Yesterday, The Atlantic published a completely delightful piece about the origins of the Oreo cookie’s design. Subtitled “The Unsung Heroes of Cookie Design,” it was possibly the most informative piece of food writing we’ve read all year, and chock-full of the kind of sentences that food-nerd dreams are made of. So we’ve highlighted our favorites.
“It might be said to combine homelike decoration with an American love of machine imagery, and in that combination lies a triumph of design.”
“The circle topped with a two-bar cross in which the word ‘OREO’ resides is a variant of the Nabisco logo, and is either ‘an early European symbol for quality’ (according to Nabisco’s promotional materials) or a Cross of Lorraine, as carried by the Knights Templar into the Crusades.”
“Conspiracy theories aside, the origins of 3D biscuitry are both pragmatic and decorative.”
“The turn of the 19th century saw the birth of the industrial biscuit, and, with it, the marriage of these two morphologies — docking and decorating — into an automated production line.”
“According to British cookery writer Elizabeth David, a pre-mechanization docker was ‘a dangerous-looking utensil consisting of sharp heavy spikes driven into a bun-shaped piece of wood.'”
“No one seems to know or care who created the stylized ferns on the Custard Cream, which remain unchanged since their debut in 1910, or the Art Deco steaming cup on the cardboard-like Morning Coffee biscuits of my youth.”
“But the true golden age of biscuit engineering did not dawn until the invention of the rotary molder in the late 1920s.”
“In reply to Greenbaum’s post, a comment by ‘Bill,’ who claims to be [reputed Oreo designer] William Turnier’s son, raises the intriguing possibility that the original blueprints for the Oreo emboss may be hanging over the door of a family room in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”
“This tradition of biscuit design anonymity seemingly continues into the present day.”
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