What is a “broodje aap verhaal”? The Dutch expression you didn’t know you needed

Do you have Dutch grandparents? Or had a Dutch nanny? Then maybe you were presented with a broodje aap verhaal as a kid. Or maybe your Dutchie friend fooled you with one recently — without you realising!

So, what exactly is this broodje aap verhaal?

Monkey-sandwich story?

Yup, you heard that right! Broodje aap verhaal literally translates to “monkey-sandwich story.” But don’t fear, your oma, nanny, or that funny friend didn’t feed you monkey sandwiches. 😉

A better (or at least more accurate) translation is probably an old-wives tale or urban legend.

But why?

If a broodje aap verhaal really means an old-wives tale, why did the Dutch come up with “monkey sandwich story”? Trust us, we were a little lost at first, too.

However, like with many other quirky Dutch words or expressions (some of which aren’t even translatable!), we need to understand the origin of the term broodje aap verhaal to understand the translation.

The phrase originates from a, well, kinda gross (but thankfully untrue) story.

Once upon a time, a truck was entering a hot dog factory when it collided with another truck. The back doors of the first truck opened in the collision, and a decapitated, skinned corpse fell on the street. Panic!

But, a plot twist: it wasn’t a human corpse that fell on the street. Instead, police found it was the body of a gorilla. The hot dog factory was investigated and discovered to be filled with monkey and bear bodies that had been bought cheap.

Um…hot dog anyone? 🌭🤢

So, the Dutch term for an old-wives tale essentially comes from a famous old-wives tale! It seems that the original broodje aap verhaal was meant to put children off junk food — served up as a sandwich probably wasn’t how they’d envisioned getting a monkey with their Happy Meal.

READ MORE | 9 Ye Olde Dutch words (that we should totally use again)

There are many more peculiar Dutch broodje aap verhalen floating around but we’re hardly surprised that one of the most famous ones has to do with bread. It is the Netherlands, after all. 😆

Do you know any broodje-aap verhaalen? Or were you ever fooled by one? Tell us in the comments below!

This article was originally published in June 2021, and was fully updated in October 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

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