- By P.J. Aroon
In the United States, the Oreo cookie is a classic. Millions of American children have enjoyed dunking the sweet treat — white cream sandwiched between two round, crisp, chocolate cookies — in milk as an afternoon snack.
Kraft Foods, makers of the Oreo, introduced the cookie to China in 1996. But the Chinese didn’t exactly take to them. So starting in 2005, the Wall Street Journal reports, Kraft engaged in a classic case of adapting a product to suit local tastes. The Chinese found the cookies too sweet, so Kraft reduced the sugar in them. China was developing a thirst for milk — a product that traditionally hasn’t been a Chinese dietary staple — so Kraft launched a campaign, complete with Oreo ambassadors, to "educate" the Chinese on how to dunk the cookies in milk.
The most radical change was in the shape. Noticing that sales of wafer cookies were increasing faster than those of traditional biscuit-like cookies, a new version of the Oreo was created: a long, narrow, layered stack of crispy wafers and vanilla and chocolate cream, all coated with chocolate. Whoever said Oreos have to be round?
Of course, amid rising food prices and increased demand for chocolate (whose consumption in China has nearly doubled in the past five years), the success of the Chinese Oreo brings to mind the broader question of "Can the World Afford a Middle Class?," a topic recently addressed in FP and one that fans the flames of Chinese frustrations with the West.
(Meanwhile, Oreos have been trying to colonize British biscuit tins, the BBC reports.)
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |