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Those who’ve lived in the Netherlands, even if only for a short period of time, will likely know them well – those iconic Dutch brands and product names, including Febo, Conimex and Duo Penotti, which are ubiquitous in the small, densely populated nation. Surprisingly, many are not merely the result of a clever marketing campaign, but instead boast a colourful history all of their own!
What’s in a name – the origins of some of the most famous Dutch brands & products
Take a stroll through the bustling streets of Amsterdam and sooner or later you’ll stumble upon a FEBO – the quintessential Amsterdam snack bar where you can still purchase a traditional kroket or frikandel ‘uit de muur’ (from coin operated hatches in the wall). The name Febo might sound incredibly catchy, yet it is in fact the abbreviation of Ferdinand Bolstraat – a well-known street in the ‘De Pijp’ district of Amsterdam that’s just a stone’s throw from the famous Albert Cuyp Market.
Other Dutch brands and product names are an abbreviation of a phrase that reflects a particular feature, mission or vision of the company concerned. For example, the typical Dutch ontbijtpap (breakfast porridge), Brinta, is short for ‘Breakfast Instant Wheat’, well-known brand, Conimex, for ‘Conserven Import en Export’ (Import and Export Preserves), and Dutch supermarket chain, SPAR, for ‘Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig’ (Through United Collaboration Everyone Regularly Benefits). And Duo Penotti suddenly sounds much less Italian and far more Dutch when you discover that Penotti is actually an abbreviation of ‘Peeters Noten Industrie’ (Peter’s Nut Industry)!
Word plays and eponyms
Of course, not all Dutch brand names stem from abbreviations; some are a play on words, such as Karvan Cévitam, which is synonymous with ‘een karavaan met vitamine C’ (literally, a convoy of vitamin C). Other popular Dutch brands and products are named after the founder of the company, including Heineken (named after Gerard Adriaan Heineken), Verkade (named after Ericus Gerhardus Verkade) and Droste (named after Gerardus Johannes Droste). Regardless, it seems that behind many of the best-loved brands and products in the Netherlands, lies a fascinating piece of Dutch history just waiting to be discovered!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.