Having the Right Recipe


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Greetings. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the invention of the Oreo cookie. It’s an event that is being honored with commemorative cookie packages, a dedicated web presence and a host (but not a “Hostess”) of special activities. All intended to honor a product that generates about $1.5 billion in annual sales, has a global footprint that reaches more than 100 countries and has over 25,000,000 Facebook friends. And you thought you and your company were popular?!

The original Oreo cookie was created and introduced by Nabisco on March 6, 1912 in its Chelsea, New York, factory and came in two super delicious flavors–cream and lemon meringue. And there was some controversy at the time about whether or not this taste sensation was a “knock-off” of Sunshine Bakeries’ Hydrox cookie which was invented four years earlier. And, as we all know, there is sometimes a fine line between innovation and copying–especially in the food business. But the enduring success of Oreos does hold some powerful lessons for the rest of us as we seek to build products, services and solutions that will stand the test of time.

First, that even the most successful offerings need to be revisited and updated, and the history of Oreos demonstrates a willingness to change with new designs and new fillings continuing to capture the imagination of consumers and dentists alike. While the lemon meringue filling only lasted until the 1920’s, other fillings and quantities of fillings have helped to stretch the brand and its fortunes…with each one containing just the right mix of “natural and artificial flavors.” I guess natural flavors aren’t quite good enough for the discerning palates of Oreo lovers.

Second, that many of the most successful offerings try hard to make a connection with something that customers are very fond of. In the case of Oreos, that something is “childhood” and the joy of having fun while eating cookies…without having to worry about cavities, cholesterol, gaining weight or eating healthy food. In fact, the latest promotion makes the experience of eating Oreos about as idyllic as one can imagine:

“Since 1912, we’ve made it our business to make life a little less serious.

In a world that’s become far too adult, a couple of Oreo cookies, a glass of milk, and a shared twist, lick and dunk is all it takes to set your inner kid loose.

Celebrate the kid inside all of us.”

And what about those of us who have fond memories of adulthood? Surely there must be a cookie for us.

But seriously…

The 100th anniversary of Oreos provides a great opportunity for all of us to think about our offerings and what it would take to keep them relevant and valuable for the next 5, 10, 20 or 100 years. To imagine the changes that will enable them to continue to connect with customers and the special place that we might transport customers to that makes their lives a bit less serious or a bit more successful.


We win in business and in life when we keep updating the products, services and solutions we offer. And when our offerings are perfect with a cold glass of milk.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.


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