No, Oreos Are Not As Addictive As Cocaine

Lab rats go for Oreo cookies at the same rate they seek out cocaine and morphine, according to a study released by a group of researchers from Connecticut College.

Much has been made of this study, as it seems to prove what a lot of medical experts and social justice activists have been saying: it's really, really hard for humans to control themselves around store-bought treats. We already know that bagged chips and cookies and such are specifically developed to be addictive, and many are taking the results of this study to mean that the Oreo cookie, and its ingredient list of sugar, flour, riboflavin, palm oil, cocoa, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, baking soda, salt, soy lecithin, artificial vanilla flavor, and chocolate, is in fact as addictive as a toot of cocaine.

No. That's not what the study says.

Here's their methodology: a group of rats was let into a maze that had shots of cocaine or morphine at one end, and shots of saline at the other end. Another group of rats was let into another maze, this one with Oreos at one end and rice cakes at the other.

The rats preferred the cocaine over the saline. And they preferred the Oreos over the rice cakes. Nothing about this has surprised you yet, right?

So what did the study prove? That living beings like treats of all kinds more than they enjoy the limited pleasures of saline injections and rice cakes.

Make no mistake; it's an important study that can be used to help civic leaders empower their communities to make healthier choices. Because yes, just like lab rats, humans can't get off the white stuff -- of either variety -- through willpower alone. But let's not get ahead of ourselves: Oreos and cocaine are on two entirely different levels.

The study did show that rats eat the creme filling first, though. That part is kind of earth-shattering and adorable. They think they're people!

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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