Saturday, 13 October 2012

Wafers Spiced and all things nice: The tale of a controversial autumn cookie

As a recent expat sometimes it's for me hard to know what is really a 'thing' - a custom, tradition, cultural trend - or what is just my American family's own way of life.

Pumpkin Spice is definitely a 'thing'. And by now maybe you think I'm obsessed with it. I am, but only because at this time of year America is obsessed with it too. The other day a local radio station proudly announced that it was "Officially Pumpkin Flavored".

US TV cook and potential-maybe-future-first-lady Sandra Lee introduced me to all sorts of bizarre pumpkin spice concoctions, including pumpkin spice cocktails and pumpkin spice jello shots. The varieties of ways this country can push a simple spice blend is pretty impressive. I don't think half of these products have even seen an actual pumpkin.

This brings me to 'spiced wafers'. Recently we had to drive across the county to one specific store that sold a specific brand of these things. Apparently this was necessary to get the true taste of October. I was told no local supermarket sells the 'right kind' of spiced wafer.

The 'right kind' I'm talking about is Ivin's Spiced Wafers, which are not at all a wafer. They look deceptively like ginger snap cookies, but instead they have that clovey pumpkin spice taste I currently can't escape. And yes, they're good.

Drinking an Ivins wafer with a pumpkin beer - makes the beer taste sweeter

You can only get them in Acme supermarkets within the greater Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania, during the months of Fall.  On a side note, Acme supermarkets only exist in Northeast USA. They should not be confused with the fictional Acme Corporation from Looney Tunes, although I like to pretend that I could pick up my seasonal spiced wafers and a large anvil in just one shopping trip.

So these little cookies are almost exclusively a Pennsylvanian October thing. And a tasty Pennsylvanian October thing at that, especially when washed down with a refreshing pumpkin or Octoberfest beer (more on those later). But would it were that simple…

There's another local spiced wafer rival, Sweetzels, made in the little local Christmas town of Skippack, PA. And the brand you prefer could reflect greatly on your character. There is more than one Sweetzel v Ivins Throwdown available online, comparing the spice and crunch of each respective biscuit.

Moreover, there's a small level of outrage to be found online that Ivins may not be made as locally as Sweetzels, and may actually be shipped over each Autumn from (shock!) Minnesota. Acme, a Pennsylvania chain, is owned by SuperValu, a Minnesota chain. It gets complicated.

There's also another online conspiracy that Ivin's cookies are actually made by (shock!) Sweetzels. Some consumers find their packaging, and the shape and size of the biscuits themselves, to be too strikingly similar to have possibly been produced by two different companies.

If there's one thing I love, it's baked goods mired in controversy -from the Magnolia cupcake lawsuit to the Jaffa Cake cookie tax court case. I'm very tempted to try to get to the bottom of these spiced wafer conspiracies, but I'm also concerned that would spoil the intrigue surrounding this seasonal bake. What do you think? Should I go on a mission to uncover the mystery or leave this spicy tale be?

P.S Sorry for the delay in this post. Here's an unrelated piece of advice: Don't eat hotdogs that are a month out of date/expired. You will get food poisoning.

blogtoberfest? Remember, it's the Glad Blog Octoberfest all this month, so please send me your own Fall themed posts - I'd love to feature my favorites. Bonus points if you feature pumpkin related activities or products, local Fall Fests, or fun traditions I haven't heard of.


  1. I am NOT on the pumpkin spiced bandwagon... but I just bought six different kind of October/pumpkin ales, so we could probably still be friends :)

    (I spit out a mouthful of one of them laughing at your Looney Tunes reference!)

    1. Oooh let me know which ones you got! We tried Pumking last night which has a very strong pumpkin/nutmeg flavor. Nice in small doses but VERY flavorful.

  2. I am a huge fan of spiced wafers cookies. It is simply not fall without them.

    1. I'm a convert now too - which is your favorite brand though?

  3. I love pumpkin. And I just watched that Sandra Lee special the other day. Aside from how crazy she was (haha!) I can't wait to make the jello pumpkin spice shots. :)

    1. It was the first time I'd seen her on TV, it was interesting! Please let me know when you do make the pumpkin spice shots, I want to hear how they turn out ;)

  4. eToro is the best forex broker for new and pro traders.