The Spider in the Oreo

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Spider in Oreo Photo

Spider in oreo
Netlore Archive: Circulating via social media, this unsettling image supposedly shows a real spider found smashed inside an Oreo cookie. Viral image

Description: Viral image
Circulating since: Jan. 2013?
Status: Prank

Text Example

As shared on Facebook, Feb. 23, 2013:

This is why you always take oreos apart before eating them, always. Now think of all the oreos you've ever eaten foolishly

Analysis

Circulating since 2013, this image is frequently shared and reposted as an example of how mass-produced foods can be contaminated without the consumer ever realizing it.

The cookie looks real enough, the spider looks real enough (scroll down to see the brightness-enhanced image), and the photo overall shows no obvious signs of manipulation.

But if you look into how Oreo cookies are made — i.e., almost entirely by machine and at very high speed — it seems unlikely that a wayward spider could end up sandwiched in the middle of one accidentally.

Possible, but unlikely.

The earliest online posting of the image I've found is an Instagram (no longer available) posted January 31, 2013. When I asked the original poster, Jacob McAuliff, where the spider pic came from he replied: "We took an Oreo and smushed a spider into the white cream and put the cookie back on it. Voila!! Oreo spider."

No one other than McAuliff has claimed ownership or creation of the image. I think we can safely dismiss this as a practical joke.

Food contamination really does occur, and insects, arachnids and the like are often the culprits, but this is not a valid example of such an occurrence.

Oreos facts

• Oreos are the best-selling cookies (or biscuits, if you happen to live in the U.K.) in the world.

• On the basis of a recent scientific study, it has been suggested — obviously with some exaggeration — that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine.

• Oreos were created in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). The cookie's one-hundredth birthday was celebrated in 2012.

• From day one, the Oreo was quite similar to an already-existing cookie, the Hydrox biscuit, invented by Sunshine Biscuits four years earlier.

• Though still quite similar to the original pattern, the Oreo cookie's design has evolved and become more complex over the years.

• The current version of the cookie's signature embossed pattern was created in 1952.

• A Nabisco design engineer named William Turnier is usually credited with creating the current design, though the company says it cannot confirm this.

• Nabisco claims the geometric shapes in the design are "an early European symbol for quality," though some conspiracy-minded types link at least one of the graphic elements, the so-called "Cross of Lorraine," to Freemasonry and the Knights Templar.

• Los Angeles artist Andrew Lewicki created an Oreo manhole cover based on the cookie's design.

Sources and Further Reading​

Spider Found in Oreo: Real or Fake?
Pest Control and Bug Exterminator Blog, 1 March 2013

Video: How Sandwich Cookies Are Made
Discovery / Science Channel, 2009

History of the Oreo Cookie
About.com: 20th Century History

Who Invented the Oreo?
Atlantic.com, 13 June 2011

How Oreos Work Like Cocaine
Atlantic.com, 17 October 2013

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Spider in Oreo (Brightness and Contrast Enhanced)

Oreo with spider smashed inside
"Spider in Oreo" photo with brightness and contrast enhanced. Viral image

The details are more visible in this slightly enhanced version of the smooshed-spider image. Real spider? We think so. The question is how it got there.

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Spider in Oreo (Close-Up of Embossed Pattern)

Oreo Cookies
Close-up of the embossed pattern on modern Oreo cookies. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Some say the two-bar cross symbol over the word "Oreo" in the embossed pattern on Oreo cookies is the Cross of Lorraine, an emblem of the Knights Templar.