Hydrox: The Next Generation

Beloved cookie making tentative comeback

Published in CSP Daily News

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- During its 100th anniversary, Hydrox, the defunct chocolate-sandwich cookie, is returning for one more rematch with Oreo, reported The Wall Street Journal. Bowing to more than 1,300 phone inquiries, an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures and Internet chat sites lamenting the demise of the snack, The Kellogg Co. has decided to temporarily relaunch Hydrox, the left-for-dead cookie.

"These loyalists can be proud to know they've been heard," Brad Davidson, head of Kellogg's snack division, told the newspaper.

Kellogg quietly discontinued Hydrox in 2003, [image-nocss] ceding victory to its longtime rival, Oreo, made by Kraft Foods Inc.'s Nabisco unit. Many Hydrox eaters initially thought their cookie had just become more difficult to find, learning only much later that the cookie had been discontinued. The online mourning and efforts to bring it back were the subject of a page-one article in January in the Journal.

Kellogg's move is more about marketing, and showing its responsiveness to consumers, than about a permanent product reintroduction, the report said. The cookie will be sold nationally starting in August, but only for a limited time. Davidson left open the possibility the cookie with the vanilla crème filling would come back for good, "if it takes off and there turns out to be a real affinity for it," he said.

He did not guarantee that the relaunched version will have the same recipe. One difference: no trans fat.

The report speculated that Hydrox lost out to Oreo because its name was less appealing. It also likely suffered from the impression that it was a cheap knockoff of the better-known Oreo. In fact, Hydrox was created by what would later become Sunshine Biscuits Co. in 1908—four years before National Biscuit Co. (later Nabisco) launched the similar Oreo, according to the report. Sunshine is now a unit of Kellogg.

But Hydrox's niche status earned it a hard-core following. Its fans came to see their sandwich-cookie choice as a call to arms for nonconformists.

An informal Oreo-Hydrox blind taste test by 20 Journal reporters resulted in 14 favoring Oreo, citing its sweeter taste. The sample Hydrox cookies were supplied by Kellogg.

A website cited by the Journal listed the top 25 things people miss ranked Hydrox at No. 4, just behind in-store lunch counters and ahead of Howard Johnson restaurants and the popcorn snack "Screaming Yellow Zonkers.