How the Stroopwafel Became the Most Unexpected Product to Go Viral

Why everyone — from NBA players to tech employees — is suddenly eating this classic Dutch cookie

Cara Cannella
Marker
Published in
5 min readJan 16, 2020

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Photo: Ľuboš Míček/Getty Images

TThey’re on airplanes, on NBA courts, in coffee shops, and in tech startup kitchenettes. Say hallo to the stroopwafel, a caramel-filled wafer cookie that’s long been a staple of the Netherlands. (Its name is Dutch for syrup waffle.) So how did a Dutch treat that dates back to the 1700s suddenly become one of the hottest snack foods in the U.S.?

While stroopwafels are most directly associated with the Netherlands, Brooklyn played a major role in the snack’s growth trajectory over the past decade. It started with The Good Batch, founded by Anna Gordon in 2010. Gordon began selling her hand-pressed stroopwafels at the Brooklyn Flea after moving to New York. Her then-boyfriend (now husband) Steve Hartong has Dutch roots and missed the cookie. In 2014, they opened a brick-and-mortar bakery in Brooklyn.

Around that time, Rip Pruisken founded Brooklyn-based company Rip Van Wafels. Pruisken had grown up eating stroopwafels in the Netherlands and started the business with his college friend Marco De Leon while the two were Brown University undergraduates in 2011. Very early, Pruisken got the idea to sell to snack-crazed tech companies. While crashing on the couch of his brother, who was then enrolled at Stanford, Pruisken visited more than 90 tech companies in the Bay Area. Uber, Yelp, Twitter, Square, Google, and Facebook all became Rip Van Wafel customers.

That buzz helped him get his snacks into Starbucks. “There are a lot of Starbucks fans in these companies, so becoming Silicon Valley’s favorite snack helped us get placed in 10,000 stores, exposing 67 million people to our stroopwafels. That was a major tipping point,” he says. A product cameo on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” also helped.

Meanwhile, European natives Greg Galel and Joel Davidovici, cofounders of Belgian Boys, had begun selling stroopwafels and other Europe-inspired snacks from their Brooklyn headquarters. Founded in 2014, Belgian Boys has doubled the business year-over-year, with its snacks now at 1,000 Kroger stores and select Target, Costco, and Whole Foods locations.

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Cara Cannella
Marker
Writer for

Connecting people & ideas. Brooklyn-based Editorial Consultant, Tutor, Writer, Editor.