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MIT researchers publish breakthrough study investigating whether the Oreo creme can be evenly split

They took a methodical approach to solve the mystery and even invented an 'Oreometer' to twist the Oreos open.

MIT researchers publish breakthrough study investigating whether the Oreo creme can be evenly split
Cover Image Source: Instagram/Oreo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 25, 2022. It has since been updated.

Your favorite cookie now has a new field of science dedicated to it: Oreology. This novel field of science attempts to understand the flow and fracture of the iconic Oreo cookie to find the best eating experience, including whether it's actually possible to separate the two sides of the cookie sandwich with an equal amount of creme filling on each. In a study published in April 2022, in the journal American Institute of Physics, a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dug deep into the probability of achieving an equal creme ratio in an Oreo when twisting it open.

Speaking to VICE, study author Crystal Owens—a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at MIT—explained what inspired her to embark on this journey. "I was personally motivated by a desire to solve a challenge that had puzzled me as a child: how to open an Oreo and get creme evenly arranged on both wafers?" Owens shared. "I preferred the taste of the cookies with the creme exposed. If I got a bite of wafer alone it was too dry for me, and if I dunked it in milk the wafer would fall apart too fast."



 

"When I came to MIT, I learned how to use our laboratory rheometer, which twists a fluid sample between parallel disks to measure the viscosity," she continued. "I originally used our rheometer to test a carbon nanotube-based ink I was designing to 3D print flexible electronics, but one day I realized I had the tools and knowledge to finally solve this challenge with Oreos." As Owens and her colleagues set out to tackle the challenge, their hope was that with the perfect twist, they could manipulate the cookie's filling to distribute evenly between the two wafer cookies. They took a methodical approach to solve the mystery and even invented an "Oreometer" which, according to the study, is a 3D-printed device "designed for Oreos and similarly dimensioned round objects."



 

The team visually inspected the ratio of creme on each wafer after twisting Oreos apart and logged the findings. They also introduced a number of variations to the experiment, such as dipping the cookies in milk, changing the rotation rate of the device and testing different Oreo flavors and filling quantities. However, despite their best efforts, the researchers were not able to find a solution to the creme distribution problem. "The results validated what I saw as a child—we found no trick for opening up our Oreos," Owens said. "In essentially all possible twisting configurations, the creme tends to delaminate from one wafer, resulting in one nearly bare wafer and one with almost all the creme."



 

"In the case that creme ends up on both wafers, it tends to divide in half so that each wafer has a 'half-moon' of creme rather than a thin layer, so there is no secret to get creme evenly everywhere just by twisting open—you have to mush it manually if that's what you want," she added. "This was surprising to me because I had imagined that if you twist the Oreo perfectly, you will get the cream to divide perfectly, but that's just not how the physics works." Owens said she was also surprised to learn that Oreos aren't filled with cream, but creme, which "is actually more of a frosting than a cream like cream cheese or cream fillings" in pastries. "The rheology is similar for the different fluids, though," she added. 



 

According to USA TODAY, marketing for Oreos has often challenged cookie lovers to try twisting the cookies open so that the creme filling is evenly distributed on both wafers. "Many have tried to figure out that very question—rest assured, there isn't a secret that we've been hiding—but none have gone to such playful lengths as Crystal Owens and her team of researchers," Justin Parnell, Oreo's vice president of marketing and strategy, said in a statement. "We want to extend a huge congratulations to these brilliant minds and applaud their dedication to our cookie twisting ritual."



 

Meanwhile, there is good news for people who prefer all the creme on one cookie when twisting open an Oreo. According to Owens, there's just one stipulation: The Oreo needs to be from a freshly opened pack and separated with a twisting motion. Owens now hopes her work will make people think about the scientific concepts that underpin their daily snacks and indulgences. "With such a convenient name as 'Oreology,' I hope our study makes more people familiar with my research field, 'rheology' and the kinds of questions we can answer well," she said. "It's also a perfect visual example of how our rheometer works, so it is a great introduction to the field that is relatable. We have shared our 3D printing files and hope people can make and use our device directly to do their own Oreology. I hope this study also simply inspires people to take puzzles that they're curious about in the world around them and use science to find the answers."

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