Lotus Biscoff: The Flemish Biscuit That Keeps on Flying
People all over the world crave a Flemish speculoos biscuit based on wheat flour and candy syrup or caramelised sugar. Despite its global reach, manufacturer Lotus Bakeries is still headquartered in a small town and is still run by the same family.
© Lotus Bakeries
It all began in 1932 when Jan Boone set up Lotus Bakeries in the Flemish village of Lembeke. His plan was to bake biscuits modelled on the traditional Flemish speculoos given to children on Sint Niklaas Day, 6 December. They were originally sold by the Boone family from a distinctive red truck.
© Lotus Bakeries
By the 1950s, Boone had started selling individual Lotus biscuits in red wrappers. They became popular in cafes where they were served with coffee. Soon the little Belgian treats began appearing in train stations and hotels. Eventually, they reached cafes in France and the Netherlands.
With their unique blend of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, the little biscuits from Lembeke went on to conquer America in the 1980s. Renamed Biscoff cookies (from the words ‘biscuit’ and ‘coffee’), they were branded ‘Europe’s favourite cookie with coffee’ and served on many American national and international flights.
© Delta / Kamibrush
When Delta Airlines announced in 2020 that they were replacing Biscoff with Oreo Thins, hundreds of passengers posted angry messages online. ‘You can take my legroom, but you can never have my Biscoffs,’ wrote one angry blogger.
It seemed the little biscuits from a village in East Flanders (population 3,600) had become an iconic flight experience. As the Wall Street Journal put it, ‘The slightly spicy treats are the only thing that many travellers look forward to on their flight.’
Lotus Bakeries sells its caramelised biscuits in 65 countries. © Lotus Bakeries © Lotus Bakeries
The factory in Lembeke now produces some six billion biscuits every year, along with Lotus paste and ice cream. ‘Sixty-seven percent of Belgians have one of our products in their kitchen,’ according to Jan Boone, grandson of the company founder. And they are back on board Delta flights.