It’s a problem that has plagued humankind probably since March 6, 1912. What happened on that date? The Oreo (aka “milk’s favorite cookies”) was invented. I’m just spit-balling here, but I assume it was at the moment of creation or soon after that someone discovered — much to the eventual discomfiture of all Oreo eaters — that the sandwich cookie could not be twisted into two equal parts, each with the same amount of “crème filling.”
The good news is that science at last has begun to research the problem in the hopes of finding a solution. Crystal Owens, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has conducted studies with a team of colleagues on the probability of splitting the Oreo evenly and may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
I was personally motivated by a desire to solve a challenge that had puzzled me as a child: how to open an Oreo and get creme evenly arranged on both wafers? I preferred the taste of the cookies with the creme exposed. If I got a bite of wafer alone it was too dry for me, and if I dunked it in milk the wafer would fall apart too fast.
When I came to MIT, I learned how to use our laboratory rheometer [rechristened Oreometer for the experiment], which twists a fluid sample between parallel disks to measure the viscosity. I originally used our rheometer to test a carbon nanotube-based ink I was designing to 3D print flexible electronics, but one day I realized I had the tools and knowledge to finally solve this challenge with Oreos.
So far, the goal of separation into equal halves has eluded Owens, who laments, “The results validated what I saw as a child — we found no trick for opening up our Oreos.”
But, hey, we put a man on the moon. A cookie lover can always dream.