Could You Tell a Real Oreo From the Knock-off in Your Grandma’s Pantry?

Sandwich cookies
Genuine Oreos wait to be taste tested at The Penny Hoarder. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Oreos.

I was a cynical child, so I grew up making them “drown” in my milk. (Maybe I still do? Maybe I’m still cynical? You decide.)

No matter how you eat them — whether you dunk them in milk, pull them apart, lick the icing first or devour them in one bite — they are delicious. So delicious, in fact, I thought they were called “America’s favorite cookie.” My officemates laughed and informed me the actual slogan is “milk’s favorite cookie.” **shrug**

Like many brand-name items, Oreos have plenty of cheaper knockoffs to contend with.

But is it worth it to ditch the posh, household-name cookie for a generic version in the name of savings? Do generic sandwich cookies taste just as delicious, or does nothing compare to the real deal?

I put a few Penny Hoarders to the test to find out.

The Ultimate Sandwich Cookie Duel

We love Double Stuffed Oreos, but to keep it fair, we put the original Oreo to the challenge.

The contenders? Generic versions of “Milk’s Favorite Cookie” from four popular supermarkets: Walmart, Target, Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

To keep things fair, taste testers weren’t allowed to look at their cookies before the first bite.

Sandwich cookies

We tested generic versions from Walmart Target, Costco, and Aldi.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

1. Great Value – Walmart

Cost: $1.98

Cost per ounce: 12.8 cents

According to our four taste testers, these weren’t too terrible.

Editorial intern Jacquelyn Pica and associate video producer Teyonna Edwards both said their cookies tasted “pretty good” — though Edwards could definitely tell it wasn’t an Oreo.

Editorial intern Matt Vandenburgh mentioned how he could tell the cream filling was “generic.”

The cookie was notably crunchy, and social media graphic designer Pareesa Khwaja — who called herself a “cookie connoisseur” multiple times during the taste test — had strong feelings about the cream “not separating cleanly” when she pulled the cookie apart.

“Separation is weak, the cream came off,” she said. “A good cookie would come off cleanly.”

Verdict: Mediocre

2. Market Pantry – Target

Cost: $1.97

Cost per ounce: 10.9 cents

Thoughts on Target’s generic sandwich cookie?

Well, they were… mixed.

Edwards took one bite and looked like she wanted to throw up.

“I’m not finishing that,” she said through a scrunched “ew” face.

Vandenburgh noted that the cookie was thinner than the first one, which he said was “a little better, but not much better.”

Khwaja tried dunking it in milk, which seemed to ease her disgust.

“This tastes better with milk,” she told me. “I wouldn’t eat it without milk because it tastes gross.”

Her furious cookie dunking ended with milk in her hair. (We’re serious about our taste tests here.)

Pica complained about the lack of cream filling. Isn’t that the point of a sandwich cookie? C’mon, Target.

Verdict: Sketchy. Proceed with caution.

Sandwich cookies

The Penny Hoarder staff wanted to see if we could taste the difference between store-brand Oreos and the real thing.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

3. Oreo

Cost: $2.99

Cost per ounce: 20.9 cents

Everyone pretty much knew these were Oreos — except for Khwaja. Let’s just say she had an existential crisis midbite.

“I don’t like this one. Do I not like Oreos? Was my whole life a lie?” she said as she stared off-camera for a while.

While Edwards wasn’t “100% sure” if it was an Oreo, she ate the entire cookie. She only took small bites out of all the other ones.

Vandenburgh looked at the cookie and smiled because he knew it was an Oreo.

Pica said it tasted like “the real deal.”

Verdict: They’re Oreos. Obviously they’re good.

4. Aldi

Cost: $1.69

Cost per ounce: 10.6 cents

Edwards complained about the lack of sweetness this cookie brought to the table. “I need to have my daily intake of sweets,” she said of the cheapest cookies in the taste test.

Vandenburgh took one bite and said, “Well, this is disappointing.”

After chewing for a few seconds, Khwaja realized there was a “minty” aftertaste.

“IT’S ALL A LIE,” she said, raising her voice. (And yes, in case you were wondering, she continued eating the cookie.)

Pica said it was “good,” she but noted the floral designs on the outside were “weird.”

Verdict: One big minty lie.

5. Trader Joe’s

Cost: $2.99

Cost per ounce: 15 cents

A box of Joe Joe’s, Trader Joe’s generic sandwich cookie brand, costs just as much as a package of Oreos, although Joe Joe’s cost less per ounce. So you might think you’re getting a deal by picking these cookies up instead of brand-name ones, but our testers clearly didn’t think that was the case.

Edwards took a single bite and immediately reached for her milk.

“NO” was all she said as she politely pushed the half-eaten cookie to the other side of the table.
“THIS IS GROSS. WHAT FILLING IS THIS?” Khwaja asked, pulling the cookie apart for intense analysis.

Her backstory of how this cookie came to be a sad one was as follows:

This is the cookie your grandma keeps in the cabinet that she keeps for only for when you come over. And they stay there for years and years,” she explained, while continuing to eat the cookie.

“Or, it tastes like the cookies you find in the back of your pantry that you know you shouldn’t eat, but you eat them anyways because you have no other food in your house,” she said. “Or is that just my problem? It’s a desperation cookie, that’s what it is.

Vandenburgh rated it his second favorite, but he’s obviously an outlier.

Pica rated it as one of her favorites — but since she’s the one who brought the box in for us, so I’m throwing away her biased response. I never said this experiment followed the rules, all right?

Verdict: Don’t eat these.

Sandwich cookies

Writer Lisa Rowan eats a dunked Oreo during a taste test between store-brand Oreos and the real thing.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Oreos Vs. Generic Sandwich Cookies: A Final Word

The lesson here is pretty obvious: You get what you’re paying for when you drop nearly $3 on Oreos.

If you choose to buy generic, expect your cookie to come with a few quirks.

And don’t forget the milk!

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.