Hydrox Makes a Comeback

Discussion
Jun 03, 2008

By Tom Ryan

Bowing to more than 1,300 phone inquiries, an online petition delivering more than 1,000 signatures and internet chat sites lamenting the demise of the snack, Kellogg Co. has decided to temporarily relaunch Hydrox, the Oreo’s former long-time rival. The online campaign to bring it back came after Hydrox, which Kellogg quietly discontinued in 2003, was the subject of a front-page article in January in The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal, Kellogg’s move is more about marketing and responding to consumers rather than the goal of a permanent product reintroduction. The cookie will be sold nationally starting in August, but only for a limited time. Brad Davidson, head of Kellogg’s snack division, said Kellogg is open to a permanent re-introduction “if it takes off and there turns out to be a real affinity for it.”

Sunshine Biscuits created Hydrox in 1908 – four years before the Oreo came out. Later, with Oreo so monopolizing the market, Hydrox was widely and erroneously regarded as a cheaper copycat. After buying Sunshine in 1996, Keebler even relaunched Hydrox as Droxies before it was acquired by Kellogg.

Still, the Journal’s piece surmised that Hydrox’s distant second-place standing to the Oreo has created hard-core fans who “see their sandwich-cookie choice as a call to arms for nonconformists.”

A recent list of the top 25 things people miss from Walletpop.com, AOL’s consumer finance blog, ranked Hydrox at No. 4, just behind in-store lunch counters and ahead of Howard Johnson restaurants, Grape Nehi and the popcorn snack “Screaming Yellow Zonkers.”

Discussion Questions: How big a role is the internet playing in driving nostalgia for retired brands? What do you think of Kellogg’s move to bring back Hydrox? Will purchase of the brand be enough for Kellogg to continue manufacturing it?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Hydrox Makes a Comeback"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Burr
Guest
13 years 11 months ago
I always thought of Sunshine Brands as likened to a ‘private label’, a really good product at a lesser price. I never really saw them as a Nabisco equivalent from a ‘brand’ point of view. Nevertheless, Krispy and Hydrox were great products. Yet, there’s a reason for the extinction of a brand–any brand. Understanding why is sometimes difficult and the net answers are extremely interesting. Even so, it doesn’t have to be that the consumer didn’t want it to continue. Many brand failures are not necessarily due to the consumer no longer desiring the product, they are due to mismanagement of the brand. Case in point, Marshall Field’s and Chicago. Another…the Pontiac Bonneville and a G8. What the heck is a G8 anyway? Answer: it’s two numbers higher than a G6. The consumer, (what was left of their product in the first place) is still wondering what happened to their Bonneville, Grand Prix and Grand Am. The could care less about a G6 or a G8. Think about that brand decision. It was the most… Read more »
Edward Herrera
Guest
Edward Herrera
13 years 11 months ago

I think Kellogg’s should relaunch Hydrox many times over the next decade. Make it a cult cookie and market it against an experience. Maybe an “online order only” or a season of the year. They could have a major retailer make it their private label value cookie.

If you try to market against Oreos, it will have to become a more premium cookie and a reward for your daily efforts. Private label has taken its value tier place in shopping carts of retail customers.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
13 years 11 months ago

It is amazing what nostalgia items are available online. I noted, however that the classic graphic packaging is missing or items replaced by nutrition labels. This is particularly true of nostalgia candy.

I also noted your list of longed for, missed things we grew up with. About a month ago, I introduced my son to an item on the Burger King menu that I used to look forward to during my high school era, no-meat-on-Friday lifestyle. After every Friday night football game, we used to head to Burger King and dine on “The Whaler,” the nautical version of the chain’s “The Whopper.” Now it is called, “The Big Fish” sandwich. He agreed, the original name was more fun.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
13 years 11 months ago

I grew up on Hydrox cookies and they went great with Grape Nehi (bottle, not can). Oreos were interlopers, not the “real thing.” Screaming Yellow Zonkers? Not so much. Funyuns. But that’s just me and my thousands of close personal friends.

Recently I went online to find some nostalgic candy with which to surprise my year-younger brother, a hotshot attorney in D.C. and a continent away. One can’t find Cherry Mash or Licorice Babies in stores. (Yes, I know that baby-shaped licorice chews is racist and actually pretty weird, but we were little kids and, amazingly, the candy is still available.) Last month I found my basic college foodgroup, jarred Penrose Hot Sausages, online and bought a case.

The resurrection of Hydrox is heartening but doomed to failure, I believe. It’s an interesting experiment but ultimately must build brand awareness and acceptance among the young. That’s expensive. But it’ll be fun while it lasts. Put me down for a couple of cases. I hope the packaging is airtight.

Ray Grikstas
Guest
Ray Grikstas
13 years 11 months ago

Since I grew up in the UK, the name “Hydrox” means nothing to me.

It sounds a bit like a wrinkle-reducing face cream (HYDRation + botOX), or perhaps something to bleach hair (HYDrogen perOXide).

But with all this nostalgic buzz here, I’ll give them a try. I’m hungry already…. 🙂

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
13 years 11 months ago

To the extent production in such a manner is possible, I think an annual “special once yearly” promotion for many of these wonderful nostalgic old products would be a great marketing approach. Not only would consumers know it was coming and could look forward to being able to stock up once a year, but the manufacturer could also charge full price, and also probably gather important data on where there may be pockets of interest in certain markets for the re-introduction of other nostalgic brands.

Janis Cram
Guest
Janis Cram
13 years 11 months ago

Kudos to Kellogg’s for doing something truly unique…listening to the consumers and giving them what they want! Thanks Kellogg’s! All CPG companies should try this approach once in a while.

We love Oreos in our house but if they’re not on sale, we don’t buy them. We’ve been buying the Safeway brand instead…they’re just as good and come in more flavors and 2 bags cost the same as one bag of Oreos.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
13 years 11 months ago

As Kellogg’s has said, this is not about sales, it is about marketing. Kellogg’s recognized that there was an opportunity to jump on a consumer desire for the product, and after receiving great exposure in the Wall Street Journal, Kellogg’s smartly looked at how they could continue this exposure, What could be better than announcing that they are re-launching the product? Keep in mind that the product was still being produced for institutional uses in food service, so if the production had truly stopped, they could not resurrect the product.

Kellogg’s has taken advantage of a great viral marketing opportunity to get their corporate name spoken throughout news stories and hundreds of blogs, and the cost to them will be minimal. Great move by Kellogg’s.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
13 years 11 months ago

Whether the re-entry of Hydrox is a success or just a lumox it will be welcomed by thousand of old-timers and accrue good will for Kellogg…and, who knows? Many young pallets might find a new sanctuary in that delicious crispy chocolate layer cookie like a lot of us did in yesteryear.

Anne Howe
Guest
13 years 11 months ago

I love Hydrox; grew up on them, although at the time I thought Oreo had the mindshare as the status brand. But we were a budget driven family with no working mom, so we had Hydrox!

Would I buy again? Maybe once, for old time’s sake, but since cookies don’t even make the weekly list anymore, I agree with Kellogg’s limited run philosophy. They’ll get a good overall brand boost from the effort and everyone will get a chance to revisit something they loved!

Liz Crawford
Guest
13 years 11 months ago

The internet revealed the Long Tail of demand–where consumers buy less of more things, rather than more of fewer things. This is just another manifestation of the Long Tail, as applied to “Memory Marketing” nostalgic brands. The nostalgic aspects supply the cachet. Sure, we’re bound to see more of this–but sold in niche quantities.

Mark Hunter
Guest
Mark Hunter
13 years 11 months ago

Great move; they’ll get short-term buzz and if Hydrox sticks, then great. If not, then the buzz was worth the cost. The internet communities to come together from wide geographic areas.

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
13 years 11 months ago

This article poses an important question: Does the internet allow the voices of many to be heard, or the voices of a few to sound like many?

Regardless of the answer, these voices have succeeded in changing corporate minds, at least for the time being.

I believe the success of these products lies not with the internet community, but with the people who watch TV, read magazines, and walk up and down the snack food aisle of their local grocery store. After all, who’s really going to buy this? The socially inept web surfer, or his mom?

Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 11 months ago

Sure, bring back Hydrox from time to time. Next: how about chocolate covered graham crackers? How about chocolate covered graham cracker Hydrox? With Nehi grape filling?

Bill Grize III
Guest
Bill Grize III
13 years 11 months ago

I find this heartening and it is a smart marketing move.

I also agree that they should offer the item online to the select number who want it, even if it doesn’t take off on a large scale. Quaker does that with Quisp cereal and I can vouch there is a significant number of both baby boomers and youth interested in retro who appreciate that and spread that fact by word of mouth.

What’s next, the return of Funny Face and Goofy Grape?

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What’s the likelihood that more and more retired brands will undergo attempted comebacks as a result of internet campaigns?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...