October 26, 2021

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What New Flavor Ideas Do You Have for Your Favorite Foods?

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Do you wish there were jalapeño Pop-Tarts or watermelon gummy bears? How about bacon-flavored Skittles? What new flavor ideas do you have for your favorite snacks?

As a consumer, do you like to have lots of choices? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by options?

And why are there so many Oreo flavors, anyway?

In “We Asked: Why Does Oreo Keep Releasing New Flavors?”, Jonah Engel Bromwich writes about the novelty Oreo enterprise’s true motive:

The team of people who come up with limited-edition Oreo flavors and collaborations is a half-dozen strong and extremely secretive. Their privacy is so tightly guarded, said Justin Parnell, the senior director of the Oreo brand, that he could not even reveal the team’s name.

But their efforts are made public every time Oreo announces a new variety. (The latest: a salmon-colored cookie with malachite-green filling, released with Lady Gaga in honor of her 2020 album, “Chromatica.”) “Their job is really how do we continue to excite our fans and drive growth through flavor innovation,” Mr. Parnell said.

Since releasing the Birthday Cake Oreo in 2012 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its signature cookie, Oreo has introduced 65 flavors, including, in the last three years alone, Hot Chicken Wing Oreos, Wasabi Oreos, Crispy Tiramisù Oreos and Carrot Cake Oreos. (Certain flavors are only available in specific markets; the Wasabi and Hot Chicken Wing Oreos were released in China.)

Over the years, there have been Blueberry Pie Oreos; Waffle & Syrup Oreos; Jelly Donut Oreos; Mississippi Mud Pie Oreos; Key Lime Pie Oreos; Piña Colada Oreo Thins; Banana Split Oreos; PB&J Oreos; Root Beer Float Oreos; Neapolitan Oreos; Peeps Oreos; and “Mystery Oreos,” which were eventually revealed to be churro flavored.

Novelty Oreos sell reasonably well. According to Nielsen, sales of flavored, seasonal and other novelty Oreos were up over 12 percent over the last three years.

But the sales are not the point. Novelty Oreos, according to Mr. Parnell, play a much purer role: They help drive consumers back to milk’s alleged favorite, the 108-year-old paterfamilias, the plain old Oreo. In other words, the new flavors function as advertisements for the original.

The article continues:

Many snack foods including Oreos have thrived during the pandemic, as consumers deal with the stress and boredom of isolation.

“Definitely snacking has been one of the stories of Covid,” said Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst at NPD Group. “Not just any old snack foods, but we saw a shift to more of an indulgent snacking. A shift away from the healthier or better-type-for-you foods.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • What new flavor ideas do you have for your favorite foods? What should Oreo’s next novelty flavor be?

  • Mr. Engel Bromwich writes that “[Oreo’s] new flavors function as advertisements for the original.” What do you think of this strategy? Have you tried any of these novelty flavors? If so, do you prefer any of them over the original? Can you think of other companies that use splashy announcements to draw attention back to their core product?

  • How do you feel about the endless flavor experimentation permitted by highly processed foods? Do you think that having this many choices is a good thing? Have you ever experienced “choice paralysis,” “decision fatigue” or “F.O.B.O” — the Fear of Better Options?

  • The article mentions that consumers have been buying more snack foods during the pandemic. Have you noticed yourself eating more indulgent snacks? If so, what have been your go-to snacks? Are you worried by this trend, or do you think snacking is a reasonable source of comfort during a stressful time?

  • The author also writes about Oreo’s collaborations with brands and celebrities like Supreme and Lady Gaga. Are you more likely to buy a product if it is connected to a celebrity or brand? If you could collaborate with a brand on an exclusive product, what would it be?

About Student Opinion

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Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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