According to this 2012 NPR featured audio cast and article, Oreos (yes, that classic American “twist, lick, dunk,” black on the outside, white creamy filling on the inside cookie, was way too sweet and bitter for the average Chinese consumer. What’s more, who ever heard of twisting, licking, and dunking a cookie!
For around 100 years the Oreo’s 135 components of bitterness, burntness, sweet and creaminess, roastedness, etc. have remained virtually untinkered with–who would dare disturb a formula that worked so well!?
The makers of Oreo wrongly thought that just sticking a Chinese label on a tried and true classic product would yield major sales. While sales didn’t plunge like they might if a cosmetics company tried to sell tanning gel to Chinese women who are obsessive about keeping a white complexion, they only did “OK.” It took the company ten years to finally survey the Chinese to learn that Oreos were too sweet and bitter for their taste.
The solution: make Oreos the way the Chinese would like them. Now you can see rectangular Oreos that are more chocolaty, green tea flavors, etc. Some of them won’t twist, but dunking might still be an option. And now that efforts have been made to modify this icon of non-fluctuating tastes, the new, changed lines are available in Australasia and Canada now. The real irony would be if these alien Oreos make it back to the USA and beat classic cookie sales by a large margin.