Dutch Quirk #33: Have a national brand of mints

No, we don't want your chalk.

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #33: Have a national brand of mints

Are Wilhelmina pepermunts a token of Dutch heritage, or a disastrously large block of chalk?

Now, we don’t mean to start a controversy here, but it is near unfathomable to us that any person in their right mind actually enjoys the “royal freshness” of this Wilhelmina mint nonsense.

We get almost enraged upon receiving one of these deceivingly horrible palate cleansers at the end of a meal, and there are a few somewhat rash and likely exaggerated reasons for that. 

What is it?

Simple: Wilhelmina mints are a Dutch type of mint made by a brand called Fortuin. They were created in 1892 as a tribute to Princess Wilhelmina, who turned twelve years old that year.

In our humble, international opinion, they have about the texture of chalk and a taste that really just screams, “We haven’t touched the recipe since 1892”.

But let us tell you, Dutchies love them — so much so that they insist on handing them out everywhere, to everyone, ALL. THE. TIME.

Why do they do it?

Now, we are sure most of us have graciously attempted to make our way through one of these enormous mints, only to be caught spitting out that seemingly never-ending block of chalk. So it’s hard to answer this question.

The only logical explanation? The Dutch like to refresh their breath after devouring a lekker portion of pickled herring, for example.

READ MORE | 7 Dutch foods you need to try before you die

Makes sense. But why not just chew a nice, soft piece of gum?

Quite frankly, we don’t even think Wilhelmina herself would be too happy with all of this…

Why is it quirky? 

Well, they’ve named their national brand of mints after a royal. Mind you, from what we’ve gathered about this Wilhelmina lady—she was anything but your standard royal.

The former Queen of the Netherlands was the longest-reigning monarch and saw the country through both WWI and WWII.  

Wilhelmina was thrust into power at a mere 10 years old after the death of her father, although her mother carried out the Queen’s duties until her 18th birthday.

picture-of-a-Queen-Wilhelmina-statue-in-The Hague
An unshapely statue of Queen Wilhelmina in The Hague, with engravings of the ominous title of her autobiography, “Eeenzam maar niet alleen”, in the background. Image: Depositphotos

This might just be the reason she ended up giving her autobiography the chilling title “Eenzaam, maar niet alleen,” or “lonely, but not alone.” Or maybe that was because of her unfaithful husband. 🤔

So, really, it seems like Nederlanders love this chalky mint, not necessarily for its taste but because it’s a token of their heritage!

Should you join in?

Many people don’t like Wilhelmina mints: They’re simply too big and too chalky.

That said, they are vegan, claim to be sustainably packaged, and are probably the classiest mint you’ll ever see, sporting the portrait of a literal Queen.

So despite our whining, you should try them out for yourselves! Who knows, you may very well enjoy yourself a bit of chalk. 😉

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Do you agree? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Mr.Nostalgic/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Caitlin Elston-Weidinger 🇩🇪🇺🇸
Caitlin Elston-Weidinger 🇩🇪🇺🇸
Though Caitlin was born in Berlin, she was raised between the beaches of Florida and mountainous Oregon but has opted for a university career in the cosy Netherlands. Four years into her Dutch journey, you’ll find Caitlin ranting about politics, upcycling jewellery for her online store, or roaming around with her analogue camera.


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