If Oreos had existed at the turn of the twentieth century, Sherlock Holmes might have been addicted to them rather than cocaine. Joseph Schroeder, a neuroscientist from Connecticut College, has evidence that Oreos can be as addictive as the drug because they catalyze the same neurons in the brain’s pleasure center.
Schroeder and his colleagues performed lab testing in which rats were put in a maze which had two paths, one to rice cakes and one to Oreos. After the rats found both paths, they were allowed to roam freely, and they overwhelmingly chose Oreos.
The test was a replica of one involving saline injections on one side and cocaine on the other, and the results of both tests were that the time spent with the cocaine was the same as the time they spent with the Oreos.
The rats also preferred the cream part of the Oreo to the chocolate biscuit.
Schroeder wrote about his study:
Our research supports the theory that high-fat and high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic. [The results] lend support to the hypothesis that maladaptive eating behaviors contributing to obesity can be compared to drug addiction.
Schroeder told Today.com, “I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment.”