Assault on the taste buds: trying the Dutch drop (black liquorice)

When one decides to go abroad, there are many factors to consider: where to live, the best places to go out, the culture and values, cost of living, the public transport system and of course, the culinary delights (or horrors) that a country has to offer.

If you’re like me, then you love food. Eating is not merely a matter of survival. Yes, my friend, it’s an experience.

Food brings people together. It’s an opportunity to have hilariously inappropriate conversations complete with sexual innuendo over some borrelhapjes. Food can bring about that twinge of nostalgia for that time you were on your heavenly vacation in some exotic faraway land. If you’re exceptionally hungry, food can restore you back to a normal state from the crazed grumpy person you were before you ate. Delicious nutrition can turn your mood from sour to sweet in a matter of seconds.

“Tasty” treats

Speaking of sweet, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you will certainly want to dive into the wonderland of sweets that whatever country you’re in has to offer. You know, get some sugar into your blood and start bouncing off the walls like a five-year-old child. Being a Canadian, I’ve had unrestrained access to junk food. So naturally, I’d want to discover how the Dutch satisfy their sweet tooth.

If you live in the Netherlands, you’ll have come across or will come across the infamous drop, otherwise known as the Dutch version of black liquorice for all you English-speakers. You’ll see these candies everywhere: at the Albert Heijn in your neighbourhood, the HEMA around the corner, the market down the street and even in pharmacies.

But don’t be fooled, these “tasty” treats are anything but ordinary. If you’re brave enough, you can even try the various eccentric drop flavours and their accompanying shapes. I shudder at the thought of those atrocities. But, to the Dutch tongue, these candies are undoubtedly super lekker!

To the foreign tongue, however, it’s something that needs preparation. If you’re trying to look pretty or half-way decent, beware, your face will distort into something that resembles a constipated gremlin or anything that doesn’t look human.


Dutch drop
When a foreign person eats drop 


The science behind the Dutch drop

Let’s take a look at this through a somewhat-scientific lens, shall we? Why do people either love or hate black liquorice? Well, according to this interesting NBC news article, it could actually be that people are born with an inherent liking or a disliking towards black liquorice. It looks like in addition to being really tall, your undying love for drop is running through your veins, Dutchies!

Let me drop some more knowledge on you (sorry, couldn’t resist). Did you know that there are actually health-related dangers when it comes to eating black liquorice? It could even cause heart problems if consumed in high quantities. Somehow, I don’t think this would deter Dutchies from consuming a shitload of drop. They are world-class pros when it comes to biking in dangerous situations so why would a little candy be any cause for concern?

dutch drop licorice
So many different kinds of drops to not enjoy. Image: Angelbattle bros/Flickr

If you do feel a little worried, I have some good news. It’s somewhat contradicting but black liquorice is known to possess some health benefits too. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat a variety of ailments.

Having a Dutch drop? Nee, dankjewel!

Whatever the case may be, I’m sure as hell avoiding drop like the plague. Ever heard of the saying, once you go black, you’ll never go back? That doesn’t apply here, at least not for people who weren’t born the natural ability to enjoy this cornerstone of Dutch cuisine.

The first time (and last time) I had drop was at work. My co-worker had an assorted bag of candy and offered some to me. I happily accepted, unaware that it also contained this strange Dutch variety of black liquorice. Unfortunately for me, that’s the one I chose. I immediately scrunched up my face in disgust and spit the half-chewed candy into the garbage followed by a “Bleh!”. Needless to say, my co-workers found my reaction amusing.

Well, regardless of whether or not you like drop, we can rejoice in the fact that generally speaking, most of us love candy, sweets, treats, sugar…whatever. I think I’ll just be sticking to stroopwafels from now on.

What about you? How do you like the Dutch drop? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature image: Angelbattle bros/Flickr


  1. ‘In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat a variety of ailments.’ – Lies, there’s only penis enlargement treatments in Chinese medicine 😉

  2. I’ve always considered drop to be the poor man’s heroin: chemical, dark-coloured, in no shape, way or form good for you; but – damn! – have you ever tried to stop consuming it?

  3. No worries, I am Dutch to the core and I rarely find it very tasty. Sometimes when offered I will take one and like it well enough, but usually I say no thank you. Which, yes, is apparently “weird!”.

  4. Is drop this one particular type of licorice shown in the picture or does it refer to black licorice in general? I haven’t been to the Netherlands but I’ve tried different types and brands of American, Scandinavian and British licorice. Some I like, some I don’t. I also enjoy licorice mixed with other flavors. Chocolate covered Icelandic licorice is a particular favorite and I’ve always liked British licorice allsorts and even Good N Plenty.

    • There are so much different shapes and different tastes.
      “Muntdrop” as shown above is the most famous licorice. “Boerderijdrop” and “Katjesdrop” are famous either. Most of the licorice is black and sweet or salt.
      Muntdorp is hard, but chewable and mostly sweet. Boerderijdrop is soft and sweet. Katjesdrop have a very strong taste of licorice which I don’t like.
      You can buy them in mixed tastes too, like honey, fruit, mint, etc.
      If you will be coming to the Netherlands, you should ask someone to help you buy different sort of licorice. Dont stop after the first one and you should start with the mixed licourice, to build up the flavours from poor to strong taste.
      Good luck

  5. I love them, but won’t eat them, cause it’s pretty addictive.
    If you take only one, then ‘ga je voor gaas’! Before you know it, the whole freaking jar is empty.

  6. As FDA warns, regardless of age, we should not eat large amounts of black licorice at one time. Anything too much is bad for our health after all.


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