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Nabisco asked several inventors to build Oreo-splitting machines in honor of the cookie's 100th birthday this week. (Courtesy Wieden+Kennedy)

The World’s First Oreo Splitter

A physicist builds a machine that separates the cookies from the cream

By Jennifer Marino Walters | March 8 , 2013
<p>David Neevel’s machine uses a hatchet blade to split the Oreo and mechanical arms to to pick up the cookies. (Courtesy Wieden+Kennedy)</p>

David Neevel’s machine uses a hatchet blade to split the Oreo and mechanical arms to to pick up the cookies. (Courtesy Wieden+Kennedy)

How do you eat your Oreo cookie? If you’re like half of all Oreo eaters, you pull it apart first. But if you’re physicist David Neevel, you build a machine to do it for you.

Neevel, of Portland, Oregon, has created the world’s first Oreo-separator machine. “[It] is entirely based on [my] dislike of cream and preference for cookie,” Neevel says.

COOKIE OR CREAM?

The electric-powered Oreo-separator machine is made of aluminum, wood, a hatchet, and floss. First, the hatchet blade lowers to split the Oreo. Next, two mechanical arms collect the cookie halves. The arms then transfer the halves to a router table, where the cream is removed.

Neevel’s Oreo separator is an example of what is known as a Rube Goldberg machine. Rube Goldberg machines—made up of several simple machines connected to one another—take a ridiculous and complicated path to reach a simple goal. They are named after a 20th-century engineer and cartoonist who drew wacky and complex machines that performed easy tasks.

It took Neevel two weeks to build his Oreo separator. “I didn’t see my girlfriend or my dog for hours at a time,” he says.

A BIG BIRTHDAY

Nabisco, the maker of Oreos, asked Neevel and three other inventors to create Oreo-splitting contraptions to help celebrate a big milestone. The first Oreo cookie was made on March 6, 1912, in New York City. The Oreo is now sold in more than 100 countries and is the world’s top-selling cookie brand.

“Over the last hundred years, almost literally billions of productive man-hours have been lost to people splitting apart Oreo cookies by hand and eating the part they prefer,” Nabisco jokes on its website. “In an attempt to make the world a better . . . place, Oreo has contracted the world’s best roboticists, artists, and tinkerers to create machines that will do the work for us.”

Since Neevel’s machine was unveiled on February 27, two more Oreo splitters have been introduced. The fourth is yet to be revealed. You can check out videos of all the Oreo-separator machines at www.youtube.com/oreo.

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