream filling in between. While Oreos come in many different flavors nowadays, the original Oreo recipe has remained largely unchanged since its inception. So when was the first Oreo created and what did it look like?

The Origins of the Oreo Cookie

Oreos were first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (now known as Nabisco). The famous cookie made its debut in 1912, after nearly a decade of experimentation and fine-tuning of the recipe.

It’s commonly believed that the name “Oreo” was inspired by the Greek word for mountain (“oros”) due to the cookie’s mountain-like shape. There are also theories that the name is derived from the French word for gold (“or”), referring to the original packaging which featured a gold foil background.

The First Oreo Design and Packaging

The original Oreo cookie from 1912 looked quite different from modern day Oreos. The earliest Oreo was much smaller in diameter – only around 3 inches compared to today’s standard 3.5 inches.

The original cookies were also slightly thinner and lighter in texture. They had a lemon-cream filling instead of the signature vanilla cream we know today. And the pattern embossed on the cookies was an intricate floral design, unlike the familiar two-bar cross pattern on current Oreos.

The very first Oreo cookies were sold in bulk tins to grocers. In 1913, they began packaging Oreos for the mass market in waxed paper bags with the company logo. By 1924, Oreos transitioned to the iconic blue and white branded tins featuring the word “OREO” prominently on the front.

The First Oreo Ingredients

While the recipes have evolved over the decades, the original 1912 Oreo cookie contained these basic ingredients:

Cookie Portion Ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Shortening
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla

Cream Filling Ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Shortening
  • Lemon oil

The main aspects that have changed are the flavor profiles – the switch from lemon cream to vanilla, and the adjustments in the cookie ingredients to create a darker chocolate cookie. But even back in 1912, you can see the core ingredients of an Oreo were there.

The Evolution of the Oreo Over the Decades

While the original 1912 Oreo established the classic cookie sandwich design, Oreos have continued to evolve with the times:

Year Oreo Milestone
1912 The first Oreo is developed and sold by Nabisco.
1924 Packaging changes to the iconic blue, white and red tin.
1948 The seal on the side of the Oreo package is redrawn to read “Oreo Biscuit”.
1952 Nabisco begins advertising Oreos on television, promoting twisted licking and dunking.
1974 Double Stuf Oreos with twice the creme are introduced.
1975 Football player Archie Manning becomes an Oreo brand ambassador.
1976 The first Oreo cookies are manufactured outside the U.S. in Spain.
1986 Mini Oreos make their debut.
1991 Oreos get their first major design change, with more modern-looking packaging.
1995 Birthday cake Oreos are released to celebrate the cookie’s 100th birthday.

The 21st Century

In the 21st century, Oreo innovation has accelerated rapidly:

  • 2002 – Oreo wafers become thinner and get minor design updates.
  • 2003 – New flavors like mint, peanut butter, and dulce de leche are introduced.
  • 2006 – The “Crispy” Oreo with thinner, crispier wafers debuts.
  • 2011 – Special limited editions like candy corn and green tea ice cream Oreos are launched.
  • 2012 – Cookie dough and birthday cake Oreos are introduced to celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday.
  • 2013 – Oreo’s Rainbow Pride cookies support LGBT+ pride month celebrations.
  • 2017 – Firework Oreos feature popping candy creme to celebrate July 4th.
  • 2021 – New flavors like Chocolate Confetti Cake and Apple Cider Donut Oreos are launched.

Today, Oreo releases 5-10 new flavors annually, pushing the boundaries of creativity while staying true to their classic cookie roots.


While Oreos have evolved immensely from the original lemon-filled black and white cookie introduced in 1912, the iconic, addictive sandwich design endures. Now produced globally in 18 different countries, Oreos remain the #1 selling cookie in the world. More than 500 billion Oreos have been sold since they first tempted the public over 100 years ago. And with intriguing innovations like Firework Oreos and Mystery flavors each year, the world’s favorite cookie is poised to continue delighting us for the next 100 years.