Last spring, a Colorado woman named Taylor Young tweeted to @Oreo more than a dozen times, suggesting a new cookie idea every few days for a solid month. Banana split! Candied bacon! Astronaut ice cream! The twentysomething was one of the “hundreds of thousands” of online innovators who took part in Oreo’s #MyOreoCreation contest, which was designed to help the company choose the next flavor that we’ll all ignore while we reach for a package of Double Stufs.
The person whose #MyOreoCreation is selected by the cookie giant supposedly wins a fat $500,000 prize, so when Young saw Cherry Cola Oreos—one of her contest entries—on a grocery store shelf, she assumed that her check was on the way. She contacted Oreo, who more or less told her to Stuf herself, so her next call was to her local news affiliate.
Young told KOAA that Oreo responded with a terse note explaining that they already had a cherry cola flavor in development—so sorry, the idea was theirs, not hers. “That’s not cool,” she said. “If they claim that they already had it in their back pocket, then they don't need to provide prizes to anyone.”
She also said that she was sure that she’d been the first person to submit the cherry cola flavor and she knew Oreo had read her tweet, because they sent her a box that contained two cherry cola Oreos. “Thanks for sending us your idea,” the company said in an accompanying note. “We thought it was so delicious, we turned it into this one-of-a-kind creation just for you.”
In a recent press release about the #MyOreoCreation contest, Oreo says that there are currently three finalists: Cherry Cola, Kettle Corn, and Pina Colada. Each variant is on sale for a limited time, and anyone who is willing to eat a popcorn-flavored sandwich cookie is supposed to vote for their favorite. The winning Oreo will be announced “on or around July 7, 2018 and will unlock $500K for the creator of the winning flavor.”
So there are two limited-edition pieces of bad news for Young here: first, Oreo credits someone named Eden F. from Winnetka, California with the Cherry Cola idea and, next, Young hasn’t gotten her $500,000 because the contest ISN’T EVEN OVER YET!!!!!111!! No one has gotten $500,000, not even Eden F., who will hopefully blow at least $10 grand to have several hundred packages of Cherry Cola Oreos air-dropped onto Young’s roof.
“As expected, many consumers submitted the same flavor suggestions, including 'cherry cola', but did so in different and creative ways,” Kim Fontes, a Mondelez spokesperson told MUNCHIES. “Knowing that this would happen, the winning submission was based on more than just identifying the flavor (as this Denver Colorado entrant has done), but also on the creative way in which the entrant presented the flavor along with other details about the flavor creation, as outlined in the official rules.”
And, just to twist the artificially flavored knife, Oreo said that it “developed hundreds of prototypes” of the flavors that were submitted, and they sent a pair of test cookies to “select fans,” possibly so whoever suggested Avocado Oreos would have to come face-to-face with the unholy horror they could’ve sent forth into this world.
“This was separate from the finalist selection and intended simply to surprise and thank some of our fans for participating (as stated in the contest rules) and did not indicate that they were a winner, ” Fontes added. “In fact, several fans received ‘cherry cola’ samples following their submission of that flavor.”
On Monday, Young posted a note on Twitter, congratulating the contest winners and again calling Oreo out for brushing her off. “I do still find it a little fishy that neither Oreo, Nabisco [or] Mondelez were able to provide me with answers better than ‘We had planned to release [the flavor] prior to the launch of the My Oreo Creation Contest,” she wrote. “Would being selected as a winner have been amazing? Absolutely!! But that wasn’t what I was seeking. I wanted the truth.”
We don’t know if Oreo could’ve handled this better; by saying the flavor “was in development," it sounds like they meant that they had a head start because Eden F. submitted it. Or maybe, Young didn’t fully read all of the tiny print in the official contest rules. Or maybe, Oreo is just straight up lying.
Regardless, we hope Young will submit “Phony Bologna” as her #MyOreoCreation next year. It’s still less nasty than avocado flavor.