(submitted and written by Natalie K.)
JYAs have a nostalgic connection to the kosher chocolate sandwich cookie known as Hydrox. Some claim to prefer their darker chocolate flavor and sweeter crème, while others contend that Hydrox imitator, the Nabisco Oreo, deserves its overwhelming mainstream popularity on the merits of its superior taste. Curiously, this nostalgia trend holds regardless of the preference of the individual, regardless of whether the JYA keeps kosher now, did so as a child, or only encountered the cookie at Camp Gesher.
In a familiar story that, in many ways, mirrors the development of Judaism itself the invention of Hydrox preceded the development of the Oreo, but its antecedence and innovation are no longer recognized—indeed, many assume that Hydrox is the imitation and Oreo the original product, a confusion that may be compounded by the awkward product name more reminiscent of an industrial cleaner than a dessert food.
Nostalgia does not, however, translate into unequivocal support for Hydrox. More than Kurt Cobain’s death, more than the fall of the Berlin Wall, many JYAs will select 1998, the year that Oreos became kosher, as a pivotal moment in their coming of age experience.
Due to the emotional resonance of the conflict, most JYAs will solicit the opinions of their peers on the topic, and will staunchly defend their preferred crème sandwich. While it may be tempting to suggest a compromise, JYAs are reluctant to accept this preference as a difference of opinion and are prepared to supply evidence and anecdotes to support their claims.
After losing hold on the kosher market, Hydrox (renamed Droxies in 1999) could not compete with the superior advertising power and name recognition of the Oreo, and the brand was discontinued in 2003. If Hydrox had been continued, 2008 would mark the brand’s centenary and it would still find supporters in at least half of the JYA community.