Cookie Controversy: Hydrox Accuses Oreo of Retail Sabotage
Like Coke and Pepsi, Oreo and Hydrox have been engaged in a century-long retail product feud. Released in 1908, four years before the first Oreo rolled off the factory lines, Hydrox has long had to contend with the perception they’re the knock-off. Oreo became the preferred chocolate-and-cream cookie snack, with most citing Nabisco (and now Mondelēz) as having the marketing muscle to smother their smaller competitor.
But according to a new Federal Trade Commission complaint filed by Hydrox, Oreo’s success isn’t strictly the result of deeper corporate pockets. Leaf Brands, the current owners of Hydrox, are alleging that Mondelēz is engaged in acts of store sabotage to keep Oreo the king of the cookie hill.
According to a story in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Leaf is arguing that their kosher-approved Hydrox isn't getting fair representation at the retail level. They claim Mondelēz sales representatives that do the stocking directly for stores rearrange product so that Hydrox are obscured or otherwise out of sight for consumers while Oreos are displayed prominently.
A Facebook post on the official Hydrox page confirms that the company has taken its allegation to the FTC in the hopes of getting Mondelēz to stop the delicious espionage. “We … have been very frustrated with the hiding of our cookies at major retailers [so] we finally filed an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last week in which we claim they have been trying to make it hard to find our cookies in stores nationally, in hopes of lowering sales volume and having us discontinued.”
The company goes on to state that Hydrox are stocked by store employees, not Hydrox representatives, and any cookie-shuffling on Mondelēz’s part is hard to correct. Leaf says they became aware of the problem when a major food buyer expressed reservations about carrying Hydrox, citing concerns that Mondelēz “will hide your cookies” in stores. The Facebook post is accompanied by several surveillance photos of Hydrox packages being obscured by other products or hanging shelf displays. In one instance, the cookie was buried under a cloak of Nutter Butters.
Gizmodo reached out to Mondelēz, which issued a statement saying that the company was “confident” the accusation “had no merit.”