It is still well before December, but the peppernuts cookies and chocolate letters are already sold in the shops. Getting consumers excited about the coming Sinterklaas season is what retailers are incredibly smart about these days. The amounts of chocolate eaten grow to incredible amounts every year. We sell 22,000,000 chocolate letters every year. How did the chocolate letter become such a typically Dutch tradition?
Who is sweet gets letters …
The ancient tradition of the chocolate letter began in the Middle Ages. Children in monastery schools learned to make letters with bread dough, which they were allowed to eat as soon as they had succeeded in kneading a good letter. What bread dough has to do with chocolate letters becomes clear around 1890. In that period cocoa prices fell so sharply due to increasing imports that the letters of bread dough were replaced by chocolate. In fact, the confectionery became so popular that complete names were given away in chocolate letters. It was a good thing that short names like Jan, Wim and Piet were the most common at that time!
Putting your shoe for Sinterklaas
During the Second World War, chocolate became scarce, forcing families in the Netherlands to temporarily say goodbye to the popular confectionery. Verkade still made letters, but had to use language for this temporarily. After the war prosperity quickly increased again, which also changed the Sinterklaas celebration. While the Sinterklaas feast was not celebrated too extensively before, now nothing was too crazy for the Dutch. Shoes were put on and the traditional Dutch Sinterklaas party was now also combined with rewarding children in the form of sweets. Of course, the chocolate letters should not be missing here!
Everyone has known for decades that cocoa farmers get a bad price for their product. The search for an honest chocolate letter has finally come to an end with the arrival of Tony’s Chocolonely. Because Tony’s chocolate letters are good anyway, transforming honest beans into real chocolate letters.