There is, some would argue, no treat more perfect than the Oreo. But that hasn’t stopped its manufacturers from tinkering with it, producing a dozens of tweaks on the classic over the years – some successful (Double Stuff, Chocolate Mint, Birthday Cake), some perplexing (Watermelon, Banana Split).
The latest such tinker is the Red Velvet Oreo, set to appear in stores nationwide starting February 2. Rumors swirled about their existence back in October, but parent company Nabisco (a subsidiary of food processor Mondelez International) didn’t confirm them until today.
Like the cake from whence it comes, the Red Velvet Oreo features a chocolate outer layer, dyed red, with white cream cheese frosting. Geared at grabbing a piece of the red and pink food-laden Valentine’s Day market, they will be on sale for six to eight weeks, or until packages run out, according to Nabisco.
It’s a logical marriage, for a couple of reasons. Despite its striking color, a red velvet variety isn’t much of a stretch for Oreo. Red velvet cake is just chocolate cake dyed red, after all, and early reports indicate that the cream cheese frosting in the Red Velvet Oreo isn’t too far off from the original Oreo filling.
In the baking and manufactured food industry, too, red velvet is fast becoming the de facto flavor for Valentine’s Day. There are red velvet Peeps, whoopee pies, doughnuts, and hot chocolate; Dunkin’ Doughnuts unveiled a Red Velvet Latte in late 2013.
The flavor’s newfound prevalence is somewhat surprising, because unlike the Oreos, red velvet is far from universally beloved. In fact, it may be one of the most polarizing flavors so far to crop up in the Oreo oeruve. It has its acolytes, sure, but to some, including the Huffington Post, it’s “the world’s most overrated dessert.” Even its origins are in dispute: Red velvet cake is widely considered a traditional Southern concoction, but its origins can be traced back to both a Texas food coloring manufacturing company and the kitchen of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
Still, Mondelez is betting on Red Velvet Oreos being a Valentine’s Day hit. In advance of the launch next month, the company is also giving away 22,250 free boxes of the stuff. So if you’re a red velvet fan, an Oreo fan, or both, you can enter at www.OREORedVelvetRope.com.