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Trader Joe's Speculoos cookie butter shortage plagues nation

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Trader Joe's, Alabama Theater, cookie butter
Jars of Speculoos cookie butter stacked on Trader Joe's shelves. Photo by Joel Luks
Trader Joe's crunchy cookie butter
Crunchy version of Speculoos cookie butter. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Trader Joe's, Alabama Theater, cookie butter
Trader Joe's crunchy cookie butter

In a disappearance whose urgency ranks right up there with Waldo and the Lindbergh baby, the nation is currently facing a shortage of Speculoos, the addictive, spicy cookie butter sold by Trader Joe's.

Speculoos have been out of stock at Trader Joe's across the country for more than a month, and there's no immediate sign of relief, according to an employee at the Trader Joe's in Plano.

"We've been out for a while, and we're not supposed to get any until mid-May," he said. A staffer at a store in California confirmed the drought, saying that Trader Joe's in-house ordering system showed that the product was out of stock.

 Where to dip one's salty pretzel? How now to embellish an ordinary oatmeal cookie?

 Trader Joe's opened in Texas with what seemed like an infinite supply of the magical gingerbread-flavored spread, with whole end-caps boasting majestic mountains of meticulously arranged jars containing the tawny, craveable confit.

Cookie butter's popularity was non pareil; it rocketed to the top of Trader Joe's annual "most popular products" list in 2012. Things were so good on the Speculoos scene that by 2013, Trader Joe's expanded the line and released a crunchy version of the smearable ambrosia. When it came to cookie butter, we felt like we were set for life.

The unconscionable thing is that this isn't the first time Trader Joe's has run out of cookie butter. An employee at a store in Los Angeles recalled that the chain endured a similar Speculoos depletion in 2010.

"After they first introduced it, there was a shortage and it was gone for a long time," she said. "Then they made a huge batch; it's made in Belgium, I think."

Adding insult to injury is the mysterious way the story changes from store to store. A staffer at the Fort Worth store claimed that no Trader Joe's could requisition the captivating goo, that all stores placed their orders through the same system, and that she could see on the computer with her very own eyes that none was available.

But stores in California and on the East Coast divulged that they were receiving limited allotments of the spreadable sweetness daily. A store outside Boston exulted in the fact that it was receiving a case every other day. A store in southern California gloated that it had received four cases – "but just the smooth, not the crunchy," said the Trader Joe's staffer gleefully.

A pox on you, southern California Trader Joe's!

Staffers had no advice for how customers should handle the cookie butter famine. What else to spread on a seeded rye cracker? Where to dip one's salty pretzel? How now to embellish an ordinary oatmeal cookie?

Admittedly, an enterprising consumer could simply revert to the old-school (and ahem more nutritionally sound) peanut butter, or buy Speculoos' doppelganger Biscoff spread at Sprouts, or opt for an indulgent dab of gianduia. But that's missing the point. Peanut butter, Biscoff, Nutella — those items are readily available. This is something we cannot get.

Also, there really is something special and uniquely spicy about Trader Joe's particular cookie butter recipe. The company buys its products from other companies and relabels them. Some have speculated that the Speculoos is made by a Danish company called Markant. But that is unavailable in the United States.

Ooooh, sounds tasty.

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