There is one reason and one reason only why I’ve put on so much weight this winter.
Well, okay, maybe there are other reasons too, like the irresistible homemade pasta every day during my backpacking trip in Tuscany… But that’s another story.
No, I blame Quely (pronounced “Kelly”) Biscuits.
I know that it’s not entirely fair to blame them, but they’re just too damned good!
If you are familiar with Quely biscuits and you know how to resist once the packet is open instead of wolfing them down like some kind of unstoppable wild animal, please share your advice in the comments because I clearly need help and it’s already bikini weather in less than a month’s time!
Winter Activities visit to the Quely Factory
It all started last month when our Winter Activities group decided to visit the Quely factory. We were very kindly invited by the famous Tomeu Quely himself, and were given a tour of the factory by the charming commercial manager, Daniel Rotger.
What are Quely Biscuits?
I doubt that you need me to answer this, but just in case you are unsure:
Quely biscuits are what I sometimes give out on the bus on the way home from Inca Market in the summer.
What? You haven’t been on the No Frills Excursions tour with me to Inca Market?
Oh. Okay then…
Quely biscuits are extremely famous in Mallorca, especially with the Mallorcan people themselves.
Quely biscuits are, in fact, from Mallorca, from the town of Inca.
A Quely biscuit is a savoury snack made from flour and olive oil.
Quely biscuits are extremely more-ish and it’s very hard to eat just one.
Local people from Mallorca often stash a few packets of Quely biscuits in their suitcase when they take a trip – even if it’s just a trip to the mainland – just in case they can’t find edible food on their travels. (Mallorcans have double standards when it comes to odd food: they will eat the weirdest of delicacies on their own island, but when they leave the island they are often afraid to try any of that “foreign muck”. Hence the packets of Quely biscuits!)
The most common Quely biscuits are the Quelitas, which are the little bite-sized versions of the Quely biscuit.
Let me tell you a little secret…
I didn’t use to like Quely biscuits.
There, I’ve said it.
I thought that they were boring and dry. When I would give them out on the coach during the Inca Market excursion, as I’ve mentioned, I could never understand why everyone loved them so much. I used to leave the rest of the packet for the driver, who would always be delighted.
I like them now though. In fact, I love them.
And here’s the reason…
A Real Tasty Treat
Until our visit to the Quely factory, I thought that the only thing offered was the typical plain Quely biscuit and the Quelita – the smaller version of the Quely.
I was wrong.
There are actually 100 different types of Quely biscuit made right there in that factory in Inca! Yes, 100!
There are round ones, flat ones, long, thin ones like breadsticks. There are biscuits with seeds in, with herbs, even coated in chocolate. Some of the flavours make your mouth explode: chilli flavour, cheese flavour, onion flavour, black olive flavour…
The problem was, once I started trying the different versions and flavours of the Quelys, I realised what I had being missing before and wanted to try them all. In fact, even just thinking about them now is making my stomach grumble greedily.
The History of Quely
The company that we know nowadays as Quely started making, in 1853, the product that would become an essential part of the Mallorcan diet.
The business was started by the Domenech family and their first outlet was Can Guixe in Inca, which still operates today as a local bakery in the centre of town, and is in fact, where I buy the Quelitas that I share on the coach when I guide the Inca Market tour.
Quely on the high seas
These savoury biscuits were originally made for sailors who would be at sea on long voyages and who needed something that would last much longer than bread. And they were known as Boat Biscuits.
Soon the people staying on dry land discovered the biscuits too and they took off as an interesting savoury snack. They started to be known as Oil Biscuits because one of the key ingredients is olive oil from the island.
What’s in a name?
The name Quely was not used until the 1960s. The owner was such a huge fan of Grace Kelly that he wanted to dedicate his biscuits to her. However, this was still a Mallorcan company 100%, so they changed the spelling of Kelly to a phonetic spelling that could be read by Mallorcan people and pronounced exactly like the actress’ name.
In 1970 the business became a public limited company and the name Quely S. A. was officially registered.
The popularity of Inca’s now famous biscuits meant that the original Can Guixe bakery became too small to produce all the demanded Quely products and so a new purpose-built factory was constructed on the outskirts of Inca in the 1970s.
This factory is the one that I visited, where the biscuits are still produced today.
However, due to the expansion of Inca, the town has grown around the factory and it is no longer on the outskirts, but rather is in the middle of a residential area (providing the community with a mouth-watering smell of baking biscuits every morning – I’ll bet there’s no one in Inca that has the willpower to forego breakfast with those tantalising aromas filling the streets and the nearby train station) and with no physical room for expansion. Therefore, there might be possible future plans to move the factory to an even bigger location in the industrial estate.
Quely up in flames
In 1993 the factory was burnt to the ground in an accidental fire, which quickly spread though the building.
The people of Mallorca were distraught and thought that they would never eat their beloved Quely biscuits again. Every outlet on the island suddenly received a huge rush and stocks were bought up instantly. Apparently people would queue out of the door just to get their hands on a few packets.
However, thanks to the dedication of the Domenech family and the Quely workers, the factory in Inca was back up and running again within just three months.
The people of Mallorca could rest assured that their Quely biscuits were not going anywhere.
The Quely Factory Tour
Every person that went to school in Mallorca has done the Quely factory tour. Everyone I have spoken to about my visit to the Quely factory has their own fond memories about being shown around, meeting Tomeu Quely and proudly taking home to their family a special bag of Quelitas.
Well now it was my turn.
Yes, as if I didn’t enjoy it enough with the Winter Activities group, I went back the following week for a full-blown gastronomic tour for local chefs, foodie movers and shakers and gastro-bloggers, complete with a special Quely-tapas tasting prepared by the very talented Tomeu Torrens from the popular Celler Can Amer Restaurant in Inca.
On both occasions we were met by Daniel Rotger, the charming and knowledgeable commercial manager at Quely. He gave us a fantastic tour of the installations, introduced us to some of the staff and gave us a run-down of the history.
I’m a QuelyCrack!
Bet you’re jealous aren’t you!
#QuelyCracks was the hashtag given to the gastronomic visit (my second visit – which was by invitation only) for the attendees to use on their social media pages, such as Twitter, when referring to the visit.
We all got an official #QuelyCracks pass with our name on it.
After the tour we were introduced to chef Tomeu Torrens. He has the typical Mallorcan celler Can Amer in Inca. The word celler basically comes from wine cellar, meaning that it is an establishment that used to, or still does, produce its own wine.
It turns out that Quely has a very good relationship with other local businesses in Inca and they collaborate especially closely with Can Amer.
A Quely Feast
Tomeu Torrens and his team had been working since the early hours of the morning to prepare us a delicious and innovative feast of tapas, that we would devour with joy.
There were Quely biscuits with foie, Quely biscuits with sobrassada, Quely biscuits with quails eggs, Quely biscuits with serrano ham, Quely biscuits with octopus, with cheese, with marmalade, with ricotta. There were ground Quely biscuits that had been used as the breadcrumbs to coat tasty, homemade croquettes.
The tapas just kept coming out.
And that’s where my Quely addiction started.
Since then I’ve recreated many of the easier tapas at home and have even created some of my own.
In fact, I will share some of the recipes with you here sometime. During the #QuelyCracks visit we were set a little challenge to create our own recipe using the Quely biscuits. Unfortunately, even though I made plenty of creations with the products, I didn’t have time to document my recipe before the deadline because first I had visitors (when you live on a Mediterranean island, you always have visitors) and then I went on a trip myself.
However, I did take part in the Quely photo challenge on the Quelitas Facebook page and I won!! That means I’ll shortly be receiving even more delightful Quely products!
What do you think of the photo that I entered?
Where can I buy Quelys and Quelitas?
Well, if you are in Mallorca then that’s easy: just pop into any supermarket on the island and you will find them. Obviously the bigger stores will have a wider selection regarding the different flavours and variations.
Quely biscuits are also sold in mainland Spain at all El Corte Ingles supermarkets.
Quely exports all over the world, believe it or not. And not just in Europe either. You can find Quelys in USA, Dominican Republic, Qatar, China and Australia.
If you buy Quelys outside of Spain you’ll get the special packaging as well: here in Mallorca we just get the most basic and cheapest bag because here the biscuits only need a shelf-life of six months as there’s a high turn-over and they all get gobbled up quickly. In other countries where consumption is lower the Quelys can be preserved for three years in triple-layered glossy packaging.
If you buy Quelys in Britain you will probably find the biggest range of different flavours just like with crisps – though you won’t find them in Sainsbury’s. I don’t know the story behind it but during our tour Daniel told me that they got kicked out of Sainsbury’s!
Quelitas and wine
Sounds like a nice combination doesn’t it?
You know that there is a lot of wine production in Mallorca? That’s putting it lightly – there are grapevines all over the countryside and there are over 200 wine cellars producing wine just on the island.
Every so often there are wine tasting events in Mallorca. Okay, very often. In spring and autumn you can find a wine tasting event in a different village every week, where the local wine cellars present their latest products.
Quelitas are always present at wine tasting events in Mallorca. Every wine cellar at the event has its own table where they present and serve their wines and there is always a large plate of Quelitas on each table for people to help themselves from before they taste the next wine. This is for two reasons:
- Quelitas are very neutral and make the best palate cleanser.
- With something to nibble on and to line the stomach with, the attendees don’t get too drunk.
I once went to a wine tasting event which ran out of Quelitas and there was utter chaos.
If you want to see some more photos from the visit, Click-Mallorca has some really nice ones, which you can see here.
A few fun Quely facts
And just to finish, a few fun did-you-know facts about Quely:
- The Quely factory in Inca uses 10 tons of flour every day.
- Quely is still owned by the same family who started the business in 1853.
- Do you know who Tomeu Quely is? Find out on the Quely Facebook fan page.
- The Quely galleta Maria (like a Rich Tea) is more popular than the galleta Maria from other brands because it is the only one that contains honey.
- At Quely they also make their own turron, a very popular Christmas treat in Mallorca, like nougat, and their own ensaimadas, those famous spiral pastries which are also typical from Mallorca.
- Quely even make their own olive oil. It’s called Son Pons and it’s very good. I highly recommend it.
- Mallorcan tennis player, Rafa Nadal was the Quely international ambassador for three years.
- Long, thin Quely biscuits, like breadsticks, known as palitos, were introduced to stop people from confusing the traditional oval-shaped biscuits with dog biscuits.
- Quely biscuits are kosher and they have the certificate to prove it. A rabbi has to come every year to confirm that everything meets the correct standards to be considered kosher. Funny thing: sometimes it’s a rabbi from Barcelona and sometimes it’s a rabbi from Belgium!
- Despite all the different variations of Quely products available nowadays, the most popular product by far is still the original and simple Quelita.
What did I miss? Do you know any Quely facts that I haven’t thought of? Add them in the comments.
How about you? Have you every been to the Quely factory? Or have you ever done a similarly delicious visit?
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....