Food History

In 1984, These Oreos Were Almost As Big As Your Head

December  7, 2016

Four score and, like, three weeks ago, two bars of the Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar ended up on my desk. I knew this was coming. I’d been treated to an embargoed press release for days on end, teasing the arrival of this chocolate bar stateside, the first of its kind for Oreo.

It's a bar of cookies-and-cream filling sandwiched between twin layers of milk chocolate. I liked it a lot; I even ate it for breakfast a few days. But I’m afraid in the multiple conversations I had about this candy bar with my editor Kenzi—and I swear I pitched some form of coverage for several consecutive days—I couldn’t find a more compelling angle than, yes, this is a candy bar derived from a cookie, and it is good.

Yawn. Glad we didn’t throw that piece of content into the digital ether. Besides, can you blame us? There have been so many mutations of the Oreo, from the Fruit Punch Oreo to the Swedish Fish Oreo (uhhh), that keeping up with them feels like an unbearably futile exercise. Each new entry into the Oreo canon, no matter the manufactured buzz that surrounds it, seems decidedly like a non-event.

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But this wasn’t the case in 1984. Consider Oreo Big Stuf.

Well, isn’t that something?

Take a look at our leading man, blazing red windbreaker and all, flipping his Swayze shag as he brandishes this packaged cookie as if it were a medal. And there’s lots of fancy footwork from his supporting cast; surprised that Irene Cara and Debbi Morgan aren't in there! The song itself, lifted almost completely from Jean Knight’s 1971 banger, "Mr. Big Stuff," is by turns delightful and gently admonishing. “Mr. Big Stuf,” a chorus sings, almost in the form of a greeting. “Who do you think you are?”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. If you’re Kristen, a commenter on, you’re probably wondering, Weren't these enormous Oreos like the size of a hockey puck? Or bigger? Yes, this is true. The Oreo Big Stuf was “an oversized cookie sold as an on-the-run snack,” three inches in diameter, 316 calories, with 13 grams of fat. And each came in its own plastic package, perfect for sneaking into your little tyke's knapsack.

(Also, yes, it's stuf. Not stuff. I bet you're grumbling, Does anyone spell check these days? Does this website have editors? Man, the quality of the writing on this site has really gone downhill. Et cetera. Yeah, you think you’re so clever, but I'll stop you there—Nabisco chose to market this product using the word stuf, so please raise your concerns with them.)

Too bad this cheeky misspelling wasn't enough to keep the product alive. After seven years, the Oreo Big Stuf was discontinued in 1991. But why? “To be honest, I don’t know the answer to your question, sir,” a customer service representative from Mondelez International, the company that currently manufactures Oreo products, told me. Unbelievable. I was told I’d receive a call from a communications rep from the company with a direct answer to when, exactly, it was discontinued that year, and why. Well, "I’m not holding my breath," as they say.

It's fine, really. Five years ago, Sandie Glass of Fast Company surmised that this mastodon of a cookie met its demise because of dwindling sales. Maybe Nabisco had overestimated this product's appeal. The introduction of the USDA’s 1980 guidelines for reducing fat and caloric intake, Glass believed, perhaps sped up this artery-clogger's death march.

Too bad! Some Oreo products, like the Double Stuf, have had remarkable lasting power. Most others haven't—they're seasonal, or their sales taper off after a few years. And there’s no analog to the Oreo Big Stuf these days. This is all very sad.

Anyway, to introduce some structural symmetry here, I'd recommend that maybe you should eat the Milka Oreo Chocolate Bar. Try it. It’s good. And I have no idea how long it'll be around.

Remember Oreo Big Stuf? Or this commercial? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.