Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy

Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy December 29, 2019 · 7 min. readThis article may contain affiliate links.

It would probably astound you how many people pronounce my last name wrong. If they're spelling it out, they will probably spell it wrong too. Whenever somebody looks for my name up in a computer, it usually takes several attempts. Is there a space? No space? Try searching just "Jong"? I get weekly emails and letters addressed to "Mr. Jong" all the time. Potential employers even admitted they were surprised to see me walk through the doors, as I am as far away as an Asian man as one can get.

But in a small country on the coast of Europe, my last name is as common as North America's "Smith". In fact, "de Jong" is the most popular last name in the Netherlands, and I have a lot of extended family living out there. As fate would have it, earlier this year I was even lucky enough to meet one of these relatives while she was in Regina.

As a gift, I mailed her a FLAT Bunnyhug, and she mailed me back a box of various Dutch chocolates and candy. I've always enjoyed trying sweets from other countries, so I figured I would make an article about them.  

Before we get too far into the review, it's important to remember that in the Netherlands there is no Santa Clause. Instead, they have Sinterklaas – a fictional character based off St. Nicholas. Some argue that Sinterklaas' origins go back to the Germanic Worman or the Norse Odin. Unlike Santa, Sinterklaas neither lives in the North Pole or travels by reindeer. Instead, he lives in Spain and travels by steamboat.

Another difference is that Sinterklaas doesn't have little green elves. Instead, he has Zwarte Piet, whom are his black-faced human-sized helpers. Originally Zwarte Piet were said to be unintelligent Moors (Muslims from Spain and area), but these days they are a little more politically correct. Because the Dutch were so heavily involved in the slave trade and colonisation of parts of Africa, the modern portrayal of Zwarte Piet has changed to be that of clever workers who are covered in chimney soot.

In traditional Dutch culture, when Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet leave gifts off at somebody's house, they often leave a poem alongside it. Normally this poem makes gest of something the gift recipient did that past year. In the spirit of Christmas, my relatives sent me a poem too.

"Who knocks on every door?
Who brings presents galore?
Who is nice to every (big) child?
Who is gentle, wise and mild?
Who comes around in December?
Is it someone you remember?
It's not Santa Clause, my dear.
First Sinterklass is here!
His helper, who we know as Piet,
is a funny guy indeed!
what does he carry on his back?
It is a big, brown sack
full of sweets and toys
for all the girls and boys.
So come together and have fun!
The holiday season has begun!"

After Jessica and I were done reading the poem, we started on the Christmas chocolates. The first we tried was the giant chocolate letters, called "chocolade letter melk". These are a traditional Dutch Christmas chocolate but are just milk chocolate with nuts inside. It was tasty but not too different than the milk chocolate I've had in Canada.

Chocolate letters K & J Chocolate letter K

The next were chocolate statuettes of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. The Sinterklaas statuette didn't survive the journey from the Netherlands, but the Zwarte Piet did. Again, these were just milk chocolate, so they still very familiar. The only difference is that they were hollow inside.

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet statuettes Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet statuettes

The next candy we tasted was called "Amandel Marsepein", which translates to "Almond Marzipan". Maybe it's because I don't bake, but I have never heard of the word "marzipan" before in my life. For those who also don't know it, it's like fondant on fancy cakes, but it is used to make decorations, like leaves, pumpkins, people, etc.

"Amandel Marsepein" is also a traditional Dutch Christmas food, but it's a little weird. Being primarily ground almonds and sugar, it smells like Play-Doh, but tasted like fake Halloween "food" candies. It was okay to eat, but of all the candies sent over, it was the only one I didn't finish. I drink almond milk with my cereal so I thought I'd like it, but I couldn't get past the smell.

Amandel Marsepein Amandel Marsepein

Next was the "Gemengde Chocolade Kruidnoten". When I poured these out of the bag, I expected them to be soft little chocolate buttons. I popped one into my mouth, chomped down on it and was very surprised! My expression was of such confusion that Jessica asked me what was wrong. I mumbled with my mouth full that they were crunchy.

Chocolate gingerbread buttons Chocolate gingerbread buttons

We translated the title of the food to figure out what I had just ate, and it turns out "gemengde chocolade kruidnoten" means "mixed chocolate cloves" or "mixed chocolate gingerbread buttons". We were both sure that "gemengde" would translate into "German", so we were surprised with every part of that translation. When I realised it was gingerbread, the crunch made a lot more sense.

The last candy we tried was just plain old kruidnoten. Now that we knew what it was (and it looked a lot more like gingerbread without the chocolate covering) we ate them without hesitation.

Gingerbread buttons Gingerbread buttons

I had a lot of fun trying out these Dutch chocolates and candies, and it reminded me very much of my time in Amsterdam with food that seemed "almost" like what we have back in Canada.

Have you ever had foreign Christmas candy? What did you think of it? Would you like to try any of these? Let me know in the comments below! 

Don't forget to pin it!

Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

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Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy

It would probably astound you how many people pronounce my last name wrong. If they're spelling it out, they will probably spell it wrong too. Whenever somebody looks for my name up in a computer, it usually takes several attempts. Is there a space? No space? Try searching just "Jong"? I get weekly emails and letters addressed to "Mr. Jong" all the time. Potential employers even admitted they were surprised to see me walk through the doors, as I am as far away as an Asian man as one can get.

But in a small country on the coast of Europe, my last name is as common as North America's "Smith". In fact, "de Jong" is the most popular last name in the Netherlands, and I have a lot of extended family living out there. As fate would have it, earlier this year I was even lucky enough to meet one of these relatives while she was in Regina.

As a gift, I mailed her a FLAT Bunnyhug, and she mailed me back a box of various Dutch chocolates and candy. I've always enjoyed trying sweets from other countries, so I figured I would make an article about them.  

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