What is a Hydrox? Hydrox was the original sandwich cookie. In 1908, the Sunshine Biscuit Company began selling Hydrox cookies, and they were an immediate success. Hydrox was so successful that in 1912 the much larger National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) starting making Oreos, a copycat of Hydrox. Oreos quickly began outselling Hydrox. In 1999, Sunshine stopped making Hydrox cookies after the company was purchased by Keebler. Hydrox cookies looked like Oreos, but they didn’t taste the same. Hydrox cookies were not as sweet as Oreos. I think that is because Hydrox cookies were made with sugar, and Oreos were and are made with corn syrup.  Hydrox cookies are back on the market, but they can be very hard to find in stores or online. Hydrox cookies are still made with real sugar and contain no corn syrup.

Jews & Hydrox. When I was a kid, Jews who kept kosher ate Hydrox cookies, never Oreos. Oreos were made with lard, and therefore, were not kosher. Hydrox cookies were always made with vegetable oil and were always kosher.  In the 1990s, American consumers began shifting away from products made with lard as part of a general interest in eating healthier food. As a result, many products, like Bisquick, replaced the lard in their products with vegetable oil. In 1997, Nabisco stopped putting lard in Oreos and replaced it with vegetable oil as well. As a result, Oreos are now kosher.

Kosher Hot Dogs. Surprisingly, the great majority of American buyers of kosher foods are Christians. A lot of people will pay extra for kosher certified processed foods because they know that if there is a kosher seal on a product, that means that it doesn’t contain pig snouts, mechanically separated cow butts, or a long list of other unappetizing animal parts and also that a rabbi is regularly inspecting the factory looking for unsanitary conditions, and inspecting it more frequently than government food inspectors. I sometimes see 1 pound packages of hot dogs at dollar stores and wonder: ‘What are all-meat hot dogs that sell for $1.00 a pound made out of?’ Perhaps it is best not to think too much about such questions. You sure can’t buy kosher hot dogs for $1.00 a pound!

Donald Trump vs. Oreos. President Trump has urged Americans to boycott products that used to be made in the U.S. but that are now made in Mexico. In 2015, Nabisco moved the production of Oreos from Chicago to Mexico. Then-candidate Trump said: “I’m never eating another Oreo again!” and told his supporters to boycott Oreos as well. Donald Trump talked about Oreos frequently during the presidential campaign. Hydrox cookies were always made in the U.S., and they still are. So what do you think?  Will eating Hydrox cookies ‘make America great again’?

What Are Lemon Oreos?

lemonoreosI have been making chocolate covered Oreos for a long time. I always have them in the chocolate room. My favorite is Mint Oreos covered with semisweet chocolate. I think mint and dark chocolate go well together. I was recently at Safeway and saw a big display of Lemon Oreos. I think this is a new flavor. I thought about buying them but decided not to after reading the label, which I found completely baffling. The first thing that caught my eye is that it says on the front of the package that the name of this product is ‘Lemon flavor creme Oreos.’ I am always suspicious of the word ‘creme.’ I don’t know what it means, but I do know that ‘creme’ does not mean ‘cream’. More worrisome is that just above the word ‘OREO’ it says NATURAL FLAVOR WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVOR.’ What does that mean? I really don’t know. I am not playing dumb. I really have no idea what that means. It sounds both suspicious and ominous. I am sure of one thing. They wouldn’t put something like this on the front of the package unless they had to for some legal reason, but what could that reason be? ‘NATURAL FLAVOR WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVOR‘ does not mean that Lemon Oreos are made with lemons. There is no mention on the ingredients list of lemons, lemon juice, lemon zest, or anything else that came out of a lemon. Attention, chemistry students! Right now, about 1/3 of my tenants are majoring in chemistry, and most of them are graduate students. One of you chemists should be able to explain this to me.

Crunch Korean Restaurant

crunch1Crunch is one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Berkeley. It open last year and was a hit from Day One. Complete meals cost around $8, which seems cheap to me. Everything on the menu looks beautiful, the meals are filling, and ingredients are fresh and healthy. On the other hand, their dessert looks extremely unhealthy. They only have one dessert – Tempura Oreos. They take 6 Oreo cookies, dip them in tempura batter, deep fry them, put them on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and then cover the whole thing with Hershey’s syrup. God only knows how many calories are in this this dish!