Created in 1908, Hydrox was the original chocolate sandwich cookie, but it was Oreo (which first went on sale four years later in 1912) that ended up dominating the market. In the decades since, Hydrox has been something of a cult favorite compared to its younger, more recognizable competitor—a battle for biscuit supremacy that took a dark turn this week with an accusation of cookies being hidden on shelves.
On Monday, Hydrox announced on Facebook that it had filed an official complaint with the FTC accusing Mondelez, the owner of Oreo, of making Hydrox cookies harder to find in stores. According to Hydrox, a buyer for “one of the largest store chains” in the U.S. warned them that “Mondelez is going to hide your cookies all over our stores to make sure you don’t get any sales, in hopes of being discontinued.”
Fears of discontinuation loom large in the minds of Hydrox lovers: After a less-than-successful effort to rebrand the cookies as “Droxies,” the product was removed from the market entirely by owner Kellogg’s in 2003 before being relaunched by Leaf Brands in 2015.
As proof of Mondelez’s alleged malfeasance, Hydrox posted pictures showing their cookies obscured behind other products, moved onto shelves outside customers’ direct line of sight, and more. Hydrox claims that, in some cases, its shelf space was taken by “another flavor of Oreo or Nutter Butters.”
Hydrox thinks that Mondelez’s use of direct store distribution (where the Oreo maker restocks the product instead of grocery stores themselves) allows its delivery personnel to move competing Hydrox cookies to less desirable locations. In response to Hydrox’s Facebook post, a few users posted comments supporting the allegations, with one person claiming that an employee at their local grocery store said “the Oreo folks threatened to cut back on their deliveries if Hydrox wasn’t dropped.”
When we reached out to Mondelez for comment, a company spokesman told Gizmodo that Mondelez is “confident that this accusation has no merit. The OREO brand is an iconic one, with a proud and rich history of delivering great tasting products and exciting innovations to our consumers for more than a century. This focus, and our commitment to operating with integrity, has made OREO America’s favorite cookie.”
As fans of cookies of all shapes and types, we hope that Hydrox and Oreo can settle their differences and go back to selling sugary treats based on each cookie’s individual merits. And if one brand ends up prevailing, maybe that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
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