Every so often, manufacturing reaches a milestone.  Today is one of those days, for the Oreo cookie turns 100.  It is one of the many delicious snack foods produced by manufacturers in this country.

The Oreo’s success reflects a key point about modern manufacturing: today’s marketplace is global. While the Oreo may be “America’s Favorite Cookie,” consumers in this country represent a just small share of consumers worldwide.  Indeed, 95 percent of consumers live outside our borders, and reaching those individuals is key to growth.

It’s not always easy.  A story in the Wall Street Journal a few years back highlighted efforts to bring the Oreo to China.  After a “grassroots marketing campaign to educate Chinese consumers about the American tradition of pairing milk with cookies” and a reformulation of the Oreo to suit Chinese tastes, the cookie won China.

That’s what manufacturers do: adapt, innovate and ultimately provide consumers with products that make life better.  Today, the Oreo is enjoyed around the world.

What’s in store for the next century?  No doubt the Oreo will face challenges, as it did over the last 100 years.  The cookie, however, has proved resilient. Whether it’s dispatching a competitor like Hydrox or beating back attempts by nanny-staters to take away life’s little pleasures, the numbers don’t lie: 450 billion cookies sold.

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