Every morning, I start my day with a steaming cup of rich, dark Douwe Egberts coffee, made in a battered press coffeepot. (Or, as my Italian friend puts it, that coffee-flavored tea that the Dutch seem to prefer). I take small bags as gifts back to the US with me, along with stroopwafel and chocolate, it’s the bit of the Netherlands that people in the US seem to enjoy most.
On this trip back to the US, I sat next to an auditor with the Sara Lee corporation. The company is a giant in baked goods headquartered where I grew up in Deerfield IL. Talk turned to the Netherlands, it turns out that they have their European HQ outside Utrecht, and we talked a bit about the Vecht area nearby.
I wondered how Sara Lee prospered given Dutch tastes in baked goods; everyone heads around the corner the the bakkerij rather than to the frozen food section of the local AH. He admitted that Sara Lee can’t sell baked goods in the Netherlands, instead they concentrate on beverages and personal care items.
Such as Douwe Egberts.
Oh, yes, he continued, we’ve owned it for years. The only other place we’ve had success with coffee is in supplying Dunkin’ Donuts in the US.
Worse and worse: my beloved Douwe Egberts is really Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in a red bag?
No, no, we kept the local blend and there’s no crossover between the two. The Dutch coffee is still the local, if not completely traditional, blend.
It turns out that Sara Lee manages a surprising number of products that I would have thought where wholly Dutch: Senseo coffee (I thought it was Philips), Pickwick teas (I thought were British), Sanex lotions.
I’m feeling very conglometerized today…