A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by the makers of Hydrox cookies says its fellow creme-filled sandwich cookie maker is trying to starve them out of the market by using deceptive business practices and blocking the lesser-known chocolate cookie out of view on grocery store shelves.
Hydrox announced its beef with Oreo in a post on Facebook last August, accusing Mondelez International Inc. of throwing their weight around by making Hydrox cookies harder to find in stores.
Ellia Kassoff bought the dormant Hydrox brand in 2008, re-launching the cookie in 2015 with 4,000 supermarkets stocking them. But, after an initial nostalgia-fueled sugar rush, the brand has seen its sales plummet, with only a few hundred stores currently stocking the brand, with much of the cookie sales coming from Amazon.com.
Kassoff says the distribution model used by his competitor Mondelez International, allowed them to stock store shelves instead of grocery store employees. Hydrox argues Mondelez did so in an attempt to lower "sales volume and have us discontinued."
Kassoff filed the complaint with the Federal Trade Commission after reportedly hearing from a grocery buyer who warned of Mondelez' alleged business practices.
"Mondelez is going to hide your cookies all over our stores to make sure you don't get any sales, in hopes of being discontinued. They will see you as a major threat to their market and will do anything to ensure you're not successful," the buyer reportedly told the cookie company. "You're going to have to hire people to go into each of our stores and make sure Hydrox is not being hidden."
"The Oreo guys saw us as a threat, so they started hiding our cookies on shelves to get us discontinued," Kassoff told the Wall Street Journal. "It got to the point where I’d had enough, so we filed an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in August."
Photos posted by Hydrox on Facebook show their cookies being pushed aside or hidden by other Oreo products.
OREO responded to Hydrox's complaint in a statement saying they were "confident that this accusation has no merit."
"The OREO brand is an iconic one, with a proud and rich history of delivering great tasting products and exciting innovations to our consumers for more than a century. This focus, and our commitment to operating with integrity, has made OREO America’s favorite cookie," the statement from OREO read.
Hydrox cookies were first created in 1908 by the now-defunct Sunshine Biscuits. Hydrox drew inspiration by combining the words Hydrogen and Oxygen, which the company believed promoted purity.
So far, Kassoff has yet to hear back from the FTC about his complaint.
Photo: Getty Images