In the 1840s, the popularity of English butter biscuits sparked innovation, facilitated competition, and launched two legendary European biscuit brands. This is the story of Leibniz-Keks.

Biscuits were developed as a means of preserving and storing food for travel. The original biscuits were small, unleavened cakes that were made as dry and hard as possible, to preserve them for the longest amount of time. Indeed, the English word “biscuit” originally meant “twice-baked”, because the cooking process was much like modern biscotti, with a baking process followed by drying in the oven. 

In the 1800s, the combination of the Industrial Revolution and the greater availability of sugar sparked a burst of biscuit competition in Britain, launching companies like McVitie’s, Huntley & Palmers, Carr’s, and more. Huntley & Palmers’ decorative biscuit tin allowed biscuits to be exported around the world, while Cadbury launched a chocolate-covered biscuit. Between 1897 and 1900, British inventors completed 49 patent applications for different biscuit-making equipment, including ornamental molds, tins, cutters, and more. 

Biscuit Innovation in Europe

In 1846, French baker Jean-Romain Lefèvre sold Huntley & Palmers biscuits from the patisserie in Nantes where he worked. In 1850, Jean-Romain and his wife, Pauline, bought the shop, and Pauline took over the management of the business. She transformed the small patisserie into the elegant and upscale Maison LU. In 1882, son Louis Lefèvre-Utile took over the family business. Having studied the manufacture of British biscuits, he launched the famous LU Veritable Petit Beurre in 1886, 

While the LU recipe was substantially the same as all other similar biscuit recipes, the combination of a distinctive design, aggressive marketing, and the use of the word “Veritable” in the product name, the LU biscuit quickly became popular. 

In fact, LU biscuits were so popular that Hermann Bahlsen, a German food innovator, made a version of his own in 1891 and called them Leibniz-Keks. 

Today, butter biscuits from LU, Bahlsen, McVities, and other companies continue to be sold and enjoyed worldwide, and many are still made with the original recipes developed in the 1800s. 

The Eternal Biscuit Tin

More than any other product, the story of the biscuit is the story of packaging. Huntley & Palmers’ tin container allowed their biscuits to be exported to over 170 countries. Pauline Lefèvre-Utile sold pastries in beautiful cardboard boxes. And the Bahlsen company has been innovating in packaging from the very beginning of the company. In 1904, Bahlsen introduced the famous TET-packaging that would become synonymous with the company. The paper-board box protected the biscuits from dust and breakage, while a wax-paper lining excluded moisture and kept the biscuits fresh for longer. The TET package not only contributed to the huge success of Leibniz-Keks, but transformed the packaging of a wide range of foods. 

The Bahlsen company didn’t stop there. In 1956, they launched the world’s first thermoplastic package. Made of welded aluminum foil, the new package was airtight, waterproof, and stiff, protecting the biscuits. 

The traditional steel biscuit tin invented by Huntley & Palmers remains a classic way to package biscuits, and over 60% of UK households have a biscuit tin. Many of these tins have become collector’s items, and some of the most exotic and decorative designs have increased in value. 

However, despite the popularity and beauty of ornamental tins, the Balsen innovation of combining a lining with an external box has transformed food packaging worldwide. Today, this technique preserves the flavor and quality of hundreds of foods. 

The Bahlsen company continues to thrive, selling over 2 billion cookies in 55 countries in 2015 and relaunching the eternally popular Leibniz-Keks in 2022. The fresh new look marks another chapter in their history of innovative packaging around their timeless classic biscuit recipe, proving that history and tradition can go hand in hand with change and innovation. Would you like to strengthen your innovation in fine bakery, confectionery, and sweet goods? Contact Grapefrute to reach out to the best talent.