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We sampled a dozen flavors of stroopwafels to find the yummiest, most-likely-to-wind-up-in-a-jersey-pocket confections. (We know, we have it rough.)
Stroopwafels, or “syrup waffles” in Dutch, have a long history in European bike racing. They’ve been around since the beginning of the 19th century, reportedly originating in the Dutch town of Gouda (yes, like the cheese). The traditional recipe calls for two cookie halves made from leftover dough and crumbs with a layer of syrup in between. The best way to enjoy them, any refined cyclist will tell you, is to let them sit on top of a steaming cup of coffee while the middle gets a little gooey. But they’re also fab for on-the-go fuel.
“As racers, it was a treat to skip the traditional energy bar and reach for a stroopwafel because it has so much of what your body needs to fuel a hard ride,” says former professional cyclist Ted King, whose sports fuel company UnTapped makes maple syrup-filled stroopwafels. “Plus there’s some intangible, motivational boost by eating something delicious.”
UnTapped is one of half a dozen companies now selling stroopwafels in the U.S. Steamboat Springs, Colo.-based Honey Stinger started making the sweets in 2010 at the urging of company co-owner Lance Armstrong, substituting organic honey for syrup and individually wrapping them so they slide easily into a jersey pocket. And Rip Pruisken, who grew up in Amsterdam, started making them in his dorm room at Brown University in 2009 before founding San Francisco-based Rip Van Wafels and debuting his creations in Starbucks around the U.S. last year.
Endurance athletes are now obsessing over the neat treats. King thinks it has something to do with our growing awareness and appreciation for recognizable ingredients and real foods as fuel. Made with whole foods such as wheat flour, maple syrup and cane sugar, stroopwafels bridge “that gap between real foods and sports nutrition.”
Taste test notes from our four favorite flavors