We Eat It So You Don't Have To: Red Velvet Oreos
Photo by Ryan Cady
It seems like once a month Nabisco rolls out a new flavor of Oreo usually to just quietly pull it from store shelves once the first round of sales reports trickles in. You can usual tell how good a new flavor is going to be by the amount of ridiculous Internet fan fare it receives, and for every over-hyped, three-separate-BuzzFeed-article flavor like Reese's Peanut Butter, there's two or three failures like Neapolitan or Limeade. Seriously, can anyone out there say that they tried Limeade Oreos and enjoyed them?
So right off the bat, I didn't have high hopes for Red Velvet Oreos, the foodie culture's flavor obsession circa 2010 - kinda missed the train there, Nabisco.
Photo by Ryan Cady
Now first off, the cookies came in this weird square box that was like half the size of your standard Nabisco cookie box. I was all excited; because like a Japanese schoolgirl in American cartoon, I think that smaller versions of large-sized things are really cute and fun. But food reviewing is dangerous, like weightlifting, so I always bring a spotter, like weightlifting. My spotter serves to keep me from dangerous over-eating, dangerous extreme eating, and, most importantly, dangerously high hopes for food that probably isn't gonna be very good.
"That makes sense," my spotter says, noting my abject glee about the tiny square box. "They make the boxes smaller to cut losses."
Of course they make the boxes smaller to cut losses, but that means they also make the boxes smaller to kill my dreams. I sat down with a glass of milk, now utterly crestfallen, and readied myself for the inevitably disappointing reality of another gimmicky Oreo flavor doomed to be discontinued.
But joke's on me, because these cookies were pretty much all about defying my expectations. When I imagine a Red Velvet Oreo, it's sort of crumbly and disappointing. My mind conjured images of oozy fake cream cheese slipping out of soggy cookies resulting in complete flavor failure. I imagined the cookie to be a little softer than it usually is, like they'd mixed in cake batter or used the mix from those weird soft Oreo things. But here I was clearly lacking in faith, because Nabisco came through and these cookies kicked ass.
The cookie discs on the Red Velvet Oreos were actually crisper than usual, for starters (which is weird, because they're reportedly just the regular disks with some food coloring). There was essentially no crumble - just an audible snap as the cookie split evenly at a bite. It was (almost) an improvement on your standard Oreo outer shell, with less mess and more flavor - which is also weird, because red velvet cake is basically chocolate cake with way less cocoa.
Photo by Ryan Cady
As for the filling, well, the words "red velvet" pretty much inspire an over-the-top Paula Deen idea of decadence. You can imagine Oreo filling gone horribly wrong with the addition of a well-preserved cream cheese substitute, but there was none of that here, either. I can't really identify the flavor of the filling, but it was only slightly more tangy than your standard Oreo - not cheesy in the slightest, but more like real frosting than Oreo cream. Above all, a good time was had.
And like any truly accomplished member of the Oreo family, once you add milk, these babies really sing. We tend to think of classic oreos as the standard by which all milk-cookie interactions should be judged, and I'm inclined to agree, but these Red Velvets might come in at a close second.
With the cookie shell crisper and tougher, the Red Velvets were able to soak up the same amount of milk that would make a classic Oreo go soggy, and maintain a refreshing, chewy texture. As you'd expect, the milk only served to complement the faux-dairy filling that, while becoming more delicious, still managed to taste nothing like cream cheese. And, honestly, that's probably a good thing. Cream cheese is an inferior frosting, and if you'd actually do your goddamn culinary history, you'd find that Red Velvet historically employs French-style butter roux icing, so quit trying to throw cream cheese on every single frosted treat and proclaim its "traditional." (I'm looking at you, Cinnabon - quit trying to screw with your already perfect dessert.)
Anyway, as I've already written far more than any grown man should about a gimmicky version of a mass-manufactured cookie based on a Southern debutante's dessert. I'm just gonna close with a masculinely grunted, "Yeah, they're pretty good."
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