The Washington Post

Lady Gaga Oreos: An extra-sweet enigma wrapped in a pink wafer

- BY TIM CARMAN

Since they were released in late January, Lady Gaga Oreos have generated a lot of words, many of them from writers who want to give us an idea of how the pink-and-green cookies taste. It’s a perfectly logical pursuit, of course, service journalism with a clear eye on Little Monster clicks.

So, here I am, listening to the soundtrack to “A Star Is Born” (2018 version, naturally) in my home office, wolfing down a small stack of cookies that look as if they were swiped from a Tim Burton set and feeling like I have more questions than answers about Lady Gaga Oreos. I’m no Gaga-ologist, but I get the sense that she, as an artist and fellow traveler on this big blue marble, wouldn’t be crass enough to merely endorse a product tie-in, as if her cookies were the equivalent of “Avengers: Infinity War” Ziploc bags.

One of the promotions tied to Gaga’s cookies is a “Sing It With Oreo” feature. You can make personal recordings, transform them into “musical messages of kindness” and send them to folks you love and support. The pink foil packaging for Gaga Oreos features a QR code, which provides instant access to the recording function. You probably have to give up countless pieces of personal informatio­n in the process, but go ahead, “Just sing from the heart, and make someone’s day a little brighter.”

The kindness is reinforced with Oreo’s support of the Born This Way Foundation, which Gaga co-founded as a way to help young people create a more welcoming world and to provide resources for their mental health.

I’ve been listening to “Chromatica,” Lady Gaga’s latest album, and despite its many dance grooves, it is a challengin­g collection, at least lyrically. The narrators in her songs — it’s probably unwise to assume Gaga is always talking about herself, even though she has all but said the album reflects her personal journey — wrestle with doubts, inner demons and self-destructio­n. It’s dark, confession­al stuff, all set to beats that keep your feet moving, even as your heart aches at the human frailties embedded in the lyrics.

“I hope that they listen to this record and go on not only my

personal journey with me and dance through all the pain,” Gaga said to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, “but also go through their own journey and dance through all their pain.”

Some sample lyrics from “Chromatica,” from “Alice,” Gaga’s twist on “Alice in Wonderland”:

(Oh ma-ma-ma, oh ma-mama)

I’m tired of screaming

(Oh ma-ma-ma, oh ma-mama)

At the top of my lungs

(Oh my mother, oh my mother)

I’m in the hole, I’m falling down, down

So down, down

What does this have to do with Lady Gaga Oreos, you ask? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.

On perhaps the album’s best song, a pulsating piece of electronic dance music titled “Plastic Doll,” Gaga sings that she’s “lived in a pink box so long.”

The imagery is reinforced with the “Chromatica” cover art, in which Gaga looks like a steampunk warrior-goddess pinned down against a sidewalk grate in some post-apocalypti­c world. The grate is pink and rectangula­r, like a box.

But the pink box may not even be literal. It may be metaphoric­al, a box that confines and traps so many women who struggle to live up to the impossible standards of beauty and perfection establishe­d for them at a young age, by toys such as Barbie and her tidy pink world of accessorie­s and cars and homes. In promoting “Chromatica,” Gaga has worn a number of pink or pink-accented outfits and bodysuits, suggesting dolls, bondage or scars that won’t heal.

Pink, in this context, represents something artificial. It represents someone else’s ideal of perfection, which is ultimately unattainab­le and therefore toxic.

As a critic in the New York Times wrote in its dissection of “Chromatic,” the album embraces Gaga’s old dance persona while “retaining the humanity that was stripped from her as she was objectifie­d and jettisoned to the realm of the hyperfamou­s.”

The Lady Gaga Oreo gives you a representa­tion of that artificial­ity, in cookie wafer form, tinted a shade of pink that you rarely see in commercial foodstuffs. (I should note these pink wafers also feature design elements from the “Chromatica” album, which reinforces a basic product tie-in.) You literally have to bite through the hard wafer to get to the sweet cream inside, which itself is bright green. The color’s connection to nature, not the artificial world, can’t be ignored. Green is associated with harmony, restoratio­n, peace.

You could argue, then, that Gaga is taking us on a personal journey not only with her album but also with her Oreo, which is available for a limited time only. She wants you to see your own journey along the way, too.

And how does the Lady Gaga Oreo taste? Well, it’s really sweet, just like learning to live life on your own terms.

 ?? SCOTT SUCHMAN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST FOOD STYLING BY MARIE OSTROSKY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ?? Are these Oreos a simple example of cross-branding or more than meets the sweet tooth? On her latest album, Lady Gaga sings that she’s “lived in a pink box so long.” Maybe this is a sugary metaphor.
SCOTT SUCHMAN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST FOOD STYLING BY MARIE OSTROSKY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST Are these Oreos a simple example of cross-branding or more than meets the sweet tooth? On her latest album, Lady Gaga sings that she’s “lived in a pink box so long.” Maybe this is a sugary metaphor.

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