Nilla Wafers

Nilla Wafers (History, Marketing & Commercials)

Nilla Wafers are one of the most popular products that Nabisco makes, and most people were given these little sweet wafer cookies when they were kids. Even adults love the simplicity and sweetness of Nilla Wafers. There is something really satisfying and comforting about a sweet cookie like this, which is likely part of why this cookie is still such a big hit even today.

Nilla Wafers have been around for a really long time, and they have lost none of their charm over the years. While more complex cookies and treats have filled out the supermarket shelves in the cookie aisle, Nabisco has resisted the pressure to change and has kept Nilla Wafers just as they always were. Nilla Wafers are the kind of snack that everyone can share and which will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Nilla Wafers

History

The recipe for the Nilla Wafer was actually invented in the late 19th century. Sweet cookies and biscuits were just starting to be popular, and German-American confectioner Gustave A. Mayer was the inventor of the original Nilla Wafers recipe. He actually sold the recipe to Nabisco, and they made the first batches of the cookies under the name Vanilla Wafers in 1898. 

At the time that Nabisco bought the recipe, they were doing business as the National Biscuit Company. The name would be shortened later on to the more memorable and easier-to-say Nabisco. Nabisco has always loomed large in the biscuits and cookies aisle, and you would have to struggle to name some classic cookies that are not made by this company. Biscuits as a snack item were still a new concept in the late 19th century, but Nabisco made this the central theme of their product lineup.

It turns out that Nabisco was smart to hang their hat on biscuits, as cookies have become one of the most popular kinds of sweets and treats in the US. Candy and cookies are often almost inseparable in people’s minds, and cookie makers have also benefitted from the inclusion of many of their most classic treats in common holiday recipes that are made by families all across the United States.

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There are so many different kinds of recipes that people consider incomplete without a classic cookie added to the recipe. This was not something that Nabisco could have predicted for their products, but it has helped the company to remain steadfast and successful throughout more than 100 years of selling cookie products.

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Nilla Wafers caught on quickly, especially in the South, and they are still considered a major and important component of many classic Southern desserts. Nilla Wafers are so closely associated with Southern banana pudding that boxes of Nilla Wafers usually have the recipe for the pudding on the box.

Some people also connect banana pudding with Elvis, and so both of these connections exist in the minds of some consumers. While Elvis had nothing to do with the Nilla Wafers banana pudding recipe becoming so popular, many people linked the ideas inseparably.

The name of the wafers was not abbreviated until 1967 to make the product have a slightly fresher and more memorable branding. The product did not change at all, however. The Nilla Wafer, under either product name, has always been a round, thin, and light cookie made in a wafer shape. The product was originally flavored with real vanilla, but the recipe had since been altered to use synthetic flavoring. 

Today, there are various spin-off products associated with Nilla Wafers, and you can get pie crusts in most grocery stores along with the original Nilla Wafers themselves. The Nilla Wafer lineup has also been expanded to add more cookie types, and there have been branding connections made for limited sales items that have the Nilla Wafer or its flavor included in them as well.

Nilla Wafers are sold in large boxes as well as single-serve pouches. Many people love the affordability of this little snack, particularly if they have a large family to feed. Here are not many other cookie brands that offer so much bang for your buck and such a delightful and popular flavor profile.

Varieties

  • Chocolate Nilla Wafers
  • Lemon Nilla Wafers
  • Rainbow Nilla Wafers
  • Strawberry Nilla Wafers
  • Gluten-Free Nilla Wafers
  • Mini Nilla Wafers
  • Keto Nilla Wafers
  • Low-Fat Nilla Wafers
  • Pokemon Nilla Wafers

What Are Nilla Wafers Like?

Nilla Wafers are really unique in that they are both light and airy and also slightly rich and creamy in nature. You will enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth type of eating experience with these sweet little cookies, and they hold up well to being stored without going stale. They are also really impervious to the moisture from things like puddings, cake fillings, and whipped cream, which makes them a great addition to any dessert that needs a little bit of texture.

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The sweet, but not too sweet, vanilla flavor is also a really key aspect of the flavor of this product. There are so many really sweet cookies out there on the market today that it can be nice to enjoy something simple that really does make you think of a biscuit and not a soft chocolate chip cookie or something like a snickerdoodle. The size of the Nilla Wafer is also a big benefit to its popularity because it really is bite-sized, and it is a friendly size and shape for young children to consume as well.

The slightly chewy texture is also a really nice note, combined with the light and sweet taste of this cookie treat. There are not many cookies out there with this unique wafer-like texture, and this is one of the things that many people rave about the most when they talk about why they like the Nilla Wafer compared to other cookie products.

Ingredients

From the HEB entry:

  • Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid)
  • Sugar
  • Canola Oi
  • Palm Oil
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Whey (from Milk)
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate)
  • Mono- and Diglycerides
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Soy Lecithin

The company warns that the products contain wheat, milk, egg, and soy. You will not be able to enjoy these little wafers if you have food allergies to most of the common items and they are not Kosher. The gluten-free version of the product is the only allergy-friendly version of the recipe that is sold. This can be a really nice option for those who cannot have gluten, but it does not eliminate the milk for those who are looking for a vegan option in the Nilla Wafer lineup.

Nutrition

Serving Size:8 cookies (30g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories 139
Calories from Fat 47
Total Fat 5.2g8%
Saturated Fat 1.7g9%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.2g
Cholesterol 0.3mg0%
Sodium 121mg5%
Potassium 25mg1%
Total Carbohydrates 22g7%
Dietary Fiber 0.4g2%
Sugars9.5g
Protein 1.2g
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.
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Livery

This product has always been marketed in some version of a large, yellow box. The original product livery often just showed a large plate of the little wafers in the center of the box with the logo above it. Today’s Nilla Wafer box is also yellow, but the plate of wafers has gone away. Now there are just a few wafers dotting the middle space of the box under the large logo. The logo is simple, large, and red and states, “Nilla” in large font, while the, “wafers” part of the product title is much smaller and justified to the right.

Nabisco always tags all of their product boxes with their logo in the top left corner, and this is the standard on the Nilla Wafers box as well. Your parents likely picked up basically the same box at the store when begging to add these wafer cookies to the cart. There are very few products on the market in the cookie category which have changed as little as the Nilla wafer has over time.

The brand recognition associated with this simple and basic product design is likely a big aspect of the reason that no changes have been made. However, the popularity of the Nilla Wafer also makes them basically sell themselves, so it might just be that Nabisco has not felt any pressure to change something that works very well for this product.

Logo

Nilla Wafers Logo

Pictures

Commercials

Most of the ads for this product feature the tagline, “simple goodness” but there have also been lots of ads that make the most of the banana pudding connection that Nilla Wafers is so known for. While banana pudding is not always a familiar treat outside of the South, there is something really appealing about people sharing a snack together as a family and talking about how great Nilla Wafers are.

These little cookies are so appealing on their own that you really don’t have to work hard to make them look attractive to kids and adults alike. Combine the appealing nature of these little treats with the large number of Nilla Wafers in a box, and you have a recipe for a product that adults and kids can agree upon for a whole host of reasons.

An ad from the 80s:

Another 80s ad:

Someone’s homemade Nilla Wafers recipe if you want to make your own:

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

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One Comment

  1. It said nilla wafers resisted change since the beginning, but I certainly remember them being a lot larger when I was a child back in the early 60s

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