Oreo cookies. I don’t know anyone who says they don’t like them, even if they won’t eat them. There are several other brands of chocolate sandwich cookies that aim to be healthier using organic and natural ingredients. My family and I and several friends, set out to find out how these other sandwich cookies stack up to the Oreo.

I chose four brands of sandwich cookies to taste test against the Oreos. Here are the contestants:

Newman-O’s ($3.79 for 16oz) – Paul Newman’s version of the Oreo is made from several organic ingredients, but isn’t USDA organic certified.

Joe-Joe’s ($2.49 for 20oz) – Trader Joe’s All Natural Chocolate Vanilla Crème Cookies with real vanilla bean spekles.

Wild Harvest ($2.99 for 16oz) – My local Acme’s organic brand of USDA organic chocolate sandwich cookies.

Late July ($3.99 for 9oz)– These USDA organic chocolate sandwich cookies are made with green tea.

Oreos ($3.19 for 18oz) – The one to beat.

So what did my panel of elementary school boys and three adults have to say?

First up were the Newman-O’s. These looked very much like Oreo’s with the same dark cookie and similarly thick filling.

Ingredients: organic unbleached wheat flour, organic sugar, powdered sugar, organic palm fruit oil, canola oil (expeller pressed), organic cocoa, cocoa (processed with alkali, organic unsweetened chocolate, natural flavor, salt, sodium bicarbonate, soy lecithin)

These were good. Several of the kids said they tasted just like an Oreo, and I agree they were the closest in taste to an Oreo. They were, however, a bit sweeter. A very good substitute with better ingredients.

Next we tried the Joe-Joe’s. These, too, looked a lot like Oreos.

Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monoitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, expeller pressed soybean oil, cocoa processed with alkali, evaporated cane juice syrup, corn starch, natural flavors, baking soda, salt, soy lecithin, vanilla bean seeds

A few people, including my husband, liked these even more than the Oreos. Everyone enjoyed them and said they’d be happy to eat them anytime. There are no organic ingredients in here, but the high fructose corn syrup and the artificial vanillin found in the Oreos aren’t in here either — so I’d think they are a better choice health wise. Plus, the price is really good.

We moved on to the Late July cookies. These look nothing like an Oreo. The cookie is much lighter in color and they are thinner.

Ingredients: organic wheat flour, organic powdered evaporated cane juice with organic cornstarch, organic palm oil, organic evaporated cane juice, organic whole wheat flour, organic cocoa (processed with alkali), organic brown rice syrup, organic vanilla extract, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, organic roasted barley, organic chocolate liquor, sodium bicarbonate, soy lecithin, organic cocoa butter, sea salt, natural flavors, organic green tea extract

These cookies could not be passed off as a substitute for Oreos, and to be fair, it doesn’t look like they are trying to do that. Sure, they are chocolate sandwich cookies with a cream filling, but the look of them is very different. The all-organic ingredients are impressive, but the taste was a disappointment to everyone who tried, except for one 9-year-old boy. They also seemed oily. One kid said they tasted like broccoli. I’m thinking that particular child doesn’t like broccoli.

I think that if they weren’t being tasted against Oreos, they might stand a chance of being a good cookie. But if you’re specifically looking for a healthier Oreo, these aren’t going to do it for you.

Finally, we tried the Wild Harvest which look a lot like the generic sandwich cookies that people buy for the cookie trays at church.

Ingredients: organic dehydrated cane juice, organic wheat flour, organic palm oil, organic cocoa, organic invert sugar, sea salt, baking soda, organic vanilla extract, natural flavour, soy lecithin, organic canola and/or organic sunflower and/or organic soybean oil

The Wild Harvest cookies had the same problem that the Wild Harvest hot chocolate had two weeks ago when we taste tested hot cocoas. They had an overwhelming taste of sweet and not much of a taste of chocolate. The kids liked them — not as well as some of the others, but they were fine with the over sugary taste. The adults weren’t so thrilled. They were not an acceptable substitute for Oreos in our minds.

And the Oreos. We couldn’t compare the others without having the original.

Ingredients: sugar, enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monoitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), high oleic canola oil and/or palm oil and/or canola oil and/or soybean oil, cocoa (processed with alkali, high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate), cornstarch, slat, soy lecithin, vanillin — an artificial flavor, chocolate

Sure, we all liked the Oreos. They’re Oreos, after all. Good crunchy cookie, familiar cream center. And I’d be happy with them if not for their ingredients — particularly the high fructose corn syrup and the vanillin.

What’s my advice when all is said and done?

I wouldn’t call any of these cookies health food. They are processed chocolate sandwich cookies and should be eaten as a treat and not used as a daily snack. But, we all appreciate a treat now and then.

Best substitute for an Oreo: Newman-O’s. They look and taste the closest to what we’ve grown up with.

Best bang for your buck: Joe-Joe’s. They’ve got the best price and everyone likes them. Their ingredients are all natural (not that the phrase always means healthy).

Best for your health: Probably the Late July’s. But they are pricey, and their taste didn’t go over so well. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Taste testing chocolate sandwich cookies
What healthier version of a chocolate sandwich cookie tastes most similar to an Oreo? My family and friends taste them all to find out.