The in-flight snack so popular it has its own emoji

Biscoff cookies are a cult snack among frequent fliers.
CNN  — 

Biting into a complimentary Biscoff cookie on a flight may do little to sweeten the bitter experience of commercial air travel, but there’s so much more to these little biscuits than their white-and-red wrappers reveal.

These flat, crispy cookies that melt in your mouth hail from Belgium, where they’re called Speculoos and figure in Belgian culture from the 17th century as a sweet treat originally given to children for Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas Day, on December 6.

Aside from their heritage, in the US the cookies are now best associated with Delta Air Lines.

The carrier was the first to bring the snacks on board planes in 1986, which makes it now more than 30 years that travelers have begun or ended trips with its distinctive, sweet cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg taste.

For Aileen Nguyen, a traveler now based in Kuala Lumpur but who grew up nibbling on the biscuits while flying out of Delta’s Detroit hub, the nostalgia is as appealing as the flavor.

“A trip doesn’t truly start until I’ve bitten into a Biscoff,” Nguyen tells CNN.

Many diehards think Biscoff pairs best with coffee.

Today, Delta have upgraded their Biscoffs to a larger size than sold in stores, which will hopefully stave off hunger pains until it’s either time to eat or time to land.

Anyone celebrating a birthday on board may find themselves with Biscoff to spare, as Delta cabin crews have been known to fashion crowns out of the cookies.

For the truly Biscoff-addicted, buying the cookies (or the cookbook!) over the Internet even helps save towards more travel; every dollar spent at the online store earns a frequent flier mile with Delta.

The legend status of the cookie was finally cemented late last year, when Delta developed a special Biscoff emoji as part of a downloadable “sticker pack” for iMessage on Apple iPhones.

Biscoff’s popularity has outgrown Delta, and now the cookie is also found on WestJet, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Sunwing flights.

Passengers love them best with coffee or tea, but there’s a rumor that they’re also pretty good dunked in Chardonnay.

Speaking to CNN, Idil Kozanoglu, US marketing manager for Lotus Bakeries, Biscoff’s parent company, credits the cookie’s ingredients for its broad appeal: “Lotus Biscoff cookies are made with Non-GMO ingredients, do not contain any artificial flavors or colors, and are vegan and nut-free, making them an ideal choice for a wide group of consumers that might have dietary restrictions or allergies.”

Bianca Molina, a Connecticut-based nutrition consultant, is one flier who benefits from Biscoff’s diet-consciousness, and she shared her enthusiasm with CNN, saying: “I was so sad when I thought I could no longer have them after going vegan, but then I saw the guy sitting next to me with them and I spotted the “V” [vegan] symbol! Now I always ask the [flight attendants] for extra. They have no idea how much it means to me.”

Even the fact they’ll be consumed at altitude is a consideration for the bakery, says Kozanoglu: “Our production and packaging team’s high standards ensure that every Biscoff cookie always tastes fresh and has the perfect crispiness even at 30,000 feet!”

Some diehard Biscoff fans just can’t wait for their next flight.

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On a recent trip to the City by the Bay, traveler Kristin McSeese made a special point of visiting the only dedicated Biscoff store in the US: “I was SUPER excited when I went to San Francisco and I found out that they have a Biscoff store in Fisherman’s Wharf! I went and got a package of the cookies.”

While eating through an entire sleeve on a flight may be challenge, large packages for use in recipes can be found at grocery stores like Costco, Publix and Kroger.

Biscoff’s website even reserves a special section for the elaborate creations dreamt up by fans, like Speculoos Tiramisu, Hamantaschen with Biscoff filling, and Biscoff-crusted chicken and waffles.

Luckily Biscoff’s more than thirty years as an airline treat means both flight attendants and passengers have had plenty of time to develop small “hacks” for improving in-flight enjoyment.

Here are three of the most popular to try on your next flight.

Biscoff Hacks

“Key Lime” Biscoff

During the beverage service, ask the flight attendant for a lime slice or two. Squeeze the slice over top of a Biscoff cookie and eat right away, before it has time to get soggy. The zesty combination of Biscoff and fresh lime juice mimics the flavor of key lime pie.

Biscoff Sundae

Save the Biscoff for meal time on international flights, when your tray is likely to include a small dessert like a square of cheesecake or a tiny pot of ice cream. Squeeze the Biscoff package and crumble the biscuit over top and, voila, instant dessert upgrade.

Nutella Banana Biscoff Delight

You’ll have to plan ahead a little for this snack, but the result is worth the preparation. Head to your grocery store or Target and buy a small box of individual (we say travel-size) dunk cups of Nutella.

Pack two or three in your carry-on, and buy a banana at the airport before you board your flight.

Once onboard and cruising at 36,000 feet, spread the Nutella on the Biscoff biscuits and top with banana slices.

Click through the gallery below to see InflightFeed blogger Nik Loukas’ pick of the world’s best airline meals: