How Did Biscoff Cookies Become An Iconic Airplane Snack?

Since air travel isn't always smooth sailing, we rely on tiny pleasures to bring us comfort throughout the process. A good book helps. A bit of lotion can do wonders to combat the effects that dry airplane air can have on our skin. But when we're feeling peckish at 31,000 feet, nothing brings us back to Earth better than a hot cup of joe and a Biscoff cookie. 

While inflight snacking and Biscoff go together so well that you'd think they were made for one another, Lotus Biscoff cookies were actually the 1932 invention of Belgian baker Jan Boone Senior. With its spiced, caramelly taste and crunchy texture, this all-natural shortbread cookie was originally designed as the perfect complement to coffee. (Although, Biscoff cookies are also great for adding crunch to desserts like cheesecakes).

Belgian children knew Biscoff cookies as a sweet called "speculoos," traditionally eaten around St. Nicholas Day. But like most Americans at the time, U.S.-based food broker Michael McGuire had no prior knowledge of the popular European cookies when he first tried them. After stumbling across them during his travels, in 1986, he introduced them to Delta — which became the first airline to offer Biscoff cookies as part of its in-flight service.

Long live Biscoff cookies!

Delta and Biscoff cookies seemed to be a match made in heaven. They were easy to eat, easy to clean up, and — with their senses a bit duller from the altitude — fliers appreciated the super sweet and toothsome bite. So, Delta decided to make their partnership official. At the tail end of the '90s, Delta had Biscoff cookies branded with the airline's name.

"[They've become] iconic and are one of our most popular snacks onboard," Mike Henny, managing director of onboard services for Delta Airlines told Travel + Leisure, adding, "We serve between 80 to 85 million Biscoff cookies a year, and we have lots of Delta fliers who are enthusiastic fans." Several other airlines, including giants like United and American Airlines, followed Delta's lead and started offering Biscoff cookies to their customers, though none but Delta got officially-branded cookies.

Now, Biscoff cookies are widely available in the U.S., but that doesn't mean the hype surrounding them has diminished. In 2022, for instance, fans of the cookie were running to Costco for Biscoff cream sandwich cookies, which had just become available in bulk. In recent years, several airlines have threatened to phase out the beloved cookies, but this hasn't come without backlash. If that ever happens, don't worry; we've got the perfect copycat Biscoff speculoos cookie recipe, so no one can ever take them away from you!