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Aug 24, 2003 04:25 PM

Ivins Ginger Biscuits

  • r

I am looking forward to the fall season, and thinking also about a vacation we took in the Valley Forge/Montgomery County area of Pennsylvania, in November, 1996. We talked to some local people who raved about a Pennsylvania fall tradition of eating Ivins Ginger Biscuits, and spreading pumpkins butter on them. Well, Halloween had already passed, but we found a local grocery store that still had some Ivins Ginger biscuits, and we chowed down on our own version of your local tradition.
Questions: Can anybody here confirm that this is a regional and seasonal favorite for Pennsylvanians?Where can I find Ivins Ginger Biscuits for mail order? (My word search on the net yielded nothing at all.)
Thanks! Hope to get up your way again sometime!
Ric in Florida

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  1. We call them Ivin's Gingersnaps, and I've been a fan since I was a little biscuit myself. I don't know about on-line, but I do know that they were always readily available (and often long before October) at Acme supermarkets. Maybe they'll ship you some?

    Good luck and good eating!

    7 Replies
    1. re: kagoo

      Thanks, kathleen!! I may have to give Acme a call. I have also found out that Ivins are exclusively at Acme, if the link below is accurate. The article I have "linked" mentioned that you guys have another brand, Sweetzels, that is more popular than Ivins, but that has had some production and consistency problems in the last couple of years. Any preference if I want the most authentic taste of Pennsylvania in the Fall?


      1. re: ric

        Sweetzels are fine (and, in fact, seem to be edging Ivins out), but Ivins are better (in my opinion). Darker, more intense ginger flavor, and ...not as sweet! Wonderful with a glass of cold milk (and not half bad with a glass of red wine). So go with Ivins if you can, Sweetzels if you can't, or do a taste comparison and let me know what you think.

        1. re: kagoo

          Ivins are personal and family favorites, but Sweetzels will do in a pinch. I understood the production problems were related to a serious fire in the Bridgeport business park where they were located, but this should not be an issue now. Just a personal note: my brother's favorite way to eat these was to crumble the gingersnaps (not too small) into a tall glass, fill the glass with milk, eat the soggy cookies with an iced tea spoon, and drink the cookie milk! Ugh, it used to turn my stomach, but I am more tolerant these days.

        2. re: ric

          Every reference I've stumbled upon calls them "Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers". The link below explains the history. Apparently, they are a Phila. specialty. I look forward to them every fall, especially to use in making a cookie crust for a pumpkin cheesecake.

          -- Bill


          1. re: Bill Brennan

            They are called Ivins famous spiced wafers and i sit here with my last box in front of me.I was in pa last week and sure didn't bring enough back but i was able to order the sweetzels here.(They are only sold part of the year between i think aug and end of nov.)
            Pennsylvania General Store
            Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm

            1. re: Jeanne

              i live in texas... they are not available here!!!! my husbands mother sent them to me every year... she died in 2001.. now i don't get them anymore ... CRY CRY CRY TEARS!!!!...THEY ARE THE BEST COOKIES IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!!!! SURE WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO GET THEM AGAIN!!!! OH WELL!!! H.M. MARLOW

            2. re: Bill Brennan
              Brian D. Koons

              Sweetzel's is also a brand of spiced wafer unique to the Philadelphia area.

        3. Last autumn (2008), I embarked on a definitive quest to determine what differences, if any, exist between Ivin's Spiced Wafers and Sweetzels. I had a long history with Ivin's, having grown up in the Philadelphia metropolitan area where they were a very common autumn treat 40-50 years ago. Last fall, I found them at an Acme Market on Maryland's Eastern Shore. First time in many years that I had seen them. It seems that the brand is now unique to Acme Markets, a Philadelphia-based chain affiliated with Albertson's for some years now.

          Purchasing boxes of both Ivin's and Sweetzels, I have come to the conclusion that they are most likely both manufactured by Sweetzels, but with a slightly different recipe. Compared side-by-side, the cookies look identical. Also, the boxes are identical in size and the interior packaging is identical. Even the colors on the package are very similar (black and orange, although a slightly different orange is used). Nutritional information of the packages differs only very slightly. It is evident that they most likely came off the same assembly line.

          The difference is in the aroma and flavor. Ivin's have a distinctly stronger aroma of CLOVES than Sweetzels. This carries over to the flavor, where the difference is less pronounced, but still noticable. Take one cookie out of each box and inhale the aroma - you'll notice it immediately.

          Best guess is that Acme Markets decided to revive the brand because there is a local market for it (baby boomers like me, for instance) and farmed out the manufacturing to Sweetzels since they are local and probably have to capacity to make plenty.

          For my money, the Ivin's flavor is superior, but I can enjoy either one. Takes me back to my childhood in Philly.

          PS - My wife, a dedicated ginger snaps fan, had never tasted Ivin's Wafer. Tried them and loved them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: OldTopper

            I agree with OldTopper that it appears that Ivins' and Sweetzels are made by the same place. I suspect though the manufacturer is the Stauffer's Biscuit Company in York, PA

          2. Ivins Spiced Wafers are on sale this week at the Acme, so stock up!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Max Buten

              Ivins have never been around Florida, as near as I can tell, but I have found Sweetzels from time to time. I went on the hunt for my annual "fix" today and they are not out yet. I will check back during the season. Any other fans of Sweetzels (or even Ivins) in Florida have some leads?

              1. re: Florida Hound

                Im in South Florida, i never found them here. I recently visited up there and went to Acme and stocked up. There is one web site that i found that has them, but kind of expensive.

              2. Www
                ACME markets carry them in south Jersey where I am from. Sooo good