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The Oreo Cookie: Not So Black and White

Is Kraft doing enough? That’s the underlying question in The Chicago Tribune’s series this week on the Oreo cookie. It’s the best-selling cookie on the planet, but, like the Big Mac, it contributes to this country’s current obesity epidemic. The Oreo’s recipe — almost 60% sugar and fat — is high in calories, with its creamy filling loaded with trans fat (which can elevate cholesterol and endanger your ticker).

Is Kraft doing enough? That’s the underlying question in The Chicago Tribune’s series this week on the Oreo cookie. It’s the best-selling cookie on the planet, but, like the Big Mac, it contributes to this country’s current obesity epidemic. The Oreo’s recipe — almost 60% sugar and fat — is high in calories, with its creamy filling loaded with trans fat (which can elevate cholesterol and endanger your ticker). Kraft’s conundrum: How can it act responsibly and market junk food at the same time?

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So far the company has introduced Oreo Thin Crisps, a lower-calorie cookie without the cream; shrunk the portion size; come out with smaller packages; launched a Sensible Snacking site; and announced that it will no longer advertise its least healthy products to kids under 12 (the first food giant to do so). It’s also in the process of retooling the Oreo recipe to eliminate trans fat.

Those are reasonable steps, but are they enough? Should Kraft go further and ditch the Oreo game on its site and Oreo stacking contests at Wal-Mart and curtail all kid-oriented marketing? Should it fund research into the addictive nature of sweets, which in some studies have triggered a similar neurological response as narcotics?

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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