U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 30 mins

Watermelon Oreos: The Latest Twist on an Iconic Cookie

The Exchange

Watermelon in cookie form. The perfect summer food?

Nabisco hopes Oreo purists and non-fans alike will be taking a bag of the new, limited edition fruit-flavored cookies to their next picnic.

The Watermelon Oreos, available only at Target (TGT) for $3 a package, feature a bright pink and green creme filling between two vanilla-flavored cookies; the creme bears a strong resemblance to Play-Doh. Two cookies contain 150 calories, 7 grams of fat and 21 grams of carbohydrates.

Food bloggers had plenty to say about the new summer flavor. JunkFoodGuy wrote that he was expecting an “awful fake watermelon smell to come wafting out” but there was none. “As soon as I bit into one of these Limited Edition Watermelon Golden Oreos, I got an immediate light watermelon taste. I’ll just say it right off the bat…I liked these. A LOT.”

FoodJunk.com’s conclusion: “The vanilla cookies take up most of the space on the flavor profile pie chart. Seventy-five percent or so. But it’s the subtlety of the cream that makes the cookie work as a whole. Too much watermelon, and the effort would be a mess.”

"We think that Watermelon is a fun summer creme flavor that goes great with our Golden Oreo cookie," a spokeswoman for Mondelez Global (MDLZ) said in an email. (Mondelez owns Nabisco, which makes Oreos, in addition to other snack foods including Triscuit, Wheat Thins, Chips Ahoy and Ritz. It was formerly Kraft Foods Inc. and is a spinoff of Kraft Food Groups, Inc.)

Weird, counterintuitive flavors aren’t new; newfangled concoctions are one way snack food makers have to differentiate themselves in a crowded industry. Earlier this year Lay’s (owned by Pepsico Inc.) unveiled Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chip flavor, the winner of its $1 million "Do Us a Flavor" contest. And (in an arguably stomach-turning move) Pringles last year introduced White Chocolate Peppermint and Pumpkin Pie Spice potato chip flavors.

“These line extensions have been happening for quite some time and will continue to happen. It brings excitement to a category and brings consumers to a particular aisle in the grocery store,” says Erin Lash, a senior equity analyst at Morningstar who covers consumer product companies. Consumers are still keeping a tight grip on their wallets, and have even shown more willingness to trade down to lower-priced offerings, Lash says. So branded companies have to continuously innovate to compel consumers to stay loyal and continue to purchase their items over a cheaper private-label brand.

Oreo itself has a history of limited-edition cookies, which has included gingerbread, candy corn, dulce de leche, birthday cake, Creamsicle, and Shure, Bert, another recent addition.

Snack food makers seem to be taking a cue from fast food chains by ramping up their limited time offers as an added inducement to consumers (McDonald’s had Fish McBites during Lent and Einstein Bros. offered St. Patrick’s Day bagels in March).

Junkfoodguy author Eric Huang says brand name companies such as Frito-Lay, Nabisco and Pepperidge Farm are responding to flavor trends being tested either by smaller companies or competitors. Pringles released limited-time only Frank's Hot Sauce flavored Pringles shortly after Ruffles came out with their Molten Hot Wing flavored potato chips. And when, for example, a small gelato company such as Talenti starts gaining nationwide traction, Haagen-Dazs releases their own complete gelato line, Huang says.

What do you think of Watermelon Oreos? Have you tried them? If not, would you?