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Researchers twist open over 1,000 Oreos to discover the best method

The MIT scientists involved said they were searching for a way to make their physics work more understandable by testing creme-wafer adhesion.
Images of Oreo cookies.
Posted at 6:29 AM, Mar 24, 2023

Researchers twisted open more than 1,000 Oreo cookies in a quest to figure out the best method for opening up the classic snack. 

The MIT scientists involved said they were searching for a way to make their physics work more understandable. 

Graduate student Crystal Owens and undergraduate Max Fan wanted to find out if the cookies could be twisted open with the cream filling still stuck to both of the chocolate wafers. 

Owens told the Wall Street Journal that they were also trying to have it be a "fun, easy way to make her regular physics and engineering work more accessible to the general public," in a report that MIT News shared on Wednesday.

Oreos are a massively popular cookie. The brand's parent company, Mondelez International, boasts sales of over $2 billion each year

The team did all sorts of experiments to get their data, including gluing various flavored Oreos to a rheometer, which is a machine that can control stress, strain and strain rate. 

What they found was that in their rheology examinations, there could be a practical application in improving "the processing of" foods like chocolate in order to "more evenly distribute" foods like "cocoa butter" and "thereby enhancing quality."

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Think about fondue. The flow of cheese can be controlled by adding the ethanol found in wine, or by adding a starch like corn flour, the researchers said. This sort of thinking was applied to their study of twisting an Oreo to see if the center filling would stay on both wafers. 

The researchers found that in the production of Oreos, the cream filling is applied to the first chocolate wafer, and then the second is added on top. This process causes the first wafer to experience more contact with the filling and therefore more "creme-wafer adhesion."

They also found that the filling is actually considered more of a fluid. "There was no combination of anything that we could do by hand or in the rheometer that changed anything in our results," the researchers said. 

They found that the way the cookies are stored in the packaging also affects the way the creme adheres to the wafers. 

In one of the final results of the study, scientists recommended that the company construct the cookie differently if customers demanded a different result with the twist. 

They found that it might yield a different result if the wafers were flipped and the cream filling was adhered to the textured side. 

Mondelez Internationalresponded to the study, writing, "We want to congratulate these amazing scientific minds and applaud their dedication to our cookie twisting ritual."