BANKIE’S HOT TAKE #20 - Hydrox Cookies
When I was a kid, my dad spoiled me with great junk food.
My earliest childhood memories were me devouring WWF Ice Cream Bars from the ice cream truck that drove past my grandmother’s apartment in Queens. Diving into Happy Meals from McDonalds on Myrtle Ave. And the endless variety of candy bars from the local corner stores.
Yet, there was one sweet that remained my favorite for the longest time. Even after it was discontinued, it stayed fresh in my mind with the hope that one day it would return.
They are: HYDROX COOKIES made by Sunshine Biscuits.
The Hydrox cookie was created in 1908 by the The Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company. In 1946, the company rebranded as Sunshine Biscuits.
I knew about Sunshine Biscuits because their production factory was right next to the fields where I played recreational soccer in Sayreville, NJ. Some days, the smell of the baking distracted me. The delicious fragrance perfumed the air, a mix of cookies, crackers, and snacks wafted right onto the field.
Sunshine Biscuits is best known for producing Cheez-Its, Krispy saltine crackers, and Vienna Fingers cookies.
However, Hydrox Cookie was the crown jewel of the Sunshine Biscuits brand. Before I researched it, I was convinced that Hydrox were a rip-off of the Oreo cookie.
I was completely and utterly wrong.
Oreos were actually created by Nabisco in 1912, as a counter to the Hydrox. Over the years, Oreos took over in popularity. And despite what people believed, Hydrox was not a ripoff of the Oreo.
Hydrox draws its names from the hydrogen and oxygen, the molecules that make up water. And it was inspired by “purity and goodness.” Similarly to today’s Oreo - Hydrox is made with two small chocolate cookie shells with creme filling in the middle. However, unlike an Oreo, there was less filling and the focus was more on the outside. Hydrox had more ridges on the cookie and small, but decorative “Hydrox” in the middle.
In 1996, Sunshine Biscuits merged with Keebler Company. Within a few years, the Sayreville plant closed down. It was replaced by the Garden State Technology Center, which underwent a $50 million renovation.
By 1999, Hydrox was discontinued by Keebler, and replaced by a similar cookie called “Droxies”. They were discontinued by 2003. With the exception of a few small limited revivals in the late 2000s, Hydrox disappeared from market shelves for good. However, in 2012, Carvel used Hydrox’s formula for the crunchies in their ice cream cake.
While the demise of Hydrox cookies bothered me, it really took a toll on my dad. Papa Bruce LOVED his Hydrox cookies. He loved them so much that he once jokingly said that when he died, he wished he could be buried in a Hydrox bag.
Dark? Yes. True? Also yes.
Hydrox was a cookie my Dad and I bonded over. It was just that good.
When my Dad did pass away, I was devastated. I also thought back to his wishes to be buried with the Hydrox bag. We searched eBay for any remnants of Hydrox, but we had to settle for a box of Mallomars. It was a suitable replacement; however, I wished it was Hydrox. It would’ve been more fitting.
For years, I’ve thought about the history of Hydrox and whether or not it was remembered. I went on YouTube and searched for Hydrox commercials. I came across two - one from the 1960s and one from 1988. Although different, I enjoyed them both, especially the 1988 one due to its goofy nature.
When I started my research, I Wikipedia’d Hydrox. Skimming through the article, I was not expecting much, until I noticed this quote:
In 2014, Leaf Brands registered the "Hydrox" trademark, which had been abandoned by former owner Kellogg's. Leaf began production of its version of Hydrox on September 4, 2015, at the company’s facility in Vernon, California.
WHAT??!!! How could this be? HOW DID I NOT KNOW? WHO IS LEAF BRANDS?
According to their website at http://leafbrands.com:
For over 40 years, Leaf Brands have been introducing America’s favorite candy to people all over the world. Originally, Leaf Brands® was started in the 1920’s by the members of the Leaf family. Leaf was responsible for producing such candy classics as Whoppers®, Milk Duds®, Jolly Rancher® and Rain Blo Bubblegum®, just to name a few classic Leaf brands.
Today, the company, based out of Newport Beach, California, is reviving some of your favorite candies from yesteryear. Our current confectionery delights include Astro Pops®, Bonkers!®, David's "Beyond Gourmet" Jelly Beans®, Farts Candy®, Hydrox Cookies®, tart n' tinys®, and Wacky Wafers®.
A respect for old school treats? I was instantly in.
After finding the Hydrox portion of the site, I instantly got taken back to my childhood even more.
Here’s the major takeaway: After we acquired Hydrox® in 2015, we rolled back the formula to GET RID of the high fructose corn syrup, replacing it with REAL cane sugar and removed the hydrogenated oils as well. In addition, as of February 2017, we also wanted to create a 'cleaner label' for our customers so we got rid of all artificial flavors and GMOs so Hydrox is now non-GMO as well! You can enjoy 'America's original sandwich cookie', Hydrox® made in the USA and know what's in it. We're kinda proud of that!
A non-GMO cookie? Non-processed crap? Pure old-school processes to make a good cookie?
I NEEDED SOME.
I tried to buy some on Amazon, but they were sold out. What’s a man to do?
With help from my fearless leader, Jon Harder, we wrote an email to Leaf Brands about the availability of Hydrox on the market. Nine times out of ten, we don’t get responses. Just the name of the game.
Within an hour, a wonderful sales representative from Leaf responded. Boy, did we get a helpful response.
Hydrox is sold at Cracker Barrel and Menards, as well as Amazon. The big one: Walmart.com!
He even emailed me a link to purchase. I immediately clicked. I will share it in this article: https://lnkd.in/gmecPUH9
In the coming days, once I receive them in the mail, I will do a #BANKONIT review on how current day Hydrox are. Will they hold up? Only time will tell. But the fact that I emailed and got an immediate response back from Leaf Brands showed me that they care about fan feedback.
More importantly, I will make sure to eat one with my old man at his resting place personally, to share that one bond with him we shared.
The Hydrox Cookie doesn’t get treated with the respect it deserves. Some people make fun of the name, others remember it as an “Oreo knockoff”.
Hydrox was an experience. It was as Metropolitan as it gets - created in New York, manufactured in New Jersey. Personally, it was better than the Oreo, and I can’t wait to try them again.