You'd be forgiven for thinking that Oreos have always existed -- their universal popularity is undeniable (they're milk's favorite cookie, ALLEGEDLY), they fill grocery store aisles around the country, and even your great-Grandmother has fond memories of them. But the fact of the matter is, Oreos were first introduced in 1912 by a cookie conglomerate, and were scandalously similar to a preexisting product. INTRIGUE!
The pedigree of the Oreo can be traced back to 1890, when eight New York bakeries merged to create the New York Biscuit Company, and then subsequently merged again with a Chicago firm to make the National Biscuit Company (later called Nabisco). The Oreo was part of their 1912 "highest class biscuit" package (which included also-rans the Mother Goose Biscuit and the Veronese Biscuit) -- of which it is the only survivor -- and was sold in golden tins with glass lids, which kinda puts the resealable sleeve in perspective.
Of course, the Hydrox cookie was invented in 1908, and bore striking resemblance to the Oreo. It was also a chocolate wafer cookie with a cream filling, created by an offshoot of the original New York Biscuit Company (Sunshine Biscuits, which today produces Cheez-Its), and also had an embossed design on top. However, Oreos took off in popularity and most consumers thought that Hydrox was actually the knockoff product. Feel guilty yet?
You can still find Hydrox cookies on the market today. They're described as being more solid and less porous than Oreos, with a tangier filling. As for Oreos (whose cream filling was actually made with lard until 1996)? Well, you know where to find them.
Adam Lapetina is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and agrees with milk on this one. Read his musings at @adamlapetina.