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Medicine Science

No, Oreos Aren't As Addictive As Cocaine 285

Daniel_Stuckey writes "If you give a mouse a cookie, you can spend all day following it around the house while it wants to do a bunch of tedious activities. Or, you can trap it in a box, keep feeding it cookies, and then make the outrageous claim that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. Students at Connecticut College opted for the second option, and the consequences that ensued were much more annoying than making some arts and crafts with a darn mouse. Fox News reported that a 'College study finds Oreo cookies are as addictive as drugs,' Forbes explained 'Why Your Brain Treats Oreos Like a Drug,' and a ton of other sites ran with the story as well. Here's how the experiment, which has not been peer reviewed and has not been presented yet, went down. Mice were placed in a maze, with one end holding an Oreo and the other end holding a rice cake. The mice, without fail, decided to eat the Oreo over the rice cake, proving once and for all that mice like cookies better than tasteless discs with a styrofoamy texture."
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No, Oreos Aren't As Addictive As Cocaine

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  • If you apply your favorite peanut butter, then the it holds the notoriously fractious cake together better.
  • by BenSchuarmer ( 922752 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:55PM (#45146931)
    there's nothing worse than having little bits of cookie up your nose.
  • by themushroom ( 197365 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:56PM (#45146937) Homepage

  • by mayko ( 1630637 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:57PM (#45146941)
    Seems reasonable that when you lock an animal (including humans) in a shitty little box it's going to over indulge in activities that work on the pleasure centers of the brain. However, given freedom and a wide range of stimuli it might be less susceptible to addiction as we have defined it. See the controversial Rat Park study ( which showed evidence that when researchers gave lab rats a suitable and pleasurable living environment opiates were no longer addictive.
    • OTOH, if you wire a rats pleasure center up to a lever it can pull to give itself pleasure, the sucker will hang on to that lever until it dies of exhaustion.
      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        No, not true. No study shows that. And for the most part you have to get the animal addicted first against it's better judgement.

        Nothing will ever make up for all those animals I've tried to addict and sacrificed just because the human animal is so lazy and adverse of responsibility that it needs a pill to control its behaviour instead of will power and societal change..

    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

      No longer AS addictive. Environment isn't the only factor, otherwise rich people wouldn't become addicts and alcoholics.

      If environment were the main factor you could just put people in high priced treatment centers full of waterfalls and back rubs resulting in 100% recovery.

      I agree that Rat Park was an interesting experiment but some people tend to take its results and run away with them. Oversimplifying to support their politics.

      • you could just put people in high priced treatment centers full of waterfalls and back rubs resulting in 100% recovery.

        That sounds so great

        They should build one of those for recovering programmers.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        That might actually work better than current treatment if they didn't have to go back to a crappy job, crappier apartment and not enough food after treatment.

        i sincerely doubt it would eliminate addiction, but it would likely help. It would certainly be more helpful than jail.

        • I agree totally. I've got friends who work in the treatment field, and they all agree; with a good enough treatment facility and daily attention, you can keep most of the people clean. But it is always temporary; they have to go back out in the world. And then they relapse. If they just stayed in treatment forever, they would be much happier.

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        You obviously have a very wrong impression of the environment rich people live in!
        • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

          As a very obviously non-rich person I imagine the main difference is a lack of day to day "how will I pay the rent??" and being able to afford comfortable living arrangements.

          Then there's vacations, spa visits, constant entertainment and overall boredom.

          Sounds like Rat Park to me. If they have nice environments and still get addicted then like I said Rat Park is missing the emotional or human element to it. Perhaps daddy is holding back the trust fund or threatening it if I marry the wrong person.

          You can't

    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      There's nothing scientifically controversial about the rat park study. The only controversy is why we still do drug research when all the models point towards society as the cause of drug abuse.

      N.B. I had to quit drug research because I treated animals too good and they refused to become addicted! Only time I was proud to be a failure!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:59PM (#45146961)

    Proof? They both seem to result in crazy people making stupid decision.

    My reasoning is unassailable.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:59PM (#45146963)

    The mice, without fail, decided to eat the Oreo over the rice cake, proving once and for all that mice like cookies better than tasteless discs with a styrofoamy texture.

    Of course, amongst women, the opposite behavior is seen. At least the ones I know. Does this mean that the tasteless discs with a styrofoam-like texture are actually highly addictive? No. Which means it's easier to get addicted to an abstract ideal about beauty than it is an Oreo cookie. Surprised, I am not. In other news, find me a picture of this professor so I can photoshop him into a new meme along the lines of "I don't want to live on this planet anymore." I'd be ashamed if my students arrived at such a far-fetched and obviously wrong solution, and I allowed them to publish it... it would make me wonder if I'd managed to teach them anything at all...

    • I suspect two things: first, that the only thing that the instructor managed to teach was how important it is to your career to publish as much as you can. Second, that the instructor doesn't really give a flip of the fingertip that that's all that was learned.
    • by jc42 ( 318812 )

      I'd be ashamed if my students arrived at such a far-fetched and obviously wrong solution, and I allowed them to publish it... it would make me wonder if I'd managed to teach them anything at all...

      Ummm ... The story seems to make it clear that this "study" hasn't been published at all. But it did get leaked to the mass media, who did their usual scientifically-illiterate hack job on it, and used it to support their own favorite beliefs.

      The only story here is the usual one about how the media finds ways to radically distort both the best and the worst "scientific" work into social propaganda. This includes routinely presenting work that can't even vaguely qualify for the term "scientific" as a "S

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:01PM (#45146969) Homepage

    Clearly, what they demonstrated was that the mice would go for the item with the highest density of calories & fat.


    Now make it really interesting, replace rice patty with a peanut butter cup. And it's an all out rat race.

    • There was an interesting study from 30 years ago where they fed people whipped concoctions woth varying amounts of sugar and fat.

      The thinner you were, the more you preferred the sweeter ones, and the fatter, the fatter ones. As fat contains more calories per unit than sugar, it could be enlightening...

      If anyone actually paid attention, which they don't. Basically fat people are fat more because of cheeseburgers and pizza than cakes and donuts.
      Actually, it correlates with diet soda. Actually, it correlate

    • No, they should have put cocaine at the other end. Then we'd know for sure if Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. A simple test made complex by lack of the right resources.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        They did use cocaine. They used cocaine, a saline solution and Oreos. The brain chemistry in eating Oreos and the drugs they used, morphine and cocaine, had the same results.

    • by Arker ( 91948 )

      "Clearly, what they demonstrated was that the mice would go for the item with the highest density of calories & fat."

      Yes, indeed. "Researchers" have "proven" that food is addictive.

      So is oxygen, btw. Just say no. Think of the children.

  • Stopped reading at (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 )

    ..Fox News

  • by flug ( 589009 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:03PM (#45146991)

    He's developed his own measure for it: The percentage of people who will develop the disease of dependency, based on the DSM-IV guidelines, if they use a drug. . . .

    "According to that, the most chemically addictive is nicotine because one third of people who use it during their lifetime will develop dependency," he said. "For cocaine, it's 20 percent. For heroin, it's 23 percent."

    So by that standard, Oreos = 0% addictive.

    Oh, well.

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:04PM (#45147009)
    ...the either have a war on food, or legalize drugs.
  • by bradgoodman ( 964302 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:10PM (#45147053) Homepage
    I pushed the "stupid" button as soon as I read that. You can't just compare something to "drugs" - because different drugs work differently - and have differing levels of addictive qualities for very different reasons. For example, diploids (like Heroin) jack with your dopamine levels and are highly addictive, whereas stimulants (like cocaine) or depressants (like alcohol) can have very different affects in different people due to things like genetic factors, and mechanisms for ADD (which affect how stimulants affect you) - but in general are less addictive. Then there are things like tobacco that aren't "drugs" - but are also highly addictive.

    So in other words...WTF??

    (P.S. I'm not really educated in any of this kind of stuff and don't really know what I'm talking about - so don't bother correcting me)

    • Mod up.

      I think WTF is, the kids doing the "study" knew exactly what kind of phrases to use to make it highly likely that news sources would run with the story. It's kinda like a news outlet version of a "mail forward".

      In fact, this could be an entertaining game, if it isn't already. Produce some bogus datum, wrap it in the kind of buzzwords news outlets find irresistible, and see what national news agencies fall for it.

    • (P.S. I'm not really educated in any of this kind of stuff and don't really know what I'm talking about - so don't bother correcting me)

      Actually, your assessment is pretty much spot on - "drugs" describes an uncountable number of substances, many of which are legal and some which are not.

      Even if we assumed the writer was specifically referring to illicit/illegal drugs, there's still a few thousand different kinds, each with its own properties and addiction rates.

      Stupid hardly even begins to describe what's going on here, both with the "researcher's" study and the "journalists" reporting it.

    • You can't just compare something to "drugs" - because different drugs work differently -

      The fact that they have differing mechanisms of action doesn't mean you can't compare something to them. And the fact that something isn't technically a drug (tobacco) doesn't mean it can't be addictive and doesn't mean it doesn't in fact contain a drug (nicotine).

      and have differing levels of addictive qualities

      Here's where the sensationalism of this /. submission can be addressed. The "Motherboard" article goes to great length to disparage this experiment, but also admits that "addiction" isn't mentioned in the DSM-IV. That is a good indication that t

      • by maird ( 699535 )

        Somewhere there was a comment about being addicted to food. As in, you can't be. Well, yes, you can, in the pure dependence meaning of the term, too. If you don't eat food you suffer extreme withdrawal symptoms. Death can be a final symptom. And you can be addicted to foods in the common language meaning of addiction. Mmmm, I love mint chocolate chip ice cream. I have a strong urge to eat it...

        In which case water is even more addictive than even food (the mean number of person-days water is taken is bound to be higher than the mean number of person-days food is taken). Better still, food is not only addictive, it is the most overdosed on substance in the world with food pusher's selling as much as multiple daily overdoses to anyone who can afford a fix.

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Always amazing how those that THINK they know post authoritative statements. There are absolutely categorizations of 'addiction' in the DSM-IV, which just proves you don't know what you are talking about.

        Perhaps in the same manner that a dmv worker isn't a specialist in driving. Nice try at self-importance though.

  • What's the white stuff in an Oreo, Alex?

    • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:23PM (#45147169)

      It cannot be lard as Oreo cookies are one of the very rare commercially-made treat that also happens to be vegan except maybe the white sugar in it, if you're an extreme vegan.

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        that also happens to be vegan except maybe the white sugar in it

        What extremes of veganism has white sugar coming from animals? There aren't any sugar cows. Sugar comes from cane or beets, not an animal. Or have we just slouching into equating vegan with "hobby farm diet" now?

        • See reply from rubycodez, above.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          Many things use animal parts in the production process. In this case, bone char is used to whiten the sugar: []

          I don't think it's particularly extreme for vegans to avoid those that are straightforward to avoid. I've easily met 10 people who have chosen one beer over another because it isn't filtered with isinglass (fish bladder extract). So far, no one has made a big deal about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:13PM (#45147081)

    You know more than a few people must have thought that when this piece of shit excuse for a "study" made its way into the headlines. Just how many years now will I - or the great minds of /. - have to go around correcting morons who will repeat this shit, having never bothered to read the article, learn about the source, to critically analyze the source, to think about the study, to see what, if any, corroborating evidence was subsequently discovered or not, and checked for any retractions or clear refutations? Beyond that, what the fuck ever happened to journalism?

    Damn it all to hell, I need an Oreo. (1.86 Stuf please)

  • Mom sez... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:16PM (#45147107)

    If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass milk.
    If you give him some milk, he'll want more. If you give a mouse more milk, he'll develop a taste for human blood.
      If he develops a taste for human blood, he'll become a vampire. If he becomes a vampire, he'll have to make followers.
    Now, if he makes some followers, they'll need to feed. If they feed too much, the national guard will be called out.
    If the national gaurd is called out, they, too, will become fodder for the vampires. If the national guard fails, the President will call in a nuclear strike.
    If a nuke is dropped, hundreds of thousands of people will die. America will become a nuclear wasteland and collapse.
    With no one to keep the rest of the world's nukes in check, every crackpot nation will launch their own.
    Eventually the entire earth will be destroyed. And that's why I had to kill Daddy.
    He was giving a mouse a cookie. Sleep well, sweetie.

  • rice cakes (Score:5, Funny)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:18PM (#45147119) Journal

    > The mice, without fail, decided to eat the Oreo over the rice cake, proving once and for all that mice like cookies better than tasteless discs with a styrofoamy texture."

    Hey, I happen to like rice cakes. They're nice and crunchy, and they taste good. With a little cinnamon. And powdered sugar. And peanut butter. And then drenched with maple syrup.

    Yes, the diet is coming along fine, why do you ask?

    • there are also good with cheese, jelly, tuna, other meat....not altogether at once. conclusion: rice cakes are making me fat

      • So, a more valid test would be to smear the rice cakes with lard-based vanilla-frosting-like substance, dump chocolate syrup on it, and put *that* on one side of the maze.

  • Which seems to indicate that there is some basis for comparability between the two, even if they are different, and further research is needed.

    "the articles from this symposium provide evidence that neurological similarities exist in the response of humans (6) and rats (7,9) to foods and to drugs. Two of the reports (6,7), as well as our own work (14–16), suggest that even highly palatable food is not addictive in and of itself. Rather, it is the manner in which the food is presented (i.e., intermitte

    • (Note, I'm not responding to the criticism of the not-peer-reviewed study in the article which I agree is a useless study, but rather its later assertion).

  • I don't think anyone has truly considered the ramifications of superintelligent pandimensional projections appearing as mice and influencing our experiments... How else would you program a global scale quantum supercomputer made up of sentient neural network applications? Consider that to us, any observable differentiation between themselves normal laboratory mice would directly collapse the delicate superposition of science and fiction...

    Ergo: The more important question is: WHY do the mice want you to t

  • IDK about you, but you don't want to be anywhere near me when my Oreo supply runs out...I'll cut you, bitch! I'll cut you deep! :)

    Seriously, though, at first I thought this was a legit test, but it's pure BS. A better* test would be three groups of mice in three mazes: Cookie vs Cocaine, Cookie vs Rice Cake and Cocaine vs Rice Cake. Guess what? Bet'cha rice cakes would be considered more addictive than cocaine as well, allowing us to draw the conclusion that...mice like food, the more calorie-rich, the

  • There are a lot of "addictive" qualities of many of the food products we ingest. Many of them are engineered to delay the "satisfy button" in our systems so that we eat more. (The common response to this problem is people asserting "eat more slowly" and "drink more water") and to that I say... uh, no. In a busy life, one doesn't always have time to pause and "enjoy" food. Eating is sometimes an interruption of whatever it is we are doing... fun, work, whatever. We are not always at leisure to determine

  • the ones with a serious interest in cookies were the students. Anyone care to guess the relative risk of a mouse vs. a human, as seen by an Oreo in the study?
  • The only useful information from that experiment is that rodents also like to eat the cream filling first, then the cookie.

  • by Bartles ( 1198017 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:12PM (#45147573)
    ...have put an Oreo at one side of the maze and a line of cocaine at the other if they really wanted to see which was more addictive?
    • I'm not into uppers/stimulants. I'd rather do a line of oreos off a hookers ass any day of the week. but then, I'd rather do the hooker than the oreos. proving women are more addictive than cocaine or oreos

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:41PM (#45147861) Journal

    ...that chocolate is addictive. Lacking mice, I used my dog as a test subject. I put my closed fist in front of him with a few chocolate chips inside, and he drooled all over it. Now, everyone knows that chocolate makes dogs sick. (Methylxanthine poisoning.) So the fact that he really really wanted to eat it is observable proof that chocolate is addicting. I mean hello -- highly attractive, bad for you, quod ita sit. Stay. Heel. Stop slobbering.

    All I need to do is couch this in flamboyant, headline-ready terms, and the networks will eat it up. So to speak.


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