The Untold Truth Of 'Mr. Oreo' Sam Porcello

Talk about an indulgence. In 2020, a British man named Max Stanford walked into a pub, sat down, and ate 141 Oreo cookies in five minutes, significantly breaking the previously held world record. He achieved his championship through a delicate method of eating two cookies at a time after dunking them in milk and water (via Metro). It was an impressive feat, but it's not only Stanford who has a love of Oreos. As one of the world's most popular and recognizable cookies, Oreos have gained popularity since their invention (and patenting) in 1912 (via New York Daily News), and today, according to Medium, there are 85 flavors of Oreos for sweets connoisseurs everywhere to enjoy. You can even buy Oreo flavored candy canes at Christmastime. But Oreo lovers would have never discovered their affinity for the perfectly chocolatey cookie with vanilla filling if it had not been for Sam Porcello.

Porcello is credited for inventing the "stuf" (the filling, that is) in Double Stuf Oreos as well as the chocolate covered Oreo and white chocolate covered Oreo. In all, he holds five Oreo patents (via Time).

Porcello died at the age of 76 in 2012 (via his obituary), but to say he lived a sweet life would be an understatement.

Sam Porcello got into the cookie business because he was colorblind

According to the New York Daily News, Sam Porcello worked at Nabisco, parent company of Oreo, for 34 years as "principal scientist," or as he was nicknamed by the company, "Mr. Oreo." Yet, he almost didn't even make it through the front doors at Nabisco.

After stints as a teacher and with Charms candy company, Porcello was set to join a major cosmetics company as an employee when they found out he was colorblind. "Not a good thing in the cosmetics business," said his son, Curtis Porcello.

Sam then ended up joining Nabisco, working there until he retired in 1993. The company originally promised that if he worked very hard for a very long time, he might be able to earn a salary of $12,000.

And work hard he did. Sam traveled around the world in search of ingredients for Oreos and other Nabisco products. He found the chocolate Oreo coating at a trade show in Europe.

Sam Porcello wasn't a huge fan of Oreos

Per the New York Daily News, despite being "one of the world's foremost experts on cocoa," his father didn't eat very many of his chocolate Oreo creations, according to Curtis. However, when he did eat Oreos, he never dunked them in milk.

Sam also worked on Chips Ahoy!, Fig Newtons, and Mallomars products (via ABDO Books) and often brought home his in-progress creations for the family to taste test (via New York Daily News).

"We always had a lot of sweets around," Curtis said.

"I think me going away to college was difficult for him," Curtis told Sarah Joyner of "Proof" on the podcast "Brought to You By..." "So, he'd show up at school, and he'd open the trunk, and it'd just be full of cookies and crackers."

Cutting into the interview, Joyner tells the podcast audience, "It's clear to me that Curtis is really, really proud of his dad."

Sam Porcello led a robust life outside of work

According to his obituary, Sam Porcello lived a well-rounded life outside the Nabisco plant. Porcello was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and later moved to Wayne, before settling in Toms River in 1974. He was a fan of the water, boats, and sailing, as he was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 16-05, serving as a vessel examiner, and an active member of the Toms River Seaport Society for 35 years. He was so involved in the Toms River Seaport Society, that upon his death, his family requested donations be made to the society in his name in lieu of flowers. Despite living in New Jersey his entire life, Porcello traveled to Thailand, where he helped locals run a start-up food company.

Outside his extracurricular activities, Sam was husband to wife Karen, father to sons David and Curtis, grandfather to two grandchildren, and, naturally, dog dad to his "best friend" Evry.

Did Sam Porcello and Nabisco rip off the Oreo from another company?

Before there was the Oreo, or even Nabisco, there was Hydrox cookie, which is considered the original chocolate sandwich cookie. But the Hydrox cookie was a marketing flop, and after four years, Nabsico, then called the National Biscuit Company, saw an open door. They scooted in and Porcello got to work creating the Oreo cookie we know and love today (via Taste).

But don't discount  just yet. Over 100 years after the cookie was first created in 1908, the company is pushing for a comeback. "The original sandwich cookie is back, don't eat a knock off! Stick with the original, Hydrox," the company stated. Hydrox's current parent company, Leaf, is marketing the cookie as a healthier alternative to the Oreo with no high fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated oils. The cookies are made from darker chocolate and have less cream filling than Oreos, and Hydrox even claims they are crunchier (via Hydrox's website).

Sam Porcello technically had to share credit for creating the Oreo

Sam Porcello allegedly invented the yummy "stuf" inside America's favorite cookie, but when it comes to the design of the Oreo, credit goes to William Turnier for inventing the emboss that appears on the outer chocolate cookie of the Oreo (via Time).

And the emboss on the Oreo holds much more significance than meets the eye. According to The Atlantic, the design is quite symbolic. The circle with the word "OREO" in it is a version of the Nabisco logo and is supposedly either "an early European symbol for quality" or a Cross of Lorriane, which was carried by the Knights Templar in the Crusades. Furthermore, the dot and four triangle arrangement is considered to be either a four-leaf clover or a cross pattée, which, according to SymbolSage, is a variant of a cross that symbolizes valor, nationality, and Christianity and is connected to the Knights Templar during the Crusades as well as the German military.

In the end, did Sam Porcello REALLY invent the Oreo?

According to the podcast "Brought to You By..." the answer might be no. The investigative team for this episode of the podcast, headed by Joyner, looked into the patents Sam Porcello filed and talked to his son, Curtis, and dug up some interesting information.

Joyner pointed out that Porcello retired in 1993 and the Oreo filling has changed twice since then, once in 1997 when it went kosher and once again in 2006 when the filling became trans fat-free.

"So this guy who retired from Nabisco in 1993 cannot have possibly been the inventor of the modern Oreo cream filling," Joyner noted.

But why, then, do we consider Porcello to be the father of the Oreo? Joyner has an interesting theory. When she interviewed Curtis, she believed he simply didn't know about the advancements and changes in the Oreo filling.

"At the point that Sam left Oreo, for his family, Oreo history stopped there, and they didn't keep up on all the developments on the Oreo after that point, and it actually makes perfect sense that when he passed, and they're writing an obituary memorializing the life of their loved one that they would include some of his biggest accomplishments," she said. "So, what happened is that journalists took that and recycled it, and recycled it, really without very much rigor and fact checking."