‘Oreology’ study solves mystery of best way to open an Oreo

Milk’s favorite cookie has a new field of science dedicated to it: Oreology, the study of the flow and fracture of sandwich cookies.

Everyone has their own way of snacking on Oreos, whether it’s twisting the sandwich cookie to eat two separate parts, dunking it into milk or just shoving the whole thing into one’s mouth.

However, if your preferred method is twisting it into two parts, you might have noticed that the inside filling typically sticks to just one side or the other.

With that in mind, diligent researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have tried to figure out whether it’s actually possible to keep the creme filling split evenly when separating the two chocolate wafers.

“I was personally motivated by a desire to solve a challenge that had puzzled me as a child: How to open an Oreo and get creme evenly arranged on both wafers?” Crystal Owens, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at MIT, told Vice in an email.

Researchers at MIT tried to figure out whether it’s possible to keep the creme filling split evenly.
Crystal Owens
Oreo
Oreology is the study of the flow and fracture of sandwich cookies.
Crystal Owens

Owens realized she could use some of the high-tech laboratory tools she had at her disposal to solve this ongoing Oreo enigma, so she and her colleagues invented an “Oreometer” — a 3D-printed device “designed for Oreos and similarly dimensioned round objects ,” according to the study.

The team twisted the sandwich apart with their new Oreo tech and earnestly inspected the creme-to-cookie ratio on each side. They also experimented with different variables, such as dunking the cookie in milk and using different Oreo flavors and filling amounts, including regular, Double Stuf and Mega Stuf.

Alas, the results weren’t stuffed with promise.

“The results validated what I saw as a child — we found no trick for opening up our Oreos,” Owens said.

Oreo
The team twisted the cookie sandwich apart with their new Oreometer.
Crystal Owens
Oreo
Cleanly breaking the cookie did depend on rotation rate.
Crystal Owens

“In the case that creme ends up on both wafers, it tends to divide in half so that each wafer has a ‘half-moon’ of creme, rather than a thin layer,” she continued, “so there is no secret to get creme evenly everywhere just by twisting open — you have to mush it manually if that’s what you want.”

The researchers classified Oreos as having a “mushy” texture and found that the cookie degrades quickly after being dunked in milk, as so often advertised, crumbling after about 60 seconds.

The research also suggests that the creme may be sticking to just one side because of how Oreos are manufactured, packaged and stored, which is out of the consumer’s control.

Oreo
Researchers invented an “Oreometer,” a 3D-printed device “designed for Oreos and similarly sized round objects.”
Crystal Owens
Oreo
The researchers classified Oreos as having a “mushy” texture.
Crystal Owens

Though they had no luck in discovering a definitive way to get the creme to spread evenly, the team found that cleanly breaking open the cookie did depend on rotation rate.

“If you try to twist the Oreos faster, it will actually take more strain and more stress to break them,” Owens said in a statement.

“So, maybe this is a lesson for people who are stressed and desperate to open their cookies.”

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