Happy 100th Birthday Oreo – Classic Jingle Writer Celebrates with JMS!

March 6, 2012 7:38 pm

Happy birthday Oreo! The classic cookie turns 100 years old today and you’ve no doubt had that old catchy jingle stuck in your head all day…

“Oh oh oh, ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie, they forever go together, what a classic combination. When a dark delicious cookie meets an icy cold sensation, like the one and only creamy crunchy chocolate O-R-E-O. Keeps your milk from getting lonely.”

Have truer words ever been sung? There have been many versions over the years, like this 1980s commercial featuring a young Brian Austin Green. All though, instantly transport you to another time and make it virtually impossible not to follow the instructions laid out in the original. Before you start dunking though, we have a little something to get you in the mood.

This afternoon, Just My Show celebrated Oreo’s big day by chatting with ad man Tony Jaffe, who wrote the cookie’s classic jingle way back in the early 80s.

What kind of guidelines did they give you going in? What did they say they wanted?

What was happening is that the store brands were undercutting ‘em in price. You know, like Hydrox and whatever the other was…the other competition was, and they wanted to make sure that everybody knew that Oreo was…for lack of a phrase…as put in the song, is “the one and only.” You know, and nothing could top it. So it was those guidelines and, you know, of course, everything you could do with an Oreo. Twisting it off, dunking it in milk, building a cookie tower with it. All of that stuff.

What was your process like? Did you sit around eating Oreos? Any moment where you came up with the concept that you remember?

Yeah, I remember exactly how I did it. I mean, I knew “the one and only” and I was playing the guitar and there was a song by Herman and the Hermits called Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter and I was playing that and I was singing it. And then I just played the chords and stopped singing it and then the tune just sort of popped into my and  it’s the exact same chords as Mrs. Brown, You Got a Lovely Daughter, but I started singing another melody over it and then I just wrote the lyric to it.

What’s the sort of key to writing something like that, that’s almost like entertainment and part of your culture rather than, you know, a sneaky commercial?

I always felt…no matter what I was doing that, you know, you had to be entertaining or nobody was gonna listen to whatever it was that you’re saying. And fortunately for me and working on the product, you know, it was…the cookie itself was an icon and the advertising just had to get out of the way of it.  Do you know what I mean? You didn’t want to do anything to it to get in the way of its reputation and…the thing that was neat about it is that it actually worked and even though it was higher priced than the store, you know, than the competition, it started to pull away from ‘em because of that. And the song lasted, I don’t know, 20 years or so. They were still doing it in one way or another.

But everyone still knows it so well. I mean, how does that feel knowing that it’s…part of people’s childhood?

Here’s the thing. With that song…when I did it, I knew that they would…because of the lyric as well, I knew that Nabisco would by it in a heartbeat because it just felt right. I gotta admit. I mean it just felt right. Did I know it would last 20 years? No. I mean, cause that’s really rare. But [Nabisco] did.

I took my guitar out there. I sang on the thing and I, you know, there are certain layers at the company that you have to go through, like assistant brand managers, brand managers, product brand…you know, whatever it was up the line. And we went up the line, I think we went up four layers in one day which is really rare. And then the president, his name was John Greeniaus at the time, he bought it, you know, in a heartbeat. So that was very cool.

And then, I must have done about 20 different kinds of lyrics. Because, you know, there was the first one which was the “keeps your milk from getting lonely”…and then there was “bright ideas and an Oreo cookie” where we, you know, we did all kinds all kinds of things that you could do with the cookie that were unexpected. That was the second one. I mean there was just a whole bunch of them. But the tune was really memorable…obviously. It just felt right from the beginning.

Today, the 100th birthday of Oreos. Any thoughts on the product itself and the fact that it’s still as popular as it ever was?

Yeah. I mean, here’s the thing is that even after they stopped using the song…whoever the agency is now, they’ve been doing great work on it. You know, they’ve been true to what the brand is and they’ve done some really, you know, heartwarming stuff without being sappy. They always make you smile. So I give…whoever the agency is now, a lot of credit.

And last one, the obvious one. Do you actually like Oreos? Do you eat ‘em a lot these days?

Yes I do. I don’t eat ‘em a lot. I have to keep my body, you know. My six pack. But I do eat them.

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