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Video: Machine Unlocks The 'Physics' Of Separating Oreos

Eat them whole or divide and conquer? That's the eternal question when it comes to Oreos, those little rounds of chocolate cookie hugging creme in the middle.

Over the years, the marketing folks at Nabisco have issued some well-known directions on how to enjoy their beloved processed cookies: You can twist 'em, lick them, dunk 'em. Now, it seems, you can also use a robot to take a hatchet to them.

In a new satirical video that's quickly making the rounds online, self-described physicist David Neevel (he's actually a copywriter with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy) explains how he spent "0.04 years" building the OSM – that's short for "Oreo Separator Machine" — a robotic device to carefully scrape the crème from the sides of the cookie.

The four-minute video perfectly channels the intensity of a documentary, with Neevel narrating his herculean effort to rid the snack cookie of unwanted crème.

As Neevel intones in a deadpan, "One of the hardest things to overcome was to learn to build robots and make them work. But it was also difficult to keep my hands warm and the back of my neck warm."

The video is part of Nabisco's Cookies Vs. Crème campaign to market Oreos, which turned 100 last year. Still, it struck us here at The Salt as a bit ironic that Nabisco should choose this time to advertise the "scientific side" of its iconic cookie.

After all, the science of processed food is really mostly geared at seducing consumers' taste buds. And it has gotten a lot of scrutiny over the past week, following the publication of an excerpt from Salt Sugar Fat in the New York Times Magazine. The book, from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss, explores how manipulating those three ingredients has become central to the success of the processed food industry. If you're curious, you can hear more from Moss' interview on Fresh Air Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Maria Godoy is a senior science and health editor and correspondent with NPR News. Her reporting can be heard across NPR's news shows and podcasts. She is also one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.
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