The Netherlands has an addictive nature. Tourists often have this small but mighty country on their “must visit” list. “Dutch addictions”, defined by me as things the rest of the world cannot help but love, may be real or perceived. I have chosen to make a case for five as true Dutch Addictions.
Addiction Number 1: Cheese
This is your brain. This is your brain on cheese. You may think 17 million Netherlanders can’t be wrong. Who around the world doesn’t love a slice (or 10) of Gouda or Edam? Apparently, one of the Netherlands largest exports is putting a death grip on the world. I assume that means happiness and high cholesterol?
In 2016, the Netherlands exported $3.3 billion in cheese, or 12.4 percent of total exports. Is cheese really an addiction? Some research says yes! It has opiate-like molecules built into it, as Forbes.com reports. These casomorphins exist in all dairy fat.
So does that mean milk is addictive? Come on! What’s next, Cheese Anonymous? Snopes.com however debunks cheese itself as an addiction.
USDA recommends only 1.5 oz of cheese a day max. That’s not happening. Wait, maybe I am a cheese crackhead. Twelve-step program, here I come! I’m off to an addiction safe house for Gouda on bread. It’s provided by the government from illegal cheese busts. Yum! I hope there’s wine too.
Addiction Number 2: Windmills
The Dutch built windmills for practical use to crush corn and reclaim the land starting circa 1200. Windmills are often first on minds around the world when Holland enters a conversation. Why are windmills a Dutch addiction?
It could be the romantic history of windmills claiming much of their country from the seas. Windmills also were used as signals by positioning their sails to broadcast events and news, and decorated for events.
For the rest of the world, just looking at a windmill picture in a colorful tulip field seems to hypnotize them. Windmill paintings, art, posters and yard models are available for purchase almost everywhere. Tourists visiting Holland stand ready with a camera (sometimes for days) pleading for the sun to shine for that perfect picture. Whatever the psychological reasons, Dutch addictions to the world include the majestic windmill.
Addiction Number 3: Clogs
Another practical item turned into a Dutch addiction to the world are wooden shoes. To the Netherlands, clogs are like rubber boots. A waterproof garden and farming shoe. They have been around since medieval times. The rest of the world doesn’t flock anywhere for rubber boots, but they do flock to the Netherlands to buy uncomfortable wooden shoes. 3 million are made a year, most going to tourists whether beautifully painted clogs, clog slippers, plain or custom clogs. When tourists buy a pair, they smile like a drug addict with a fix. Maybe they are addictive.
Addiction Number 4: Stroopwafels
As a child in the USA I often had waffles with maple syrup. I liked them well enough. Stroopwafels however are not just portable and ready to eat. They seem to have some secret addictive ingredient. These syrup waffles might follow you on car trips, picnics, in lunches and to the TV. In the USA you can drive a thousand miles and not find a bitterballen or pannekoeken, but Stroopwafels are everywhere in stores.
As reported by Bakeryandsnacks.com, Dutch baker Daelmans alone produces several million a day in his bakeries in 30 countries. Add in other stroopwafel makers worldwide, and it is billions a year produced. Sounds like an addiction to me! This DutchReview article agrees, and will tell you all about stroopwafels.
Addiction Number 5: Heineken
There are many beer brewers, but Dutch Heineken has been making beer since 1864. When I visited the Netherlands, my wife’s local Dutch relatives would all point out the Heineken Brewery from the train, every time. It began to stick in my brain. Heineken! Back in the states, green glass bottles became fascinating. Heineken would catch my eye first in the market. The green bottle with a red star. Six showed up in my refrigerator. I was part of the Dutch master plan!
All kidding aside, alcohol is obviously addicting to some. Although the Chief Commerce Officer of Heineken a few years back touted the health values of beer (less calories than milk, and it’s one of few natural drinks), he stressed moderation, of course. Not that I need another excuse to have an occasional beer. Nevertheless, in 2011 Heineken produced 2.74 billion litres of beer in the Zoeterwoude brewery for shipment to 170 countries. That’s a lot of “health” drinks! 16.46 billion litres from all 160 of their beer brands shipped worldwide.
So Heineken by sheer numbers and alcohol content is a “Dutch addiction” to the world. It’s popular beer, and we must face facts, James Bond in “Skyfall” drinks it!
It’s clear the Netherlands is sending out addicting tentacles to please the world. I believe I am attracted to most of the five Dutch addictions. Blame the Netherlands when they kill me. It won’t be pretty as I trip in my clogs, distracted by my cholesterol report, as I choke on my cheese covered stroopwafel, crash into a cheap copy of a Van Gogh windmill painting, and impale myself on my Heineken bottle.
At least I will die happy. Tulips will be on my grave.
What other “Dutch addictions” have spread around the world? Share with us in the comments!