In the same twisted way we enjoy fries with ice cream, or peanut butter with grilled meat, somehow the research department behind the new wasabi and hot wing Oreo flavors probably thought this was genius.
Last week, Mondelez International announced two new flavors for the popular black-and-white cookie: Japanese wasabi and hot chicken wings—exclusive to China, only.
We immediately ordered a batch on Taobao (China’s Amazon), in time for a live taste test on camera with Ravi Hiranand, from our sister publication, Abacus.
First, the box design proudly cross-promotes the other flavor, so you know wasabi and hot wings were meant to be tried as twin curiosities.
Tearing open the packaging of the hot wings, you immediately get a savory chicken-like whiff bursting out. I say chicken-like, because it’s more like chicken seasoning powder than chicken chicken.
Biting into one, you get the same crunchy Oreo texture, and it’s still sweet overall, but with the unmistakable taste of chicken barbecue pushing through your nose. And it was even kind of mildly spicy at the end.
It was even kind of mildly spicy at the end.
“Smells like Oreos with a side of body odor,” declared Ravi. No, Ravi. That’s just ruined my day.
Next up, wasabi. Now, the wasabi smelled a lot more genial. It didn’t burst out of its packaging and declare its presence, but after you pop it in your mouth, it’s pretty clear you aren’t eating a regular Oreo.
Like with the chicken, the wasabi flavor kicks in a lot more toward the end, and even carries a hint of the kind of pungent burn you get with the mustard-like paste.
Overall, it was okay. It wasn’t as strange as we expected them to taste.
But unlike with honey-on-pizza, or potato chips dipped in chocolate, we probably weren’t able to ignore our notions of what regular Oreos already taste like, in order to accept this new twist.
Oh yeah, and the box comes with instructions asking you to dunk the cookies in milk, just like the regular version. That may be a little too far.
This bold idea is part of Mondelez’s latest move to reach new eaters in the massive Chinese market. Over a decade ago, it already reinvented itself for the Chinese market, when it realised that Oreos weren’t selling too well there.
Over a decade ago, the Oreo was already reinvented for the Chinese market.
Some of the steps it took: making the Oreo less sweet, changing the cookie’s formula for the first time in its 93-year history, and coming up with a wafer version, because that was a more popular form factor in China at the time.
So a radical flavor gimmick just for China is right up there with the kinds of bold moves it’s made before. And it may well work in a market that doesn’t have an emotional attachment to the original Oreo.
Watch the full livestream, where we taste tested the Oreos, talked Apple products you can burn as offerings to the dead, and Ravi's first impressions of DJI's brand new drone, the Mavic 2 Pro.