Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First Jesus, and now HYDROX

You probably well-remember HYDROX; that inscrutable, non-capitulating rival to the beloved Oreo, which mysteriously vanished from grocery store shelves sometime in the somewhat-distant past. Like me, you probably can't pinpoint when you realized HYDROX were gone, in fact you probably didn't even realize it until just now, but somehow you already knew. It's not like figuring out when "Black Hole Sun" was popular. I can link that song to stalking an ex-girlfriend of mine; we weren't yet dating--proof that stalking DOES work (try it kids!).


But with HYDROX, I can only remember the feeling of confusing disappointment when I would open the kitchen cabinet, see what I thought was a thing of Oreos (it's not really a bag), but then see that it was instead HYDROX. I kinda remember thinking, "Okay, well, they're pretty much Oreos, right? I mean, Mom still loves me, maybe she's just too busy to realize she bought HYDROX and not Oreos, or maybe they were on sale or something. They're fine and all, but maybe I forgot to bring it up last time we got HYDROX instead of Oreos. Do I even care? I do care...I think."

Some of the more offbeat families were the HYDROX families. It was pretty clear upon stepping into a house that you were going to find HYDROX, in addition to other weird brands like Oh Henry!, generic Safeway "Froot Hoops," and those offputting pink coconut things. HYDROX families were typified by frantic, tightly-wound parents and kids with multiple siblings and no restraint for declaring possession. HYDROX were plentiful and frequent mainstays at these homes.

I've spoken before about the destruction and dessication caused by the Cola Wars, but what to make of the muted struggle between cookie manufacturing juggernauts Keebler (HYDROX) and Nabisco (Oreo). Sources close to Keebler will say that it decided to pull HYDROX out of the competition because of dragging demand due to the notion that the cookie contained poisonous chemicals ("hydrox" happens to be a popular molecular binding agent), but it may surprise you to learn that the Jews killed HYDROX. Yes, first Jesus, and now HYDROX.

Until the late 90's, if they wanted to enjoy a scrumptious creme-filled cookie snack, kosher Jews were relegated to eating HYDROX since the ingredients and processing of Oreo cookies did not lend itself to kosherness; maybe it was the Yellow #5. For years, all parties were happy: Sunshine Biscuits (original maker of the HYDROX) had its captive market base, the Jews had their kosher cookies, and RJR-Nabisco had its insurmountable lead without having to pander to a bifurcating vocal liberal religious minority. Things changed when rival Keebler managed a lunchtime hostile takeover of the Sunshine Biscuits corporate headquarters in late Fall of 1996, and act which forced RJR-Nabisco's hand and forever changed the face of creme-filled cookie eating across the U.S.

In retaliation at such audacity, and foreseeing a violent marketing push for HYDROX on the horizon, RJR-Nabisco's food engineers (read, "chemists") hurriedly reworked the Oreo formula to fit into kosher standards, and thus flanking HYDROX's devout market base. Ignorant of the corporate D-Day taking place, Jewish children everywhere thankfully ate up their new kosher Oreo snackfoods, just happy to be part of mainstream kid Oreo-eating society.

The move crushed HYDROX in a matter of months, leaving the elves at Keebler reeling; Keebler stock fell almost 25% that quarter, and Keebler magic plummeted 70%. Not long after, Keebler rose the white flag and pulled HYDROX off the shelves and out of production forever. Nobody noticed.

And that's how the Jews killed HYDROX.

2 comments:

adspar said...

I think I've fairly recently seen "droxies" in the stores, which at the time I just assumed was some kind of lame attempt to modernize the name by the Hydrox people, but in retrospect that was probably just the store-brand generic version.

Didn't Hydrox come before Oreo? I suppose I could look it up but I'd rather just speculate.

Brice Lord said...

According to Jewish folklore, HYDROX was given to the Levites on top of Mt. Fudge, which is next to Mt. Sinai. So yes, HYDROX did indeed precede Oreos by some 2,400 years.