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The majority of Dutch emigrants simply cannot survive without a daily serving of Calvé peanut butter. Indeed, foreign friends are often puzzled about their seemingly insatiable appetite for what, on the surface at least, appears to be a very ordinary peanut butter. Yet those who sample Calvé peanut butter for themselves, soon realise that the rich and creamy flavour of this famous Dutch brand just cannot be beaten. And for the Dutch, especially those living abroad, Calvé peanut butter not only tastes like home, it also evokes fond memories of yesteryear, a sentiment encouraged by the brand’s hugely successful TV advertising campaign of the last 30 years.
The origins of Calvé peanut butter
The history of Calvé peanut butter began in 1883, when owner of the Yeast and Spirit Factory, Jacques van Marken, founded the ‘Nederlandsche Oliefabriek’ (Dutch Oil Factory) or ‘NOF’, in Delft. The NOF became particularly known for its popular Delft Salad Oil, however the company also produced a variety of other products, including sauces, margarines and tomato ketchup. In 1897 NOF merged with a French business owned by brothers, Emmanuel and Georges Calvé, and the company name was changed to ‘Nederlandsche Oliefabrieken (NOF) Calvé-Delft’. After a subsequent takeover by Unilever in 1928, the newly formed subsidiary was renamed Calvé Delft.
The production of Calvé peanut butter finally started in 1948, and quickly became a resounding success. In the Dutch city of Delft itself the nut spread enjoyed both fame and notoriety, as those living in the vicinity of the factory were exposed to an all-pervasive smell of peanut butter. In 2008, the Calvé Delft factory eventually closed and the manufacture of Calvé peanut butter moved to the Blue Band Factory in Rotterdam, whilst production of Calvé sauces was transferred to Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.
Calvé peanut butter TV commercials
The enduring popularity of Calvé peanut butter cannot purely be put down to its superior flavour, and is partly thanks to the countless Calvé television commercials on Dutch TV over the years. The first TV advertisement, which arguably put Calvé peanut butter on the map, was “Petje Pitamientje” in 1983. It was followed four years later by a commercial featuring Evert van Benthem, which cleverly implied that this celebrated ice skater who won the coveted Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour) twice in a row, owed his triumphs to Calvé peanut butter. A number of other Dutch athletes made appearances in Calvé peanut butter TV commercials too, including former Tour de France winner, Joop Zoetemelk (1987), Olympic swimming champion, Pieter van de Hoogenband (2010), and Dutch footballer, Robin van Persie (2014). Three Calvé peanut butter commercials, namely “Goal” (1998), “Voetballertje” (2002) and the aforementioned “Pietertje” (2010), also won the Gouden Loeki – an annual TV award for best commercial presented by STER (Foundation for the Broadcasting of Advertisements). Calvé TV ads invariably end with one of its famous slogans, such as “Calvé Pindakaas is de enige échte pindakaas. En dat proef je meteen!” (Calvé Peanut butter is the one and only peanut butter. And you can taste it!”), “Calvé pindakaas, wie is er niet groot mee geworden!” (Calvé peanut butter – who didn’t grow up big and strong on it!), and “Hoe groot wil je worden?” (How big do you want to be?).
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, which is specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.