If you're on the Trader Joe's bandwagon, it's likely you've heard rumblings about the store's Speculoos Cookie Butter -- if you're not already addicted to the stuff. This crushed-up-cookie spread has created a sugar-induced hysteria that's caused nationwide shortages and a gangbusters black-market business.
Seriously, this is how stampedes happen.
The Pinecrest outpost is no exception. It's basically been sold out of the sweet treat since Miamians went bananas for it on opening day.
See also: Trader Joe's: Top Ten Vegetarian Finds
On a visit to the store this past Sunday, the cookie butter was back in stock, but I'm pretty sure it won't be for long. Patrons were finding creative (AKA sketchy and obnoxious) ways to skirt the five-per-person limit and buy as many jars as possible -- most likely to sell on Amazon.
But for all those cookie-crazed consumers out there, I'm here to offer a blinding revelation. Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter is an almost identical copy of Lotus Biscoff Spread. Never heard of it? Well, Biscoff was around first (in Belgium, anyway). And Biscoff is better. (Yes, I said it!)
Biscoff cookies, for those who are unfamiliar, are those delicious biscuits that Delta used to dole out as in-flight snacks. They're actually a version of speculoos cookies -- a traditional spiced European biscuit that dates back to the 1800s. The Biscoff brand has been around since 1932 but wasn't sold in U.S. stores until 2006. Then, in 2007, a woman invented a spread made from speculoos cookies on a Belgian TV show, and soon after, the product caused a European sensation.
Understandably so. It's edible magic. It's the Garden of Eden in a jar. It's the Romeo to your tastebuds' Juliet. (Hyperbole is applicable here.) And though there were a few European companies making such a spread, Biscoff was the one that introduced it to the United States.
It's true that Biscoff's and TJ's versions are not identical. TJ's spread, which topped the store's 2012 list of most popular products, has a slightly granular texture and more of a gingerbread flavor, while the Biscoff spread has a sweeter, richer taste.
The major difference between the two is that the TJ's version might cost you a finger or a fistfight. Biscoff spread, however, will cost you nothing more than the sticker price. And it's on the shelves at most major grocery stores right along with the peanut butter and Nutella.
Ironically, the TJ's version list price is $3.69 -- but it's selling online for three times that amount. Biscoff spread retails for $3.78 (though it's marked up at the more expensive grocers), and you can find it easily at Walmart.
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Don't get me wrong -- I love me all things TJ's. But save yourself the trouble of the cookie-butter apocalypse and stick to Biscoff spread instead.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.