Speaking of Instagram (how’s that for a day-delayed segue?), I recently posted a photo from the market on my street that people had a lot to say about. Living in China, you get used to the things you buy being almost like the real thing. Back in 2005, my prized possession was a pair of red sneakers that said “Ball Star” on the heels. The woman at the shop swore they were genuine Converse shoes.
But walking through the store earlier this week, I saw an impostor product that made me do a double-take. Behold, the Oliao cookie:
At the time I snapped a photo for posterity and went along my merry way, shaking my head. But after I posted the photo online, people started asking me if they tasted like the real thing. To satisfy the curiosity of the internet, I threw all concern for my own health out the window, marched back to the store, bought some cookies and milk, and set up a taste test. Since the faux-reos were obviously crafted by a Brit, I also roped my British roommate Jack into eating these potentially chemical-laced treats. You know, for the sake of science.
So, here are the Oreo and the Oliao packages. There are also birthday cake flavored Oreos, because we wanted an emergency palate cleanser and those things are freaking delicious.
As soon as we opened the packages, it was very clear from the aroma that the Oliao cookies were not going to be an enjoyable snack. The smell wafting from the tray was sort of like fake butter extract – something totally artificial that is meant to mimic something real (much like an Oliao). The Oreos smelled like… well, Oreos. Rich cocoa cookie and magic.
As soon as Jack picked up an Oliao, the two halves fell apart. Craftsmanship is obviously not at the top of their list when it comes to faking it.
At least his Oliao had filling in it. Mine was woefully lacking in the cream department.
Also, the top of the cookie, for reasons unclear to me, didn’t even have “Oliao” written on it. Instead it said “OYXO”. This did not bode well.
On the flip side of the cookie coin is the real deal, the cocoa king, the cream of the cream crop. You really do have to twist an Oreo to open it up, because the sugary paste is bountiful.
Also, it is clearly labeled with the same name as it has on the package. Because, professionalism.
So, how did the impostor stack up against “milk’s favorite cookie” in our taste test? For starters, the Oliao was insanely dry. It was so dry, in fact, that I don’t even know how to describe the flavor other than dry. So dry, that taking a bite of the real Oreo prompted Jack to comment: “I never would have described an Oreo as a moist cookie, but it turns out it is so moist as to be delightful.” Oreo: 1, Oliao: 0
Next, it was on to try the cream filling separately. The Oreo is tasty enough, although I will say the cream on its own is so sweet that it made the roof of my mouth crawl. However, that was still better than the Oliao’s filling, which Jack described as “like glue.” Oreo: 2, Oliao: 0
Since the cookie was so dry and glue-y, we thought dunking it into milk might help. After all, that’s basically the Oreo ritual. A quick dunk of the cookie in the milk proved that it was basically a sponge. It slurped up milk like a hungry kitten, filling all the pockets of dry air with liquid. This changed the flavor of the cookie to that of milk laced with artificial butter extract. The Oreo, well, you know exactly where this is going. Oreo: 1,000,000, Oliao: Hell no