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The history of Bolletje

“Ik wil Bolletje!” (I want Bolletje!) goes the well-known advertising slogan from Bolletje – arguably the most famous bakery in the Netherlands, which manufactures a fine range of beschuit (rusk-like biscuits), rye breads and crisp breads. And, although their simple yet effective catch phrase stems from 1950’s fifties, Bolletje products were extraordinarily popular in the Netherlands long before that.

Almelo, the birth place of Bolletje

the history of BolletjeThe fascinating story of Bolletje began in 1867, when Dutch baker, Gerard ter Beek, opened a bakery in Grotestraat-Zuid in Almelo. In the beginning, the bakery mainly produced beschuit and bread, but the company grew rapidly, and by the 1930’s, it employed five sons, two daughters and dozens of additional staff. It was only after the Second World War, however, that the company began specialising in beschuit. They opened a beschuit factory on Turfkade in Almelo in 1954, and launched their A-brand Bolletje, which was heavily promoted in a nationwide advertising campaign. It was around this time that their enduring slogan, “Ik wil Bolletje!” first emerged.

Acquisitions and expansions

The savvy Bolletje bakers quickly realised that the company wouldn’t have much of a future if they only continued to manufacture beschuit. For this very reason they started a collaboration with savoury snack producer, Bachman Bakeries, in 1962, adding rye breads to their assortment in 1967. During the seventies and eighties there was a succession of acquisitions of both smaller and larger bakeries, allowing Bolletje to further expand their product range so that it now included biscuits, cakes and ontbijtkoek (Dutch breakfast cake). Bolletje went from strength to strength, culminating in a brand awareness of 98% nationwide, an extremely rare feat for a Dutch company.

Until last year, Bolletje was owned by direct descendants of founder, Gerard ter Beek. In April 2013, however, Bolletje was sold to German baker, Borggreve, which is located just across the Dutch-German border in the town of Neuenhaus, and also specialises in beschuit and biscuits. Luckily Dutch employees and Dutch consumers alike, can still chant their heart-warming slogan, “Ik wil Bolletje!”, as for them virtually nothing has changed, and Bolletje continues to produce the same range of delicious Dutch bakery products as before!

Bolletje facts:

  • The Bolletje brand name comes from the round balls of dough used to prepare beschuit.
  • The very first Bolletje bakery in Grotestraat-Zuid in Almelo still exists today, and is now the location of the celebrated Bolletje Shop & Coffee Parlour Anno 1867, and the Bakery Museum, “De Meelzolder” (the Flour Loft).

Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?

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