Haven’t heard about it? Well, you’ve probably studied it – experimenting with dipping, twisting and separating to find the best Oreo eating experience.
Whether you prefer the filling intact on one half of the cookie or evenly spread on opening, scientists have been asking a long-standing question: How do you make sure you get Oreo exactly the way you want it every time?
“When I was little, I tried to twist the waffles to evenly divide the cream between the waffles so there was a little on both halves – which in my opinion tastes much better than one waffle with a lot of cream and one with almost no. It was hard to do when I tried it by hand, ”said Crystal Owens, lead author on a study published Tuesday in the American Institute of Physics and a mechanical engineering researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
So she picked it up for the notch. Scientists developed an Oreometer, a device designed to split a cookie using a scientifically precise torque value (a measure of the force used to rotate an object).
They hoped that with the perfect twist, scientists would be able to manipulate the filling of the biscuit to spread evenly between the two waffle biscuits. Unfortunately, they couldn’t.
“We learned, unfortunately, that even if you roll the Oreo perfectly, the cream will almost always end up mostly in one of the two wafers, with the cream delaminated, and there is no easy way to divide it between the wafers,” Owens said. For those of us who are not Oreo scientists, delamination is when something breaks down into layers.
If you managed to separate the cake evenly, it probably wasn’t the result of your delicate, precise work, according to the study. It has more to do with the level of adhesion between the cream and the cookie, which is altered by a certain factor before it gets into your hands.
This might be a question for later study.
“We haven’t even started answering all the questions someone might have asked about Oreos or cookies, so we created our Oreometer so that anyone who has access to a 3D printer could take other measurements,” Owens said.
Serious learning for a stupid question
Randy Ewoldt, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was reviewing research one night when his 11-year-old son looked over his shoulder.
He knows that his dad works in rheology, the branch of physics that studies the flow of matter between liquids and solids, but like most children, he doesn’t care much for Dad’s work. That is, until he saw the word Oreo on the paper.
“When we talk about the physics of complex materials, and there are many, Oreo cookie cream is immediately available to many people,” Ewoldt said. “To introduce people to a much more complex world, this could serve as a way to get into it.”
The research is in Owen’s mind every time he has Oreo, and now he hopes to interest people outside of the field as well.
“I hope people can use this information to improve cookie eating when they open an Oreo or dip it in milk,” Owens said. “Hopefully people can also get inspiration to explore other puzzles in the kitchen in a scientific way.
“The best research, even at MIT, is driven by a curiosity to understand the world around us when someone sees something strange or unfamiliar and takes the time to think,” I wonder why is this happening? “