There are plenty of ways to eat an Oreo: Some twist it open, scrape off the creme filling with their teeth then eat the bare cookies individually, while others enjoy it in whole sandwich form, maybe dunking it in milk. If you're the former type of Oreo-eater, who prefers to enjoy their cookie in two pieces, a new MIT study — yes, MIT — offers advice on how to make that experience as enjoyable as possible.
Crystal Owens, a Ph.D. candidate who studies mechanical engineering, told TODAY Food that, at first, the idea to study Oreos came about because, put simply, "Oreos are interesting."
Owens is currently researching "yield stress foods," items like Oreos and toothpaste that fall between the boundaries of liquid and solid items. Owens said that a machine called a rheometer uses a twisting motion to examine the food items, and she realized that the machine’s movement was similar to the one someone might use while twisting open an Oreo.
"When I combined that machine with I guess some latent childhood curiosities about how to make Oreos more delicious, which in my opinion is to get the creme evenly on the side … that whole concept inspired the study," Owens explained.
To aid in her research, Owens created the "Oreometer," a 3D-printed device based off the rheometer. That machine was used to twist apart a variety of Oreo cookies, including ones kept in perfect conditions.
"If you think about it, if you twist it perfectly, you should be able to get the cream to split exactly in the middle, right?" Owens said. "And so I just wanted to see if there if it’s possible to do that if there’s any sort of trick or twisting that can make that happen. And so then we could use our laboratory rheometer to apply all sorts of complex, precisely programmed twisting motions to see what was possible."
However, the results were messier than Owens anticipated: Instead of coming up with the perfect movement, she and her team found there was no way to get the creme to split evenly on both sides.
"I was actually very frustrated by that," said Owens. "In my opinion, the Oreo cookie tastes best if you can have a little bit of creme and a little bit of wafer on each side."
Owens’ study found that in most cases, the results show "adhesive failure, in which nearly all (95%) of the creme remains on one wafer after failure."
According to the study’s abstract, that can be attributed to the "production process" that happens before Oreos hit the shelves. According to the study, the "creme-heavy side" of the cookie is "uniformly oriented within most of the boxes of Oreos."
The real answer, Owens said, is that the creme is "stronger" than the wafer, so the creme "wants to stay intact" instead of splitting evenly along the two cookies.
"You’ll end up with one bare wafer, which is kind of dry in my opinion, and one that has a bit too much creme," Owens said.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, well, there was another Oreo study in 2016 from Princeton University in which physicists also came to the conclusion that an Oreo will almost always split with the creme on one side.
In a statement to TODAY, Justin Parnell, Oreo’s vice president of marketing and strategy, cheered on Owens' creative study.
"Over the years, we’ve been asked countless times how to twist an OREO cookie and have the creme evenly distributed on both OREO cookie wafers," Parnell said in an email. "Many have tried to figure out that very question — rest assured, there isn’t a secret that we’ve been hiding — but none have gone to such playful lengths as Crystal Owens and her team of researchers. We want to extend a huge congratulations to these brilliant minds and applaud their dedication to our cookie twisting ritual. America’s favorite cookie thanks you!"
If you’re not satisfied with the study, you can try to replicate the results yourself: Owens said that the Oreometer can be 3D printed by anyone with access to the right materials. Perhaps, someday, you'll be able to achieve the perfect creme-to-wafer ratio. Someday.