Dutch Chocolate Letters
Chocolate letters are a tradition dating back to around 1900. In Holland Sinterklaas is celebrated December 5th. As part of this celebration each person receives a chocolate letter – the first letter of their first name. The letters are placed in the children’s shoes as Sinterklaas makes his rounds checking on the children. Before 1900 the letters were made of bread and used for teaching with the reward of eating the letter once learned. There were and some bakeries still make them with almond paste – “Banket Letters”. For more information about the history of chocolate letters and Sinterklaas – check out stnicholascenter.org .
Peters Gourmet Market has been offering our customers chocolate letters since 1976 when Neal Peters purchased Van’s Dutch Store. We added up how many letters (approximately) we have sold since 1976 and it is over 1 million letters. We have always offered Droste until they stopped making them due to an ownership change. Fortunately that was only for one season and gladly we carry all 26 of the larger size Droste letters and all 26 letters in the smaller size from DeHeer. In Holland there are many kinds of shapes, sizes, types of chocolate and packaging available in chocolate letters. For export markets like the US or Canada, we need boxed letters with correct labeling which limits the variety we can offer
We have to place our order for letters by the end of April. The Chocolate Letters are produced in August and shipped in early September typically. Unlike our retail counterparts in Holland, our letters make a one way trip. In Holland the stores are allowed to return their leftover letters with a small fee and the manufacturers “re-purpose” the chocolate. Each year we adjust the quantities and each year has its challenges in terms of having enough of every letter (or ending up with too many extra!).
Chocolate letters are a fun gift – not only at Sinterklaas but also for Christmas, stocking stuffers, employee gifts, teacher gifts, business promotion. We will post on our web site and Facebook when the letters arrive. If you would like to order your letters click here (please note letters are only in stock from October thru December)
All the best!