In this months edition of the food magazine Bon Appetite writer Elyssa Goldberg takes a look at Speculoos, the cookie butter that has risen from obscurity to become the number private brand sku at Trader Joe’s. It is proof that retailers can leverage discovery as a powerful tool for differentiation and innovation. Venture out into the world, find amazing flavors and tastes and bring them back to your customers.
The Rise of Cookie Butter: How Speculoos Spread Hit It Big in the U.S.
Cookie butter is a decadent treat that’s gained a cult following in the United States over the last few years. It’s typically made from pulverized spice cookies, a fat (usually vegetable oil, sometimes condensed milk), flour, and a whole lot of sugar until it’s spreadable like nut butter. But before we ever snagged a jar off grocery shelves in the U.S., it was better known as speculoos spread and made from traditional European holiday cookies. So, how did cookie butter emerge from relative obscurity and become something we eat by the spoonful nightly on our couches?
Cozying Up With Cookies for European Holidays
Spice cookies, called speculoos in Belgium (and pronounced “speck-you-lows”), are a winter staple across Europe. From France and Northern Europe to Germany, Belgium, and stretching out to Poland in the East, everyone has a variation on a recipe that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and lots of butter. They’re a sign of the holiday season—some call them St. Nicholas cookies—and they’re basically edible versions of the warm, fuzzy feelings we get when curl up near a fire in sub-zero weather.
But they’re not always relegated to the holidays. Sit down at any café in Belgium, and the cookie served along with your coffee will probably be a speculoos cookie, or some other spice cookie that tastes just like it.
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