If you scoff when people refer to themselves as “chocoholics,” don’t. (Well, do, but only because that’s a stupid word.) Students at Connecticut College just did a study on Oreo cookies, and found that their rats were just as attracted to the cookies as they were to cocaine.
The study trained rats to associate one side of a maze with either cookies or cocaine, and the other side with rice cakes. (Nom.) The rats, they found, developed “an equally strong association between the pleasure effects of eating Oreos” and the Oreo side of the maze as they developed between hard drugs and the hard drug side of the maze. In other words, they were equally motivated to aim for the side with the addictive white stuff, whether that was coke or Oreo creme. (They were not so interested in the rice cake side of the maze.)
The take-away? Well, maybe it’s just that Oreos are as appealing as cocaine when the alternative is rice cakes, which when you put it that way doesn’t sound surprising. But it could be that the processed food industry is not so different from the underground drug industry. It knows what your brain wants and it just shows up and sells it to you at elevated prices.
Also? You are not so different from a lab rat, in this one particular instance: Faced with an Oreo, according to one researcher, “they would break it open and eat the middle first.”
- Student-faculty research shows Oreos are just as addictive as drugs in lab rats, Connecticut College
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