I flew Frontier earlier this week, an experience that involved much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was my first time flying with the budget airline, and I was majorly bummed to find that “budget” = no complimentary in-flight snacks or beverages. “Not even hot tea?” I asked the beleaguered flight attendant. She shook her head. “Not even hot tea.” At that point, I leaned back in my seat, closed my eyes, and whispered the lament of desperate flyers everywhere: “Damn, I wish I had a Biscoff.” That got me wondering: How did Biscoff cookies become associated with flying, anyway?
Per CNN Travel, these crispy ginger- and cinnamon-spiced cookies hail from Belgium. Also known as speculoos or speculaas cookies, they’re traditionally a Christmas goodie gifted to children on Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas Day, which is observed on December 6.
The now-global Biscoff brand, owned by parent company Lotus, began in a bakery in Lembeke, Belgium, in 1932. (Biscoff is known in Europe as Lotus Speculoos; per Condé Nast Traveler, the American Biscoff label is said to be a portmanteau between “biscuit” and “coffee.”) The New York Times reports that Lotus is still run by the same family and headquartered in the same small town. But how did Biscoff make its way from a tiny Belgian town to major American air carriers?
Delta began serving Biscoff as an in-flight treat in the mid-1980s. Per Thrillist, a U.S.-based food broker named Michael McGuire fell in love with the cookie while traveling in Europe, bringing it back stateside and presenting it to Delta shortly after. Today, Delta serves between 80 to 85 million Biscoff cookies per year, Condé Nast Traveler reports. Michael McGuire, if you’re out there, the American people owe you a massive debt of gratitude.
United and American Airlines eventually hopped on the Biscoff train, likely because of the cookie’s unparalleled shelf stability and tasty, uncomplicated appeal. Keep in mind that when I say “appeal” I mean “sugary goodness for which consumers go completely ga-ga.” Thrillist writes:
“Customers, smitten with the gingerbready treat, deluged Delta headquarters with calls in an effort to stock up on their own supply. Others mailed letters to the cookie company using just what was listed: the city and ZIP code (which, surprisingly, the post office did forward to the company).”
Hear that, Frontier? You’re missing out on a great opportunity serve a legacy snack. I’ll pay whatever you want for a little paper cup of hot tea. Just give me the Biscoff.