Speculating About Speculaas - The History Of Biscoff

When it comes to trending flavours the internet changes its fancies faster than a rambunctious toddler at a sweet store. But one old-world staple that has seen a resurgence and seems to be here to stay is good ol’ Lotus Biscoff.

The Lotus company in Belgium started manufacturing the crumbly ‘speculoos’ biscuit in 1932 and became popular throughout Western Europe. In the 1980s they saw another leap in popularity when they were served by American airlines to weary travellers in need of a sugar kick and caused a huge uproar when that partnership was dissolved. This flooding of the American market in the 1990s caused founder Jan Boone Sr. to rebrand the product ‘Biscoff’ - a portmanteau of ‘biscuit’ and ‘coffee’ - which he believed was easier to pronounce.

Though Biscoff gained success and became an international name, its origins were still hotly contested. An alternative identity of the cookie is thought to be the Dutch ‘speculaas’ biscuit, a Christmas staple dating back to the 1600s that features a range of spices such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and white pepper.

But since international shipping was hardly de rigeuer in those days, finding some of these rare - and therefore pretty pricy - speculaas spices used to be a challenge. That’s when the simplified version, the ‘speculoos’, was conceived (allegedly in Belgium) that relied more on the flavours of caramelised sugar and cinnamon for flavour.


This less complex recipe quickly became the more acceptable household staple that could be whipped up without breaking the bank and gained favour in Germany, Luxemburg and even back in the Netherlands. This is the version of the recipe that’s used by the Lotus Biscoff brand today.

Between countries and regions, the ratios of spices and sugar often vary, but the joy they bring is universal. As the legend goes, good Dutch children would wake on the morning of December 5th to find their shoes filled with speculoos from Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas). That tradition has translated to the modern day and no matter where you hail from, or what you want to call them, a bite of these buttery biscuits is sure to put a smile on your face.