Cooking With Confidence
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A WhoNu Review

by Nick

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a huge amount of advertisements for a new brand of cookie called “WhoNu?”  They make a few different varieties of cookies that are supposedly much more nutritious than other brands of store cookies.

I thought it would be fun to see what the deal is with these guys.  Are all the nutritious claims true?  Do they taste good?  Is there a catch? (Hint: yes)

Before I get too far into the post, I think it’s important to remind everyone that I don’t get paid for these types of posts.  If I ever do get compensation for a post (or if a company sends me free stuff to review), I’ll disclose that first thing.

In this case, I paid my own hard-earned bucks for this bright orange box of cookies that I’ll never eat.

All for you.

Marketing Geniuses

Before I even get to the actual cookies, I think it’s worth noting that the marketing team behind these cookies is firing on all cylinders.  The box that the cookies are in is bright orange and stands out in the cookie aisle.

They also modeled each cookie off of already popular cookies.  So when you’re standing in the aisle, there are Oreos and these right next to each other.  That’s on purpose.

They want to go head-to-head with other cookie makers.

Nutritional Claims

All over the box and in the commercials for these cookies, they shout about how nutritious these things are.  Besides the above statements, here’s some other that are found all over the box:

– As much Vitamin A as an 8 ounce glass of tomato juice
– As much Vitamin B12 as a cup of cottage cheese and fruit
– As much Vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice
– As much Iron as a cup of spinach

The list really does go on.

I checked on all of their nutritional facts and here’s a few things I noticed.

1) They are all true.  I verified all of the nutritional claims that they have on the box and they are all true.  This didn’t really shock me.  They wouldn’t print a blatant lie on a new national product like this when people are obviously going to fact check them.

2) Oatmeal is a stretch. The one nutritional claim that I was super-skeptical about was the oatmeal claim.  Oatmeal has a lot of fiber in it.  A serving of these cookies has three grams of fiber, about 12%.  At first I thought I caught them in a lie because a serving of real rolled oats (the oatmeal I use) has 8 grams per serving, almost 40% of your daily needs.

After some thinking though, I realized that they are probably talking about instant oatmeal.  Sure enough, instant oatmeal has three grams of fiber.  So they aren’t lying, but it’s a big stretch.

I really think they shouldn’t be able to claim this has the same fiber as oatmeal.  They should have to say that it’s the instant variety because the health differences between real oats and instant oatmeal are huge.

3) Right foods.  Wrong reasons.  After looking up all of their facts, I realized what they are doing.  For the most part, they are taking a food that we associate with health, and matching up one of the lower amounts of vitamins in that food.

For example, they say as much Vitamin E as carrot juice.  Carrot juice is super-healthy, but it doesn’t have a lot of Vitamin E.  It has a HUGE amount of Vitamin A.  This goes for pretty much all of their comparisons.

Nutritional Facts

As always, when I’m evaluating a food product, I check out nutritional panel first.

Here’s what I noticed:

– These have 10 calories less than a serving of Oreo Cookies.

– These have .5g less saturated fat than Oreo Cookies.

– These have 1g less of sugar than Oreo Cookies.

So these are basically just slightly healthier Oreo cookies.

The Taste Test

I’m not a huge cookie guy although I’m occasionally a sucker for a chocolate chip pretzel cookie.

I have to be honest though, these tasted exactly like an Oreo cookie.  I can’t imagine that anyone would be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test unless you are an Oreo aficionado.

If you like Oreos, you’ll like these.  I’m assuming that their other cookies are probably equally good as other mass produced cookies.

They do not, however, make a double stuffed variety.  But you can make your own I guess.

More Nutritional Comparisons

I thought it would be fun to do some of my own nutritional comparisons on these cookies since they seem to be so big on comparisons.

A serving of WhoNu? Cookies has:

  • The same Sodium content as two slices of bacon.
  • More sugar than a Jolly Rancher candy.
  • More calories than a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola.
  • More fat than a Twinkie.
See what I did there?

A Cookie is a Cookie

The super-important thing to remember about these is that you’re still eating a cookie.  Don’t get blown away by their marketing department and sub-par nutritional comparisons.  You can’t eat 6 servings of these cookies every day and think you are good to go on nutrition.

It’s still a cookie and should be treated as what it is… a dessert.

At the end of the day, just take a daily vitamin and then you can straight-up ignore all of their nutritional claims and see it for what it is:  A cookie.

Why I Don’t Like WhoNu?

I don’t like this brand because they are capitalizing on uneducated Americans.  I absolutely guarantee you that there are people feeding these cookies to their kids for breakfast thinking that it’s the same as a bowl of oatmeal.

We don’t need any more confusion in the grocery store aisles.  We need clarity.  Making healthy cookies isn’t going to cure our obesity problems.  In fact, I think it will make them worse.

I like a cookie every once in awhile (WhoDoesnt?), but I don’t need my cookies to have some weird amount of Vitamin K.

I want my cookies to have butter.  And Chocolate.  And be worth it.

Feel free to eat cookies, but don’t think that by eating these new “nutrition rich” cookies that you are somehow doing your body a favor.

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21 comments on “A WhoNu Review

  1. The additional point is that nutritional sciences are relatively new, and we are still learning whether or not isolated vitamins and synthesised fibre actually have the same positive effects on the body as those in, say, oatmeal and blueberries.

  2. This whole thing of making junk food sound healthy is just so sleazy. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying junk food as a treat, but there’s just so much profit in selling junk that they want to sell nothing else.

  3. Great post Nick. I’ve seen these all over the place and it infuriates me. In addition to what you’ve mentioned above, it’s one of those products claiming “no trans fat” when partially hydrogenated oils are listed in the ingredients. Along with all that GMO corn and soy. Gross. Great, great post. Thank you.

  4. This is my issue with Whole Foods–they’ve built up this brand image based on healthy foods that are better for us, but to me the store is 90% processed foods. I can’t tell you how many moms I know who are spending $400/week on groceries to shop there, but “healthy” junk food doesn’t mean it’s good for you; it’s still junk food.

    1. That’s very true. I generally like whole foods for their produce, meats, and grain selection, but a lot of their processed foods aren’t any better for you, in my opinion, than any other selection.

    1. Actually the ingredient list is pretty standard and cookie like. They basically just add in those nutrients. Honestly, it seems like they just crush up a few multi-vitamins and stir it into the mix.

      A few milligrams of various vitamins is completely undetectable when it comes to taste and stuff.

  5. “I don’t like this brand because they are capitalizing on uneducated Americans….” and that is the saddest part of all because those are exactly the people that continue to eat at McDonalds, and other fast food joints not realizing how bad the foods really are on them because they were never told/educated at an early age the value of true, whole foods.

    Excellent post Nick.

  6. You nailed it. A cooking with a weird amount of vitamin K should raise your eyebrows. My Grandma, a cookie expert and my baking instructor oft said “its a poor cookie that doesn’t grease its own pan.”

  7. While processed is processed, I don’t think Whole Foods necessarily says that everything they carry is totally healthy and unprocessed. They maintain that they have more healthy items to offer to the consumer and focus on natural ingredients in what is offered.

    I don’t think comparing them to something like this marketing strategy for the cookies is alike at all. The WhoNu brand is a total lie and the ingredient list is sad to say the least.

  8. Good looking out. I am wary of any junk food claiming nutritional benefits, especially when each one has an * by it, but I can see why many people would be fooled by their claims. Fortunately, I don’t like Oreos let alone psuedoreos, but that doesn’t make me any less offended by what these companies do.

  9. Super job Nick! Thank you! Also, must say, I find very funny this coincidence: in Russian street language the name of the product sounds very appropriate to the topic here. If some one tells that somebody is saying “whonu” it literally means they are saying “F-n BS” :)

  10. if i’m gonna use up my daily sodium intake and had to pick between a fake oreo and 2 strips of bacon, bacon wins. bacon always wins.

  11. Couldn’t help but notice this. I am ever so slightly altering a previous response about this very topic. As someone who has yet to find enough foods she dislikes to use two hands to count them on (and I’m only 130 lbs!) I will admit to playing devil’s advocate.

    ___

    Bought a box of these a week and a half ago. I was surprised at the taste. I expected something that would taste close to those fiber wafers that my Bigmama wanted to feed all of us when we were kids. Sweet, buttery, just a tad dryer than a Golden Oreo (I got the vanilla kind, being a vanilla junkie), and surprisingly satisfying. The vitamins were a bonus, what with a minor calcium deficiency to account for. A tasty cookie to be sure.

    Bottom line: this is a cookie. This is a cookie that has been fortified with added vitamins and minerals. Being a cookie, this is still a junk food—much in the way that a creme brulee made with fat-free half-and-half is still junk food and can only dubiously be passed off as a health food*. However, this cookie does have its uses: keeping half a dozen of them in my purse has been a better fit than keeping rolls of glucose tablets has ever been (I’m hypoglycemic): I pop a cookie and a swig from my water bottle, and I can actually survive the two buses and a train home from work on a long day. It’s probably because there’s more than just sugar in them, and I’d likely get the same result from an Oreo—but at least these fortified cookies are doing -a little bit more.-

    Even so, as far as cookies go, it’s better for you than an unfortified cookie. And ‘natural versus artificial,’ while important to me, means a whole lot of nothing when my blood sugar’s bottoming out on the middle of the Metro platform.

    WhoNu I’d be defending a cookie?

    *(That creme brulee example is a true example, by the by: I learned how to make it as such when I learned that I couldn’t tolerate high levels of milkfat as found in whole milk and cream. Necessity does some interesting things to the menu. The same trick works in cream-based soups, which is good since I can’t handle cream without having to curl into a small, vaguely comma-shaped object afterwards. …oddly, the skim milk I have my two WhoNu with is no problem at all.)

  12. I bought these cookies… They taste nothing like Oreo cookies. Though good, the taste is 100% different from Oreo cookies… I’d also like to point out, in reading the actual nutritional facts on the back, and comparing them side by side with carnation instant breakfast, which has been -Proven- to have all of the Vitamins and Minerals it says, they are nearly the same, though the WhoNu had less. I can believe these cookies have what they say, because if it can all be concentrated into a powered drink, what is stopping it from being added to the cookie/cream portions of the WhoNu cookie? In fact further study has actually shown this is in fact the way they process it before making the cookie. Heck, in a single Centrum Vitamin, there are even more, and it’s all in a little pill form. Is it -really- that hard to believe they aren’t lying?

    1. Right… but it’s still a cookie. Just because it’s fortified doesn’t make it healthy. I’m not saying they are lying about what’s in the cookies, I’m just saying that they are trying to sell cookies as something healthy. At the end of the day, they are still cookies. You aren’t going to lose weight or feel better by eating these on a daily basis.

  13. I think most of you are missing the point (as is any idiot who thinks these would make a good breakfast for their kids). The company (and I) start with the assumption that YOU ARE GOING TO EAT COOKIES. All they are saying is “so, you were going to eat 3 oreos? Try these and get a nutritional boost oreos doesn’t offer.” I don’t see them saying anything like “this is a great meal substitute.” It’s aimed for junk food eaters like me (and most Americans)–not you healthy eaters. Of course, you guys aren’t interested–you weren’t eating oreos anyway. These are for those of us that buy potato chips with fake fat to save a few calories. Unfortunately, I’m a taste purist, and I’ve read enough to know these cookies are not going to hit the mark for me. Sigh.

    1. Try them instead of assuming they are not acceptable, Mary. Don’t be like the people on Amazon who grade a product without even trying it! My wife and I like them marginally better over Oreo’s because they are actually better tasting. The person above that said they taste nothing like Oreo’s is well, totally wrong. They are very close, so much so that all the people we shared them with can’t tell the difference. As you pointed out, they are not claiming to be a health food alternative as the above nay-sayers are loathing, but a healthy version of a cherished junk food.

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