Atlanta family business offers a taste of the Netherlands

3Bros Cookies' stroopwafels come unadorned, or dipped in white chocolate, milk chocolate or ruby chocolate. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies
Caption
3Bros Cookies' stroopwafels come unadorned, or dipped in white chocolate, milk chocolate or ruby chocolate. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Guido Vliegen grew up in the Netherlands, nibbling on stroopwafels, a traditional Dutch treat consisting of thin rounds of waffle-like cookies sandwiched with a caramel filling. Less than quarter-inch thick, the cookies are not overwhelmingly sweet, but are rich enough to feel like an indulgence. They get their name from “stroop,” which is Dutch for “syrup,” and their waffle-like pattern.

Vliegen said his mother regularly purchased stroopwafels, and the family went through them quickly.

After moving to the U.S., Vliegen was dissatisfied with the imported stroopwafels he sampled, so he and his Georgia-born wife, Leslie, decided to make their own.

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Leslie and Guido Vliegen founded 3Bros Cookies in 2019. They named the company in honor of their three sons. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

Leslie and Guido Vliegen founded 3Bros Cookies in 2019. They named the company in honor of their three sons. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies
Caption
Leslie and Guido Vliegen founded 3Bros Cookies in 2019. They named the company in honor of their three sons. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

In 2017, Vliegen brought a stroopwafel iron home from the Netherlands. The couple perfected their recipe, and began selling stroopwafels at the Peachtree Night Market. “It was just a hobby,” he said, “but we sold out so quickly that we had to work longer days to make enough cookies for the next market — and the next.”

The Vliegens decided in 2019 to turn their hobby into a business, and built a commercial bakery in Fayetteville, where a team of six part-time employees turns out hundreds of stroopwafels at a time.

They named the business 3Bros Cookies, in recognition of their three sons, who have helped at markets and worked in the bakery.

Vliegen explained the process of making the cookies: “Working at each stroopwafel iron, we add the dough and close the iron for just a minute. The waffles are removed from the iron and immediately cut into perfect rounds, using a cookie cutter, then sliced open, filled with the stroop, and sandwiched back together. We don’t let anything go to waste, so the trimmings from cutting the cookies into those perfect rounds are turned into what we call ‘snippers.’ They’re the cookies, but without any syrup, and they’re great for anything where you’d use graham crackers or granola, or just as an ice cream topping.”

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The Vliegens travel to farmers markets and events with a bright orange, wheeled cart fitted with a stroopwafel iron and syrup dispenser. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

The Vliegens travel to farmers markets and events with a bright orange, wheeled cart fitted with a stroopwafel iron and syrup dispenser. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies
Caption
The Vliegens travel to farmers markets and events with a bright orange, wheeled cart fitted with a stroopwafel iron and syrup dispenser. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The Vliegens continue to sell at farmers markets and festivals, and they draw people in with their bright orange, wheeled cart, fitted with a stroopwafel iron and syrup dispenser. They can make stroopwafels on the spot, in sizes ranging from 3 inches to an 8-inch stroopwafel they call Texas-size.

In season, the Vliegens take the cart to the Alpharetta, Grant Park, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Peachtree City and Senoia farmers markets. “At the markets, we get lots of families with children who come just for the stroopwafels,” he said.

They also take the cart to events and weddings. Vliegen said it is a way of bringing the Dutch experience to American customers. “If you go to the market in any Dutch town, you’re likely to find someone making stroopwafels. These are definitely a treat you buy from a stroopwafel maker. Very few people would make them at home.”

Caption
The traditional way to enjoy a stroopwafel is to set it on top of a mug of coffee, tea or hot chocolate just long enough for the caramel to warm and release its flavor. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

The traditional way to enjoy a stroopwafel is to set it on top of a mug of coffee, tea or hot chocolate just long enough for the caramel to warm and release its flavor. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies
Caption
The traditional way to enjoy a stroopwafel is to set it on top of a mug of coffee, tea or hot chocolate just long enough for the caramel to warm and release its flavor. Courtesy of 3Bros Cookies

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The traditional way to enjoy a stroopwafel is to set it on top of a mug of coffee, tea or hot chocolate just long enough for the caramel to warm and release its flavor, and 3Bros’ stroopwafels are a big seller at local coffee shops.

Many customers are familiar with stroopwafels from travels to the Netherlands, he said, but others need a little education in how the cookies originated in the town of Gouda, and how they got their name.

Stroopwafels are more than a sweet treat, Vliegen said. “Holland is a land of cyclists, and many carry stroopwafels with them for a quick burst of energy. They’re very popular with people who enjoy endurance sports, like runners. Put a couple in your pack and, when you run out of energy, you can quickly recharge.”

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