The Cookie War Between Oreo and Hydrox Is Getting Ugly
Oreo, long a delightful staple of any cookie-laden diet, is being accused of some deceitful business practices by a century-old competitor. Oreo parent company Mondelez International is allegedly trying to starve Hydrox out the market by blocking the lesser-known chocolate cookies out of view on grocery store shelves. The implications of massive drama in the cookie world are huge, if true.
On Monday, Hyrdox took to Facebook to announce a complaint filed with Federal Trade Commission alleging that Oreo's been engaged in some pretty nefarious stuff, according to a report by Gizmodo. Namely, Hydrox is accusing Oreo of intentionally making its product harder to see on grocery store shelves. This is made possible through the company's direct distribution model, which involves Mondelez staffers delivering goods to stores and stocking the shelves rather than grocery store employees. In the post, Hydrox argues Mondelez has been doing this for years "in hopes of lowering sales volume and having us discontinued."
The story of Hydrox has always been a scramble for survival. Even though the cookies hit the market in 1908 -- four years before Oreos -- they've always been out-shined by their competitor. In fact, much of the historical record involves Hydrox being completely cannibalized by Oreo, which simply tackled the chocolate-sandwich cookie concept with more resources and marketing savvy.
In 1999, CNN Money described the situation thusly:
"A small, fledgling company comes up with a great new product -- so great that a bigger, more powerful company copies the idea. The larger firm flexes its superior distribution and promotional muscles, the smaller outfit watches helplessly as its business slips away, and that's that--another case of the strong running roughshod over the weak."
In Hydrox's Facebook post, the company mentions a grocery buyer who warned of Mondelez' alleged practices. This person reportedly said, per the post:
"Mondelez is going to hide your cookies all over our stores to make sure you don't get any sales, in hopes of being discontinued. They will see you as a major threat to their market and will do anything to ensure you're not successful. You're going to have to hire people to go into each of our stores and make sure Hydrox is not being hidden."
In an emailed statement, an Oreo spokesperson told Thrillist:
"We have not been contacted about this, but we are confident that this accusation has no merit," the statement said. "The OREO brand is an iconic one, with a proud and rich history of delivering great tasting products and exciting innovations to our consumers for more than a century. This focus, and our commitment to operating with integrity, has made OREO America’s favorite cookie."
The pictures in Hydrox's Facebook post show Oreo cookies obscuring the view of its competitor's in grocery stores "across the US," although the images could have been manipulated. We've reached out to both Mondelez and the parent company of Hydrox, Leaf Brands, for clarification on the issue and will update this post when hear back.