Stroopwafels Have Become My Obsession
I want to officially thank the people of The Netherlands for one of their greatest contributions to human civilization: the Stroopwafel. How I managed to go 36 years of life without ever experiencing the joy that is this amazing combination of toasted waffle, caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla is beyond me. My Stroopwafel obsession has gotten to the point that Aaron laughs at me because I just can’t help myself. It’s so bad that because I try to limit my daily consumption of sugar, I actually look forward to going to bed just knowing that I can get up and have another Stroopwafel. This is out of control.
First, let me back up a bit …
It Started with the McDonald’s Stroopwafel McFlurry as Part of Market Research
Aaron and I, personally, have a long-term block of McDonald’s Corporation common stock in our family portfolio; shares we bought many years ago before we established our fiduciary global asset management firm because we felt they were cheap at the time. While we have sold some off over the years to fund other investments, the appreciation has meant that the absolute dollar value of the shares continued to rise, offsetting some of those divestments. In fact, the company has treated us extraordinarily well over time. As of the close of the stock market yesterday, shares have hit a near-all-time high of $205.48 each with a current dividend yield of 2.26% per annum. While I can’t predict the future, and always reserve the right to change my mind, I can say with a good probability of certainty that if we woke up to an equity market crash like 2007-2009 or 1973-1974, and it lasted for awhile, we’re probably going to be acquiring more ownership.
As a result, and in the hope that we can someday buy a meaningful amount for the private clients of our firm if and when conditions warrant, we pay attention to McDonald’s. A few times a year, we’ll make a point to print off a stack of documents and go sit inside one of the 37,971 restaurants, working our way through the numbers for several hours as we drink Coca-Cola and eat cheeseburgers and fries. It’s a wonderful feeling to hear the beeping of the kitchen and watch people order everything from apple pies to chicken nuggets. I also like that not all of the profits go to Wall Street but, rather, enrich many people along the value chain. In almost every suburb and city in America, you’re likely to find that the wealthiest families include the local McDonald’s franchisees. In fact, it remains true today that if a person is a decent operator, and can get his or her hands on three McDonald’s franchises, it is almost impossible for his or her household to not be a member of the top 1%. In addition, there are many, many successful families who accumulated their wealth by providing everything from coffee to potatoes to the Chicago-based company.
Recently, McDonald’s announced that they were bringing some of the best selling items from their international stores to the United States for a limited time. (If you showed up between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time on Thursday, June 6th, you could even get any of the items in exchange for swapping foreign currency of any kind, making it an incredible bargain if you happened to have a 1 cent Euro coin or a 5 cent Canadian coin sitting around somewhere.) These special items were part of what they were calling their “Worldwide Favorites Menu” and included:
- A tomato mozzarella chicken sandwich with tomato and herb sauce from McDonald’s Canada.
- Cheesy bacon fries from McDonald’s Australia.
- The Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger with Gouda cheese and onion from McDonald’s España.
- The Stroopwafel McFlurry with vanilla soft serve ice cream, caramel swirl, and Dutch Daelmans Stroopwafel caramel waffle cookie pieces from McDonald’s Nederland.
Anyway, Aaron knew what Stroopwafels were. I did not. I don’t recall ever encountering them. The nutritional information on the Stroopwafel McFlurry wasn’t great but it was manageable to fit into my daily macros at only 650 calories. The real problem was the fact it had 78 grams of sugar but given that it was not a regular thing, and I was going to combine it with a large black coffee, I figured it would be worth the $3.39 to try it. If I didn’t like it – I’ve never been a fan of McFlurrys and don’t think I’ve ordered one for 15+ years, maybe? – I could throw it away and chalk it up to market research.
I was not prepared for whatever confectionary magic the Dutch people invoked when they created this thing. I accept that you invented the microscope. I celebrate that you invented the telescope. You changed the world with the invention of the roll-up fire hose. You laid the foundation for the modern world with the creation initial basis of WiFi as well as Bluetooth. Let’s not forget – and particularly relevant to my own life and career – you literally created the stock market in 1602 as a way for an enterprise to raise capital and diffuse risk among various outside passive minority shareholders, thus laying the foundation for the broad expansion of capitalism that led the greatest increase in human standards of living at any point in recorded history and you were the first nation in the world to introduce marriage equality so that all of your citizens could form families and have the full protection of the law, ending discrimination based upon sexual orientation. All of that I can handle. But this … this is a bridge too far. The Stroopwafel is not a food. It is a biochemical dependence addiction device you’ve created and disguised as a modest treat.
Finding Daelmans Stroopwafels in Southern California
I wanted to get to the actual Stroopwafel without all of the ice cream and added caramel so Aaron and I found a local store that carries them: a Target in Irvine in aisle G34 for $3.49 per box of eight. One evening, at about 7:45 p.m., we went and stocked up on enough boxes to last us a couple of months.
Here is how it works … you’re supposed to place the Stroopwafel on top of a cup of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or other steaming beverage for approximately one minute to let the heat melt the interior syrup, causing it to ooze gooey goodness when you bite into it. So we give it a try. Only, it’s late so instead of making coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, we opt to boil water instead. It will get the job done.
It did. Here was the inside …
Aaron and I both ended up eating two. He likes them, and thinks they are okay but probably wouldn’t go out of his way for one. I, on the other hand … these light up my neurochemistry in all kinds of insane ways. Now, I find out there are different kinds of Stroopwafels?! Honey Stroopwafels? Chocolate Stroopwafels! Jumbo Stroopwafels!?! Stroopwafels that have been augmented with candy!??! BANANA AND PECAN STROOPWAFELS!?!!!? Surely someone somewhere has made a cinnamon sugar Stroopwafel.
It’s 11:58 p.m., I’m supposed to be in bed, and all I want to do is get on a plane and fly to Amsterdam to try these freshly made from actual street vendors and other establishments. I don’t have time for that. Look at this place, called van Wonderen Stroopwafels. Augh …. I want to try all of the Stroopwafels.
Aaron’s been researching Stroopwafel recipes for us because we have a waffle cone maker my mom got us for Christmas one year.
I love life. A few days ago, I didn’t even know these things existed yet apparently they’re huge. The whole world has been enjoying them. How many other amazing things have just not crossed my radar? How many other books, video games, foods, and songs have I not encountered? There just isn’t enough time. Aren’t you glad to be alive? Doesn’t this stuff just make you want to scream with excitement?
I LOVE STROOPWAFELS!
… now I’m binge-watching Stroopwafel videos on YouTube.