The word spéculoos comes from species, Latin for spices. These thin crunchy biscuits were first made in Belgium in the 17th century when the Low Countries were occupied by Spain. Initially they were a Christmas treat made with the expensive cinnamon, cardamon and cloves imported to Europe.
Spéculoos are often the little biscuits you get with a cup of coffee (as they don’t fall apart when you dunk them). Similar ones made by LU in France are called biscuits Bastogne.
They are said to be the descendants of the honey biscuits, cut into the shape of a god or goddess that children were given on the first of January, when the Romans celebrated Strenna, goddess of health.
Image by Zerohund