September 3, 2015

HYDROX WERE ALWAYS BETTER, BUT NEITHER CAN BEAT A DUPLEX:

The Return of America's Favorite Kosher Snack Cookie : Hydrox is coming back. (Michael Schulson, September 3, 2015, The Tablet)

The Hydrox, for those not in the know, was an Oreo knock-off. Except it wasn't a knock-off, because the Hydrox was actually invented four years before the Oreo, in 1908. But basically, for all intents and purposes, Hydrox was the creme-filled Oreo look-a-like that most people ignored, with one key difference: unlike lard-infused Oreos, Hydrox were kosher.

Anyway, Bob accepted the challenge, and submitted himself to a blind taste test. His friend, feeling sly, took half of a Hydrox and half of an Oreo, and smushed them together to make a single hybrid cookie sandwich. Blindfolded Bob took a bite. "Half Oreo, half Hydrox," he said. Touche! (Full dislosure: that quote is a historical reconstruction based on reliable sources, and not necessarily verbatim).

Bob may have had an unusually sensitive palate. But his experience calls into question the earnest assurances given to thousands of Jewish youth before 1997-namely, that their Hebrew school Hydrox snack was basically the same as Oreos, so stop complaining and eat them already.

In 1997, to the relief of Jewish parents and children everywhere, Oreos went kosher. (Marjorie Ingalls has discussed the transition in Tablet, with thorough notes on the personal and cultural dimensions of the change). In 2003, Hydrox went extinct. While I would like to chalk this up to the power of kosher-keeping consumers, it is not difficult to think of other reasons that the product did not thrive. For one thing, its name sounded like a stain remover, or a Dr. Seuss character, or a kind of small African mammal. For another, it was playing catch-up with a juggernaut.

So what do you do in 2015 with an old, defunct, alternative snack food, with an industrial-age name and strong associations with one's grandparents?

Bring it back, of course! And feed it to millenials. Production of Hydrox will restart tomorrow in Los Angeles.

Posted by at September 3, 2015 7:11 PM
  

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