October 31, 2012
You may recognize the cookies in the above photo, but probably not. If you’ve guessed Oreos, then I’m pleased to announce that you are wrong. The cookies are called Hydrox, created in 1908, predating the Oreo by four years.
Stealing and thievery have bad reputations. But sometimes, it’s okay to be a rip-off. Case in point: Oreos. Inspired by the Hydrox cookies, Oreos were created with a slightly different flavor, and within a few years they held the popular public image of being the original cookie, giving Hydrox the unfortunate label of an imitator. If you’re curious how they taste, you may be out of luck. Oreo was so successful it is rip-off that it caused the demise of Hydrox. And so Hydrox has been on the chopping block, and apparently is only offered in some cookies and crime ice creams. (You can however enjoy this well-developed blog post comparing the cookies.)
Oreos weren’t an original idea, but it was distinct development on something that already existed. And considering that it has been the best selling cookie in the US for the past 100 years, it seems a fitting example of when it’s okay to be a rip-off.
“its not where you take things from, its where you take them to” — Jean-Luc Godard
For more on this theme, check out the works of Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist.