Lady Gaga Oreos are an extra-sweet mystery wrapped in an enigmatic pink wafer

Tim Carman

THE WASHINGTON POST – 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 artiste and fellow traveller 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 a “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 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.

Lady Gaga Oreos are an extra-sweet mystery wrapped in an enigmatic pink wafer. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
Lady Gaga is taking us on a personal journey not only with her album, but also with her Oreo

“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-ma-ma);

I’m tired of screaming;

(Oh-ma-ma-ma, oh-ma-ma-ma);

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-deity 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 colour’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.