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Junior Josh Whalen holds the throne on social media for his unique Instagram account for Oreos

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"There’s so much out there, so many cool things that people don’t really know about [Oreos]," Josh said. "I think it’s really opened my eyes to see there’s a lot of cool stuff [on the store shelves] if you just look."

Photo by Avery Braune

Photo by Avery Braune

"There’s so much out there, so many cool things that people don’t really know about [Oreos]," Josh said. "I think it’s really opened my eyes to see there’s a lot of cool stuff [on the store shelves] if you just look."

Avery Braune, Reporter

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When most people think of Oreos, they just think of a cookie. Cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies. Consumed in a few seconds and never thought about twice. But there is more to an Oreo than meets the eye. More flavors than the standard chocolate, birthday cake, lemon and golden. A flavorful variety of unique Oreos constantly rotates through the store shelves. To junior Josh Whalen, it’s a big part of his life.  After discovering a limited time Oreo flavor in the grocery store for the first time at 12 years old, Josh had no idea that he would eventually exceed ten thousand followers on Instagram from creating an account at 14 dedicated to hunting the newest and best flavors.

After seeing cookie dough flavored Oreos on the shelves of the store, Josh knew that was a flavor he wanted to try. But because he was too young to have a money from a job, he had to come back to the store at a later time, only to find out after researching online that those specific Oreos were special and were only in stores for a few weeks.

“From then on, I made a vow that every time that I saw an Oreo that’s a different kind, I’m just going to try it,” Josh said. “I don’t care if it’s swedish fish [or] root beer. I’m down to try any of them.”

Josh started hunting Oreos for a couple years at first, keeping track of most of them and putting the unique packaging into a binder. He created an instagram account, @oreohunters, after his friends suggested it would be a fun idea. Josh was inspired to create the page when he saw others posting about foods, and became first account on Instagram to reveal the new flavors, give a review, and explain where they can be located at.

“There [are] people online who already show pictures of Oreos and [other foods] like that, and they get them for free,” Josh said. “The company sends them [the Oreos] so that they can review them, so that’s kind of the dream. Another reason why [I started the account] is because I thought it would be kind of fun [to] share the information with the world.”

At about 10,800 followers, he has brought an idea forth to social media that has captured the attention of many people. Within the first week of creating his account, he gained 1000 followers by using hashtags and connecting with other users. While @oreohunters is the only Oreo revealing and reviewing account on social media, Josh was shocked to find out there are other accounts that share the same ideas as him for other junk foods and sweets. He learned a lot of his strategies and tips from friends he has made through his account, as well as relationships close enough that he receives Christmas cards from them and their families.

“We’ve connected beyond the snacks and food,” Josh said. “I met all these people from [doing] something so strange, but now we’re close because we connected through the love of doing something strange that nobody else really does.”

When visiting his page, it’s easy to notice that there is a lot of thought that gets put into each one of his posts. He posts around 3 times for each cookie he comes across. The process first starts when information is received through direct message from people who work for Nabisco, secondary merchandisers, or others that are not directly correlated with the company but have some information, whether it be pictures of Oreo packages or the new flavors. Confidentiality is key, according to Josh, because if revealed prematurely or without proper permission, some of his sources could lose their jobs. The first post goes up soon after Josh gets the information. Then, Josh plays a guessing game of the release date, checking grocery stores in person and online.

“I check Target [and] Walmart frequently and I have a couple inventory locator websites I use to see if they are in stock yet,” Josh said. “You have to know the DCPI/UPC number for Target, [which is] basically the store item number so you can look that up and see how many are there. I probably go to about three to five stores, but if it’s a really intense hunt I go to [about] ten stores because the websites are not always accurate [and] sometimes I get false information.”

The reason he hunts on his own is because he finds it better, more fun, and more efficient than calling stores over the phone. After finding a new flavor, he posts where they can be found and when they will be available by, followed by a review of how he thought the Oreos tasted. However, Josh feels uninspired when there are long breaks between the release of new flavors.

“Right now we are going on a Oreo drought,” Josh said. “It’s been a few months now and I still haven’t gotten any. It can be hard sometimes [and] the wait can kill you, especially when there is nothing new coming out anytime soon.”

Despite being in an “Oreo drought,” there are plenty of cookies Josh has had the opportunity to locate and try in the past and is down to try any flavor he comes across. At the moment, he has some hot chicken flavored and wasabi flavored Oreos coming in from China.

Josh’s life has been changed in different ways after creating this account. It has opened up his eyes and warped his perspective to pay more attention to the diversity of junk food and release dates. He knows everything hitting the local store shelves, from Nutella M&M’s next year to pink lemonade flavored Poptarts. The account has also impacted him by giving him a unique label to stand out amongst his previous school.

“Just my close friends [know about the account] since I’m new here still, but everyone at my old school knew [and] it was kind of a joke,” Josh said. “I like the label [because] I think it’s funny. I don’t want be known as just the @oreohunters guy, but I [do] want people to know this is a part of me.”

In the future, Josh would like to continue hunting oreos, but isn’t sure if he will find something new as he gets older.

“I’m in on the joke, if you know what I mean, [and] I’m not actually this crazy,” Josh said. “I think it’s fun [to do] but I’m not sure if I’m ever going to use it as a huge hobby, just to look back on as something fun that I did as a high schooler.”

Although Josh has an entire account dedicated to Oreos, they are not his favorite cookie. While he enjoys the taste of Oreos, his favorite cookies are normal chocolate chip, and chooses them over Oreos every time.

“It’s just the hunt, the chase, the journey, than what it [actually] tastes like [for me],” Josh said. “The Oreo stands for more than just a cookie, it’s more like an adventure. It’s something fun to go out and do as a hobby, but it’s not about the end goal.”

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