Twisting Oreos to determine which side of the cookie the cream filling sticks to is a time honored tradition. For kids, it’s a great way to place a bet, or settle a variety of playground disputes with the help of the delicious confection.
And the probability was always chalked up to dumb-luck, or some blind happenstance determined by the fate of the universe. But according to Princeton University researchers, it has nothing to do with probability or the powerful whims of the cookie Gods. In fact, a study in 2014 concluded with a 100% rate of accuracy which side of the cookie gets the cream, and it all boils down to how Oreos are manufactured.
The group of graduate students in aerospace and mechanical engineering used high-tech machinery -- in addition to family and friends -- to conclude that every cookie inside an individual box of Oreos splits in half the same exact way. While it took a group of physicists to make the discovery, it’s pretty easy to test the findings yourself, as Quartz distills how to do just that:
“Position the Oreo box so that the text on the packaging is facing the right way, and take out the cookie in the upper left hand corner. If the cream ends up on the left biscuit on one cookie, it’ll end up on the left biscuit for every cookie in that box. If it’s on the right, vice versa.”
That sounds easy enough, but where’s the evidence belying this simplistic claim? “It was easy to make the leap that it’s a feature of the manufacturing process,” graduate researcher Dan Quinn told Quartz. Oreos are made by a machine that pumps the cream filling onto a wafer. It’s the side of the cookie which first receive the cream that maintains the tightest grip on the icing, and keeps the icing when split in half.
This is surely science’s best attempt at explaining one of the great mysteries of the snacking universe, so test it out yourself, and see what happens.
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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.