Filipinos Taste Good After an Hour in the Fridge…


I still don’t know whether to be offended or bemused. Cruising the grocery aisles at the neighborhood “Champion” in Barcelona, my wife ran across these cookies packaged in colorful tin wrapper called “Filipinos.” We decided to buy a pack to see what it was all about (and to make sure we had something to photograph for this blog). Actually, this is not the first time I have heard of these cookies and their somewhat unusual name. I read about these in a newspaper column or blog many months back and I couldn’t even remember what the comments/conclusions were. A quick search on the internet finds a serious petition to get the company to drop the use of the name. And apparently, President Estrada’s administration filed a diplomatic protest of sorts after this was noticed by folks including Nora Daza just before the millenium. And Ivan the Streetwalker has already written about these as well (as have several other food bloggers including English Patis apparently). There is also an intelligent discussion about it here. Needless to say, this does still make one wonder if naming a chocolate covered biscuit “Filipinos” is amusing, inappropriate, offensive or simply unfortunate. Considering the size and resources of most international food companies these days, I doubt that NO ONE figured out these were named after a nationality of people; a nation that Spaniards “discovered” nearly 500 years ago. And if they just conveniently forgot, wouldn’t some sense of propriety eventually get them to realize their situation and correct it by re-branding the cookies?

So let’s assume it was intentional. They wanted to name it after us. Now, the next issue is why? Does the shape, flavor or taste of the confection have anything to do with it? First let me describe what it is – essentially a sweet crisp cookie (less eggy than a rosquillo) that is dipped in dark chocolate. afil2Since we only had this version (dark chocolate) at first, I tried to read into it that we Filipinos had a nice dark tanned skin. We were smooth and sweet enough yet possessed crunch and substance at the core. But this theory was quickly shattered when a further visit to the grocery yielded a veritable aisle of “Filipinos” in white chocolate, milk chocolate, in family packs, individual packs and they even sold the CENTERS of the cookie under a different sub-brand plus other shapes and sizes as well! Yipes. Hmmm, if we were to engage in the cookie/pastry wars, would they be offended if I came up with a dessert treat called “Spaniards” – say a pale bread with durian baked into it and rambutan fuzz on the crust so that it was hairy, pale and pungent? Heehee. I jest, I jest, I want no grief for this post! After all, we do call plain sliced white bread “Pan Americano,” don’t we?

At any rate, my wife, daughter and I decided we couldn’t take this seriously until we turned the package over and read, I quote, “Pruebas Filipinos despues 1 hora en la nevera” or “Try Filipinos after 1 hour in the fridge”!!! We all literally cracked up and my daughter was giggling so much she fell to the floor and rolled on her back (I think 10 year olds these days take too much from computer emoticons)! Let’s just say that was a bit too much. What if my mythical “Spaniards” came with instructions “Pruebas Espanoles despues 1 hora en el horno” or “Try Spaniards after 1 hour in the oven”??? We decided this was really a non-issue but if any of you have a really good theory or the facts regarding the choice of Filipinos as a name for the cookie, I am certainly curious. I don’t buy the lone plausible theory I found which is that Spaniards liked Philippine cacao above all others (over Mexican, Ecuadorian, or other South American sources?). Was the name a tribute to their colonized subjects? Were they replicating a cookie that the friars only found in the Philippines? Perhaps a rosquillo being brought to Spain that accidentally fell into a cooling vat of chocolate? Was there some awful ulterior motive? Why are these silly cookies called Filipinos??? Come to think of it, wasn’t there some big brouhaha a few years ago when the Oxford or was it Greek dictionary defined “Filipinas” as “household helpers” or something equally inappropriate? You think the modern day Trojans, from Troy, now part of Turkey, filed a protest when they became synonymous with latex prophylactics? Heeheehee.

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57 Responses

  1. marketmanila i love filipinos!!! i used to order this from my cousins based in barcelona but am so happy to know that barcino’s (a wine shop in ortigas that specializes in spanish wines) carries all the varieties of filipinos.

  2. some say they don’t taste that spectacular… i dunno…. why don’t we import these here? so that when the first batch comes at the customs, we can say, “Oh these in the trailer? don’t worry it’s full of Filipinos” uhhh… that sounds like human smuggling….

    “pale bread with durian baked into it and rambutan fuzz on the crust so that it was hairy, pale and pungent?” harharhar… durian pala ang amoy?? seriously, when you were in Spain MM, do they ,the Kachila, really stink like when they’re here in Manila?

  3. Let’s not take the nice name of these Spanish cookies in vain. Could they have thought up the name because the original cookies took a bath albeit of chocolate. Apparently the early colonizers, no “caballeros del baño” themselves, found it trully remarkable our fondness for taking a bath or baths in the course of a day.

    Food items with names of nationalities are kind of rare in English.
    Apparently when JFK proclaimed to the world that he too was “ein berliner” his phrasing meant to the German ear a pastry known elsewhere as danish.

    More common are derogatory use of common food items such as for a black person who acts white, Oreo or an Asian one, banana.

  4. hahaha…can’t stop laughing over the “hairy, pungent”, etc. part….you’re so clever, MarketMan, tsk, tsk…..

  5. I make sure I bring some home whenever I’m in Europe and I come across some because so many people refuse to believe such a snack exists.

    I have a friend that compared men from all over the world to the bread from their countries (all in jest as well):

    — Europeans have hard rolls; once you get past the tough, crusty exterior, they’re nice, warm and fluffy inside
    — Americans have white bread that’s mushy to start with, and that gets even mushier when you warm it up
    — Filipinos have pan de sal, which is just the right amount of softness to begin with; but gets even better once you warm it up in the oven


  6. has anyone directly asked the makers of this cookies why did they name it as such?

  7. Marketman,

    Whatever their motives are, Im have a feeling that Filipino cookies are the number one pasalubong item that Filipinos(the homo sapien kind) would bring on a trip to the old mother country. Hee hee.

    Tried them first and found them too sweet.I think I like the bite-sized version (as opposed to the roll one). Btw, aside from the red pack one (dark chocolate?), it also came in the blue (caramel) and white (chocolate blanco) version.

    Oh, and theyre big in Portugal too, I saw ads of these little suckers in practically every bus stop in Lisbon!

  8. I would guess they decided to put this chocolate out in the market because they thought it was a good product and would thus be profitable. Just wondering, with the state of our country and reputation the Philippines has, strange that they would not chose a more reputable race/name. hehe….I guess it is complement on our part unless they embark on some sort of subliminal sexual or racist advertising. btw, just started reading your blog. So interesting! I look forward to starting or ending my day reading your stuff!!

  9. After doing some research and reading, I found out that the manufacturer of these cookies were, take note, U.S. and London/U.K. based. Let’s not jump to a conclusion that the Spaniards came up with the name. If this cookie was intended to offend Filipinos, then the Spaniards should be the first to feel insulted by it. The Spaniards named the Philippines and it’s people, as a tribute, after King Philip II – one of Spain’s most important figure. I think it would be an insult to their King’s name and memory.

  10. Please correct this if in error but I thought the Philippines was named after Philip when he was the Prince of Asturias.

  11. I find it curious and amusing, but filing a diplomatic protest over it?!? Yikes! Since we were named after Philip, what makes us think the cookies weren’t named after him as well?

  12. If it’s offensive to some Filipinos, then it IS offensive to all. I find it very offensive as I’m pretty sure it was named as such since the cookie’s brown. They also sell in Spain “conguitos” which is chocolate covered nuts but apperently named as such with a cartoon picture of a boy (of Congo origin) on the front. Spain still doesn’t get “it”. Yes, the Estrada administration complained but I guess not enough was done. As usual another Filipino politician fought the attempt to drop the name Filipinos from the wrapper stating that it gives the Philippines popularity (stupid reasoning of crab mentality).All Spain’s Nabisco did was make other Filipino cookies in white chocolate and milk chocolate to stray away from the racial undertones generated by the original Filipino cookies. BTW, I saw this first in 1992 but all Spaniards I talked to have been eating this since eternity. It is actually very tasty and although I did refuse to eat it at first, I started buying it just to show my friends and family that there are still such merchandise in Spain (my husband loves them and buys them behind my back). How about Bahlsen’s (German) Afrika cookies?

  13. I’m not offended by it at all. My dad used to work for the mother company that distributes Filipinos. He used to bring some home and we’d all have a good time eating away. It’s no big deal, really.

  14. Kay, I believe the cookie was first invented and named in Spain but with mergers and acquisitions of the past decade the food companies consolidated and hence the new ownership by larger conglomerates… Apicio, I think you are right on Philip who was the Prince of Asturias at the time the archipelago was discovered and later became King Philip II in 1542 or 20 years after the Spaniards (or Portuguese) “discovered” us…and before that it was actually referred to on old maps in the early 1500’s as the Archipelagi San Lazari and before that by the Chinese as Ma’i… Side comment – the Prince should have send some bloody favadas from Asturias to grow here…they are so good and so wickedly pricey! At any rate, the comments seem to reflect the two sides of the issue fairly well… Frankly, the cookies are a nice munchable diversion but nothing stunning…sort of like the continental equivalent to perhaps an Oreo??? Had not heard of Afrika cookies until now but come to think of it Milano cookies are good, though I suspect they are patterned after a local delicacy…

  15. Interestingly enough, this site says that Filipinos were what the Spaniards who lived in the Philippines were originally called. Natives were Indios or Negritos after all. It was only later that the Indios and Chinese meztizos dared to also call themselves Filipinos… So maybe the cookie refers to Spaniards coated in chocolate from the islands…heehee. Who knows…

  16. MM, I just still am against calling a product based on the skin color. You’re right about the Milano cookies being called well, Milano since it was a delicacy from Milan. Just as Swiss cheese is a delicacy from Switzerland. Filipino is a race. Philippines is the country. Should I brand my white trash compactor..”White Trash” compactor? ha, ha..

  17. Actually, Filipino is a nationality and we are mostly a part of the Malay race…we could all be called brownies….coconut brownies for pinoys, chilli brownies for Indonesians, kaffir lime brownies for Thais, sambal brownies for Malaysians, and Coriander brownies for Vietnam…heehee, I have now offended the entire Asean. I JEST, I JEST. We must all just smile through this… :)

  18. People, we’re talking about Estrada here. Now this HOOHA isn’t the brightest in the bunch. Sheesh, and we Filipinos elected this loser for our president?!?! Ugh.

  19. Bottom line: It’s a cookie, not toilet paper. You feel happy after having one. Spanish nuts, anyone?

  20. Just my two cents worth: Until we know for sure WHY the company named the cookies “Filipino”, then we should just chill and not take umbrage on an, as yet unproven, slight on our race. Who knows, baka nga they were really named after Philip of Asturias (before or after he became King! Heheh)

  21. frankly,

    i just want to know if the ‘Filipinos taste’ good.
    i am a cookie addict, and this is a foodie blog after all!


    the official blurb on the Filipino biscuits from Artiach:
    Filipinos, the leader in the chocolate biscuit market in Spain, is one of the most popular brands among teenagers. Its crunchy biscuit and irresistible chocolate make it the perfect snack to indulge in.

    In addition to the well known Filipinos, the range also includes the most innovative and distinctive on the market, reinforcing its image as a pioneer and market leader.

    • The standard Filipinos: these round biscuits covered with chocolate are the market leader. The consumer can choose from three kinds of chocolate (dark, milk and white). Perfect for sharing at any time of day

    • Filipinos GoPack: the Filipinos minis, to eat wherever and whenever you want, thanks to the 4-packs of individual, 40-gram servings in two flavours, dark and white chocolate

    • Filipinos Agujeros (Doughnut Holes): Crispy little chocolate-covered balls in two flavours, dark and white chocolate

    • Filipinos Bigsticks: the crispy, 20-cm long snack. Crispy Filipinos biscuits dipped in Belgian chocolate and covered with puffed rice in two flavours, dark and white chocolate

  23. On a scale of 1 to 10 for grocery sourced cookies, I would say they were 6.5 to 7.0 for taste… I wouldn’t say they were anything particularly unique. And actually, I didn’t find that they tasted better after an hour in the fridge…they just got harder. Besides, it is counterintuitive as everyone tells you to enjoy chocolate slightly warm to get the full aroma and maximum taste impact…

  24. Artiach won’t change the name since Filipinos’ popularity is huge in Spain. That would mean market losses. So they instead came up with different varieties of it and expanded the “Filipinos” line.

  25. It’s just a cookie guys! We should stop feeling sorry for ourselves that we share a name with a dark chocolate covered cookie with a hole in the middle that tastes better after an hour in the fridge.

    One of the linked sites above reports that there are even “Filipino Big Sticks” and “Filipino Balls”, with the advertising taking advantage of the sexual innuendo. I’m fine with that. It would have been a different matter altogether if they named it “Filipino small sticks”! Haha! I jest as well.

  26. Okay, I have read all the comments and I have been influenced off the center of the wall…I am now in the camp of the amused rather than offended…what with Filipinos Balls and Filipinos Big Sticks and what not…heeheehee. Thank goodness readers mostly have a sense of humor. What would you all be doing without such inane thoughts coursing through your harried brains?! Gotta put the next post up pronto!

  27. Hey thanks Asunta, I’ll be looking for that wine shop. I love Filipinos! (The people and yes, the cookies.) I tried them in Madrid and yes they’re quite popular. I don’t mind these cookies being named as such… because it’s good. I’d recommend it to chocolate and cookie lovers.

  28. had those cookies couple of years ago when i was on vacation in spain i actually liked them…it was hilarious when i first saw them…the storekeeper was probably wondering why i was taking pictures of cookies…

  29. I like your forum. I love the intelligent blogs, interesting articles, and lively discussion. I think we should lighten up a little bit. No entrepreneur would deliberately name a product after some loser group or race. We don’t know for sure why they named it after us; but there is one thing we know – it is a well sought after proudct – at least abroad. I think we should just enjoy the cookie for what it has to offer – and perhaps feel a little “proud” that they find this dark, smooth, and crunchy thing, satisfying!

  30. For those who want to knit pick then the Belgiums should be up in arms about naming the waffle after them, the Danish for the Danish pastry. Hell, French fries does not belong to le french but to the Belgiums. Should Le French start world war III?! God forbid.

    Considering that we’re a third world country we should relish in the fact that we are being recognized…. AT ALL!

  31. Jean, actually I think it is different to say Swiss Cheese or Belgian waffles as they describe a specific item from that particular country. The Filipinos don’t appear to describe a cookie that originated here…or the cookie has since become extinct. At any rate, it really doesn’t bother me much. Filipinos as a brand name would be more akin to say “Chinese” for say a type of egg noodle. Or Indians (feather, not dot) for a type of dried deer jerky. I don’t think anyone would be offended if someone said, “Aren’t those really good Filipino ensaimadas?” as opposed to the potential slight with a comment like “Wow, don’t those Filipinos taste good?” Heehee. I am still having fun with this. For those that think it has gone too far, just skip to the next post!

  32. Lol. I completely understand were you are coming from, believe me I do. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of this whole topic and all the hoopla that it brought with it. Had to share it with my husband. Made me think about our culture and whatnot. What caught my eye (from your post) was the fact that there are those who found it offensive at all.

    Btw, I’ve been trying to email you without success.

  33. Just my two cents if I find it’s because I love my country. Just like what you said MM,it was named so because of our color in general and that’s a fact. I’m actually part Spanish and I am still offended. Sorry Jean but that original reasoning you brought up was exactly the same reasoning the apathetic politician came up with. Anyway..back to food talk..

  34. mgr, i have to disagree. the reason they called it Filipinos is because of the superior Filipino chocolate that the Spaniards import. Our Tsokolate for them is THE chocolate, so hence, the Filipinos.

  35. And another story goes that one of the OFWs there brought Rosquillos from Cebu, and the Spaniards who did not know any better started calling it Filipinos…

    … but then again, this may be just an urban myth…

    I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles…

  36. Spoke with a whole bunch of Spaniards and that wasn’t the reason they gave me. Just check out their “Conguitos” as well. Anyway, ever wonder why it never reached the US..under that same brand name?

  37. Do we, as people, have such a low level of self-esteem that we get affected by a cookie? In my view, it is neither a slur nor is it a compliment(no matter how good the cookie is). If they intentionally named it that because of the chocolate coating, so what? It would be more telling of them as a people, hehehe. What’s wrong with being dark anyways?

    I guess the popularity of whitening creams have, somehow, a lot to do with this issue! hmmm…

  38. i don’t mind if a cookie is name after us….cute to see our race distibuted all around the world….typical of us, and in different flavors too…it could be a fortune cookie after all…

  39. Love your blog, MM—appeals to both taste buds and intellect. So very Filipino.
    The comments on Filipinos the cookies affirm one facet of our great culture: our connectedness. Pooties (my UCLA-based niece’s term for whites) downright worship individuality and raise their children that way. They don’t feel the same way we Pinoys do when any other Pinoy around the world does anything shameful. (Ex. How did you feel when Andrew Cunanan was accused of killing Gianni Versace? They don’t flinch when their kabababayan do heinous things—and much more frequently, I might add. You should see the local newscasts where I live in California).
    American culture, for one, is in-your-face; not too concerned about saving face as ours and other just-as-ancient cultures are.
    Yup—ancient. Academics around the world now agree that it was our ancestors who populated Indonesia and other points southwest and southeast of our archipelago (not the other way around), all the way to Hawaii and Madagascar, after their ancestors moved down from South China through Taiwan in what is known as the Austronesian Expansion.
    So the term Malay, which has hitherto implied that we are one of the younger nations in Southeast Asia relative to Indonesia and Malaysia, is misleading. This is based on the combined findings of archaeology, linguistics and genetics.
    Let’s give ourselves permission to hold our heads high and no longer be defined by the lies foisted on us by our former colonizers (the pooties, of course to keep us superior perfectly hued beings under their control). ;-)
    Brown has always been beautiful. Whiteness is overrated and, if you think about it, in our language is associated with ill health and unattractiveness! (maputla, kutis butiki, etc.) Here’s a thought: tell at least one kababayan a day how ganda/guapo he or she is in all his or her kayumanggi glory! Mabuhay tayong lahat.

  40. i recently came back from a cruise in Spain and saw this “filipinos” chocolate bar. was so surprised and read the wrapper 2 or 3 times to make sure it said “filipinos” on it. I don’t feel offended nor bad about having it named after the people of the Philippines. I think it’s cool! infact, it tasted good!!! Mabuhay ang Filipinos all over the world.

  41. Hi! I just wanted to share that I don’t think it is an insult to have some cookies named after us, Filipinos. After all there are so many recipes and food names that are titled after a country or its citizens. In fact in Germany, there are also cookies called “Amerikaner” or in English, meaning Americans, and certainly none of the Americans in Germany ever take it to mean negatively. So let’s all enjoy having our cookies along with some orange ceylon teas. O.K. ;)

  42. i don’t think that it’s a really big deal actually. i think that filipinos would enjoy it! its fun to have a cookie named after your raise. :)

  43. How nice of you to put a list of related posts. I never would have read this otherwise.

    This was the topic of the entire evening when I served a package to friends. I thought it was amusing but some folks were offended. Don’t they taste a lot like Fibisco chocolate crunchies? My theory is that the people who made these had those Fibisco cookies here, loved them and decided to make a copycat.

  44. Finally got hold of this Filipinos biscuits – I was in Barcelona a week ago – not bad really. I tried them all: dark, milk and white chocolate. They seem to be very popular in Spain – everybody knows them and likes them, especially young people. They even have a homepage where you can join the “Filipinos community” :

  45. I know it’s off topic but they were quick to get the domain name when it should’ve been one of us (filipinos). Anyway, I’m not offended by the filipino cookies. We have the best cocoa here!

  46. Read through all the posts, and am just amused at our Pinoy sense of humor really. At first, I was offended because it was obviously becasue of our skin color. They only expanded the range AFTER our complaint. But it’s no big deal now, I think. I view it more as a curiosity now. The product is known and popular. What irks me more is the domain as it refers to the cookie. Didn’t any one of us want it? Sayang haha

  47. Really i guess the filipinos are the best.Even if we are stupid and cowards (like myself) we tend to loving and compassionate and we’ve got TONS of passion for what we love. The Philippinez humor are really great right now i’m proud to say that i am a filipino. PILIPINAS,MAHAL KITA!!!!

  48. I got these for pasalubong from a friend who just came from Spain. Like you I didnt know what to feel about it at first. I was amused and after the other and worse both at the same time. I put off eating it right away because it felt weird to answer the question “what are you doing?” hmm “eating Filipinos” It felt like being a cannibal, eating my own kind. LOL but needless to say when it was time to taste it, I really loved it and couldnt stop eating it. My stash is all gone. I wonder if this is available in the US.

  49. Whatever the manufacturers’ (or conceptualizers’) reasons were for naming it ‘Filipinos’ doesn’t change it that the chocolate is awesome! It could be they just wanted the name to sound exotic; as Westernized as the Philippines is than most countries in Asia, lots of people still are unfamiliar with it. I just had lunch with a Norwegian-American dude who asked a lot about Philippine culture, places, and lifestyle.

    Mr. Marketman, I was wondering about someone’s question here regarding King Philip II’s being ‘Prince of the Asturias’ when the arhcipelago was discovered. What I remember from Philippine History is that it was Rui Lopez de Villalobos who named the country “Filipinas” or “Felipinas” some expeditions after Magellan’s (Magellan’s name for the islands was something like ‘Islas de San Lazaro’). And at the time of Villalobos’s naming, Philip was already King of Spain. I could be wrong; my last Philippine History class was years ago. ^_^

  50. does anyone know where we can buy these cookies locally? They don’t sell them in Barcino’s anymore. thanks =)

  51. I ate those many years ago in Spain and I still remember the taste. They tasted like the ones they have in the country where I was born. I am still trying to buy them but I don’t know from where. I finally realized that maybe throught the internet I may find them and I found this website.


    Spanish bread exists though. They are kind of a pale bread with a filling and are dusted with crumbs, I think. The filling is sugar butter though.

    If anyone wants to take offense over the term Filipinos, it’s probably over how Filipinos used to just mean Spaniards who lived in the Philippines, as opposed to Indios.

    But if the term “Las islas Filipinas” can be shorted to Filipinas and The Philippine Islands to The Philippines, why can’t Filipino cookies or The Philippine Cookies be shortened the same way.

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