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Happy Birthday, Oreo!

Oreo celebrates its 100th birthday today, marking the anniversary of its introduction on March 6, 1912, by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). It went on to become the best-selling cookie in the United States during the 20th century. To commemorate the occasion, Nabisco, now owned by Kraft, has launched a new birthday-cake flavored Oreo and a website where you can share Oreo moments or send Oreo-grams.

1952 advertisement for Oreos

A hundred years of twisting and dipping the black and white cookie also means a hundred years of advertising Oreos to potential consumers. The Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History has a number of historic Oreo advertisements in its collections. The earliest print ads show Oreos alongside other Nabisco products, such as the Uneeda Biscuit and Lorna Doone Shortbread. These advertisements typically featured a young boy in a yellow raincoat. This character was developed by Philadelphia-based advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son to highlight the effectiveness of Nabisco’s innovative moisture-proof packaging (called In-er-seal) in an era when other biscuits were packed by grocers in paper bags. Ads urged consumers to “look for the red seal.”

1923 advertisement for Oreos












Oreo has had several name variations during its long life. It entered the world as “Oreo Biscuit,” changed to “Oreo Sandwich” in 1921 and then to “Oreo Creme Sandwich” in 1948. Now it’s just “Oreo” and billed as “Milk’s Favorite Cookie.” Nabisco introduced Double Stuf Oreos in 1975 and the Fudge Covered Oreos (pictured, below right) in 1987, just in time for the cookie’s 75thbirthday. Now the brand is sold worldwide – you can even get Green Tea Oreos in China and Japan!

Post contributed by Liz Shesko, Reference Intern, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.

1988 advertisement for Fudge-Covered Oreos
Grocer's promotional display for Oreos, ca. 1900-1930