Happy Belated Birthday, Oreo

7 Mar

How did I miss this?

The Oreo cookie turned 100 years old, yesterday, March 6, 2012.  The cookie originated in a Nabisco factory in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, and is the most popular cookie of the 20th century, with over 490 billion sold over the last 100 years.

The name of the Oreo evolved over time.  It was first named the Oreo Biscuit in an effort to attract British customers.  Other names included Oreo Sandwich in the 1920’s, Oreo Creme Sandwich in the 1940’s, and the  overly wordy, Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie, in the 1970’s.  Of course, we all just call them Oreos.

I know you know where I am going with this.

www.urbandictionary.com definition of Oreo:
A  black person who is said to “act white” because of the way they dress, talk, or act. Someone who does not play in to “acting black” and believes that there is no way to “act black”. Someone who typically hangs out with whites, or gets along well with whites.Sometimes blacks take being called an oreo as an offense, but others might take it as being called a “classy black”, someone who did not grow up in the projects so has no particular reason to be someone they aren’t in order to fit in well with the black community

A few examples of sentences using the term oreo, given on www.urbandictionary.com :

Caleb is such an oreo. He’s always going up north to snowboard and lives up in rich country with the white folks.

I’m black. Even though I live in the projects, I maintain an A average, and speak properly. I have a few white friends, I don’t really like watermelon or acting like an animal, and I prefer Gwen Stefani over Crime Mob. Apparently, this makes me an ‘oreo’ among my people.

A painful word of irony that causes Spike Lee anguish, and historical black figures to turn over in their graves.

Have you ever been called an Oreo? If so, and even if you haven’t, you might want to check out Toure’s, Who’s Afraid of Post Blackness, and Baratunde Thurston’s, How To Be Black, which talks back to the whole definition of what it is supposed to mean to be black.





4 Responses to “Happy Belated Birthday, Oreo”

  1. Manny March 7, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Personally; I think the oreo is a great analogy. The cookie has become a verb, speaks to the genious of people–metaphorically on point! The accuracy does however come with some perspective that I would like to share. There is an historical truth to this concept; during the slave era in America their was a concept known as the “house negro and the field negro”. This was how the 2 types of slaves were described. Briefly, the house negro-slave slept in the house with slave masters family, wore the best garments and ate the best food. he loved his master “more than master loved himself” so it is said. The field negro-slave slept outside, he hated the master for raping his wife, subjecting him to humilation, beating him savagely and essentially he wanted the slave owner dead.
    We see this analogy being played out long before nabisco’s oreo cookie. In today’s context there is the same line of thinking. There are some blacks who love and admire and worship everything that is white. White is right unequivically. However a clear distinction should be made because of the contemporary definition. It has, of late. eveolved to mean–by some, anyone who artculates or enunciates their words. One who seeks higher learning and values education. Of course this notion / version of it is preposterous. The histotical definition and context however does hold true….

    • Wendy Jane March 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks for dialing back the history clock and telling the origin of the pre-Nabisco Oreo. You should read the book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness by Toure, and then let me know what you think of it.

    • Kel March 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Manny— great information! I didn’t know what the term “oreo” meant. I thought it meant a person of mixed race. It makes sense,” black on the outside and white on the inside,” but I guess I never gave it much thought.
      There was a time, in college,when iwas in the cafeteria eating lunch with my friends. The advisor of the BSA(Black Student Alliance) was sitting with us and I was the only white person at the large table. Someone said something about “The white man controls everything” or something, and then said “No Offense,Kel.” Before I could respond, someone else said “Kelly isn’t white, she’s black!” Everyone at the table laughed and nodded.
      I spoke up…. “I’m sorry, but I AM white. I am white and I can dance and I am cool and I am smart and I love hip-hop and I don’t have a racist bone in my body. And there are more white people like me. Y’all are going to have to get used to it!”.
      It was an important moment for me. I could have just laughed along….. but it was so important to me that people accept me for who I am, and I am white. Later, one of my friends said “Kel, it was a compliment, really…. it just makes us feel better to imagine you are a black girl stuck inside some white skin.”

      I don’t know what my point is here and I apologize for any poor grammar, misspelled words and/or ramblings– it’s late and I am tryin to type this on my phone.

      • Ellen March 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

        I like your response, and what you said to your friends. It was honest and came from the heart, and you were unafraid to say it. It’s hard to do, and I wish more people would do it. Wendy’s blog is a great example of it!

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