On the scale of notorious celebrity merchandise from Gwyneth Paltrow’s candles to Belle Delphine’s GamerGirl Bathwater, Lady Gaga’s new line of Oreos are relatively mild. Packaged in bright magenta plastic that vaguely radiates an aura of futurism and camp in equal measure, these are not your typical chocolate–and–white–creme Oreos. Instead, they are “pink–colored golden cookie[s]” filled with neon “green creme,” per the label’s description.
On the side of the package, the new brand of Oreo is advertised as “A Cookie Inspired By Lady Gaga.” Underneath this reiterative assertion, there is a sharp line of cryptic yet alluring symbols from her 2020 album, which lends the package an air of intrigue. And under that, Gaga’s latest mantra is typed out in a skinny, typewriter–like font, as if to hint at some sort of authenticity: “In Chromatica no one thing is greater than another.” I had to stifle a fit of laughter when first seeing it.
Lady Gaga’s Oreos are a strange culmination of a lifetime of work for the atypical pop star. Once under constant scrutiny from the media and hellbent on shocking the American public from one outrageous outfit to the next, she was an outlier as much as the mainstream accepted her. All of that changed in 2018 when she starred in Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born. Suddenly, she was America’s darling, humanized by the role of Ally Maine—relatable and down to earth.
The larger–than–life pop star born from an alien planet became a person. Chromatica sought to reclaim some of that avant–garde star power while balancing her newfound soft side. These Oreos are emblematic of this balancing act, at once a concession to public appeal and an extension of her latest album campaign. She’s still out there—the album’s “story” is literally located on another planet—yet she is grounded in the ways of capitalism. Gaga’s Oreos are an All–American endeavor.
Plastered on the top and the sides of the parcel in a so–obvious–you–can’t–miss–it way is the cookies’ namesake, in bolded white, all–caps letters—in case you forget who Gaga partnered with. On the bottom is a QR code which leads you to a website where you can send friends voice messages, made by Lady Gaga herself, or you can make your own. Taken as a whole, the result is a bizarre product that exists in that murky area between art and consumerism, a Warholian exhibition of capitalism pimped out in pink and packaged for the masses.
When I received my first pack of Chromatica Oreos a week ago, it felt like I was holding a collector’s item: too precious to eat, yet dangerously enticing to behold. I ignored the fold at the top of the plastic, sealed airtight, and instead carefully opened it on its side to preserve its pristine condition. I slid out the tray of Oreos. There they were, in all their gay glory, lined up in three cylindrical cavities that were stained with green creme.
I ate one and then another, each one more addictive than the last. They tasted nothing like their chocolate siblings, nor their golden ones. Pure sugar and uranium–green food dye, the icing—which slid off easily with the flick of my tongue—was the most addictive part. I had to push them away from myself, sliding them down the dining table at which I work, to resist temptation. By the end of the next day, they were already gone.