LOS ANGELES — The stroopwafel, a popular Dutch cookie, has gained traction stateside in recent years following launches by several specialty brands. Los Angeles-based startup Sweet Amsterdam is debuting a healthier take on the chewy, gooey treat.
Featuring a layer of caramel or honey sandwiched between two thin wafers, stroopwafels traditionally are paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea and lately have been positioned by sports nutrition brands as a pre-workout snack. Sweet Amsterdam offers a range of stroopwafels that are gluten-free, dairy-free, organic and lower in sugar than conventional varieties. The products are formulated with rice and chickpea flour and sweetened with a combination of cane sugar and monk fruit extract.
“It’s our mission to become the No. 1 feel-good snack brand,” said Farhad Faqiri, founder of Sweet Amsterdam. “We have combined thoughtfully formulated better-for-you recipes with inspiring messaging and artistic designs.”
Stroopwafels were a sweet snacking staple of Mr. Faqiri’s childhood in The Netherlands. As he traveled around the world, he discovered a commonality among consumers.
“We snack when we’re sad, stressed, busy or bored,” he said. “When I moved to America, I found the main reason we do this is very simple. We hope it makes us feel better. In America, however, I found that a lot of big food brands have been offering us snacking options that are very traditional, where you have to compromise either on flavor or on better-for-you ingredients.
“I call it snacking with sacrifices, where you get that temporary kick without the long-lasting sense of satisfaction or joy.”
Earlier iterations of Sweet Amsterdam’s stroopwafel had 13 grams of sugar, then 9 grams of sugar. The latest formulation, which debuted in February, has 5 grams of sugar.
“Our goal for the future is to have zero grams of sugar,” Mr. Faqiri said. “We actually have a lower sugar amount per serving than many self-proclaimed healthy snacks.”
In addition to a classic cinnamon caramel variety, the brand offers unexpected flavors such as chocolate banana and lemon bar. A fourth option, Speculaas Spice, is a European-inspired flavor that may be likened to a gingersnap, Mr. Faqiri said.
“To us it’s very traditional, but we hope it becomes as big of a hit for American audiences as well,” he said.
Prior to launching the brand, Mr. Faqiri operated a food truck of the same name, serving Dutch desserts in the greater Los Angeles area for several years and collecting insights on product development. The chocolate banana stroopwafel was inspired by a best-selling menu item.
Supply chain challenges last year due to the pandemic led to new opportunities. The team shifted production from Holland to a facility in Canada and initiated rebranding and reformulation efforts. The company tested 10 flavors prior to narrowing the assortment to four.
“We want to keep improving on the recipe,” Mr. Faqiri said. “We are experimenting with having some vegan options. Right now the products are dairy-free … but they do have eggs.”
The cookies are available online at Amazon.com and sweetamsterdam.com.
“We’re currently focused on direct-to-consumer because it is a product that’s quite new, so we want to have control over educating people on not only the product itself but also on the mission,” Mr. Faqiri said. “We do get requests all the time from retailers small and large, but we feel like we need another 6 to 10 months to figure what the best partner for us is and where our audience will shop the most. It’s definitely something we’re working on.”