Placed alongside Halloween candies, they’ve competed for our attention in the supermarket aisles for a month. 👀 However, with the spooky holiday over, we’re now one step closer to Sinterklaas… meaning it’s officially pepernoten season!
While Sinterklaas is a somewhat (read: very) controversial holiday due to the presence of his helper Zwarte Piet, one thing appreciated by Dutchies and internationals alike are the treats that Sint and Piet bring with them — pepernoten.
Okay, okay — before you come at us — technically we’re talking about kruidnoten here but pepernoten is a more frequently used term to describe these delicious Dutch treats — and we’ll explain the difference below. 😚
What is it?
Pepernoten are soft irregularly shaped biscuits. They’re made from rye flour but have a sweet honey flavour, spiced up with anise.
If this sounds unfamiliar it’s probably because many people (including Dutchies!) say that they’re eating pepernoten though they’re technically stuffing their face with kruidnoten.
So what are kruidnoten then? Kruidnoten are crunchy, dome-shaped biscuits that’ll instantly bring Christmas to your tongue. 😍 They’re made from wheat flour and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and white pepper.
Kruidnoten also come in many different flavour variants (just visit a Van Delft store and you’ll be amazed!). You can even find them coated in chocolate — lekker!
Why do they do it?
Kruidnoten are a typical treat related to the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas, so eating them simply goes hand-in-hand with the holiday season in the Netherlands.
In fact, pepernoten have been part of the Sinterklaas tradition since the 16th-century. Then, when the Netherlands started importing more spices in the 19th-century, the kruidnoot saw the light of day. From then on, it was also kruidnoten that were thrown during Sinterklaas parades.
So, why? Well, tradition. Plus, they’re outright delicious!
Why is it quirky?
If they’d only eat them around Sinterklaas (December 5) it wouldn’t be so quirky. However, pepernoten and especially kruidnoten make their appearance in Albert Heijn as early as September — echt!
It’s every Dutchies dilemma: do they buy the first bag of kruidnoten once the urge kicks in along with the worsened weather of October — or do they hold off until at least November?
From our experience, the former usually wins and you’ll find everyone stuffing their faces with kruidnoten months before the holidays.
Should you join in?
Whatever your feelings are about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, everyone can get onboard with pepernoten and kruidnoten.
After living some time in the Netherlands, you’ll likely even be facing the same dilemma as the Dutch: to buy or not to buy kruidnoten in October.
What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: sannie32/Depositphotos