The Horrors of Dutch Drop (Liquorice)

There is something slightly sadistic about Dutch drop (otherwise known as liquorice or licorice depending on where you are from). If you’ve never experienced its unique taste it can look quite innocent. After all, what reason would you have to suspect that it would taste any different from the liquorice you are familiar with in your own country. But this is why Dutch drop is evil. It subtlety lulls you into a false sense of security that it might taste quite nice.

And maybe, just maybe, you get lucky. Maybe you get one of the nice flavours of Dutch Drop… But probably not, because when you encounter it for the first time it’s probably because you’ve just been offered one of the more ‘popular’ flavours by a Dutch person.

For a brief moment, just before the flavour hits you, you might notice the slightly odd way the Dutch person seems to be ‘observing’ you, the way they seem to be studying your every expression as if they are planning to take scientific notes. By the time you realize this means something is wrong it is already too late.

Suddenly the taste takes hold…

Everything in your being tells you that this taste is wrong. That it should not be. What mad man would have created such a thing? Your taste buds cry out in objection or fear (or both) as the taste spreads father around your mouth. Suddenly you just want it to end, for the flavour to go away. But even when you spit out the Dutch drop the flavour still remains. It won’t go away. Will it ever go away? Why is this happening? Why? Oh god why?

Suddenly you realize with horror that this was done to you on purpose. You were offered this god forsaken taste for the amusement of the Dutch person sitting across from you. They wanted to see your reaction to it. They knew you would not be able to handle it. No foreigner can. Perhaps the fact that they started filming you with their phone should have been a warning. The Dutch can be sadistic sometimes too.

Taste – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Taste wise the salty Dutch drop is one of the worst offenders. It has a very extreme taste. In fact, it is as if the makers of salty Dutch drop had a bet to see how much salt they could add to the recipe before someone died (and then reduced it only slightly when someone finally did). They are probably the same people who thought mint and salt would make a good liquorice combination too.

It is true that there are some nice tasting versions of the strange Dutch candy (I know this because my Dutch wife once forced it upon me to make a point). Drop comes in many varieties. There is hard drop, soft drop, chewy drop, sweet drop, salty drop, powered drop, Engelse drop (English), honingdrop (honey), muntdrop (mint) and much more. However, this only makes things worse. If there was only the extreme tasting drop like Dubbel Zout (double salt) expats would only be caught out the once and know to stay away forever. However, since there is nice tasting drop out there it creates false hope that the little black sweet you are about to put in your mouth might be ok. It might be one of the nice ones. Then before you know it you’ve let your guard down and… *BAM* You’ve been caught out again!

Dutch Drop in Disguise

Perhaps this is also why the Dutch have attempted to make drop look more friendly by disguising it in a variety of shapes from simple squares, circles and diamonds to coins, windmills, cats, little cars, bee hives and beyond. Anything to make them look more ‘fun’ and less like committing taste bud suicide.

And as if to disguise them even further the makers of Dutch Drop will often mix their product in with a bag of other sweets. Many expats and tourists have been caught out by this when they were buying what they thought was an innocent bag of wine gums. Usually they solve this problem by only eating the wine gums and then ‘giving’ the remaining bag of drop to their partner (as I often do with my wife).

Maybe this is why the Dutch took it one step farther. Wine gum and liquorice combined!! Half drop! Half wine gum! The Frankenstein’s monster of the confectionery world.

Dutch Fruit Drop Duo

This has not deterred those desperate for wine gums from only eating half of each sweet. However, this is very risky as it brings with it a high risk of ‘contamination’. Plus, your partner will appreciate it even less when you try to give them the bag of leftovers.

A Final Warning

So, in closing, always approach Dutch drop with caution. Always identify the type of drop before putting it in your mouth. Always avoid anything with the word ‘zout’ in the title. Only accept drop from trusted family and friends (after you have done a full background check on them).

And finally, never, ever accept drop from a grinning Dutch person. It’s a trap.

Just The Facts

1) The Dutch consume more licorice per year (2000 grams each) than any other country in the world.
2) The Netherlands produces more licorice than any other European country.
3) There are over 80 variations of Dutch licorice.
4) Some variations are flavored with Ammonium Chloride which is also used as cough medicine.

68 responses to “The Horrors of Dutch Drop (Liquorice)”

  1. Joke (yes, I know) says:

    Did you know that sweet drop containes more salt than salt drop?

    And eating drop is not without healthrisks: http://www.kennislink.nl/publicaties/voorzichtig-met-drop

    • Invader_Stu says:

      I did not know that. And the health risk thing makes it even stranger that they sell the stuff in the chemist.

      • Pete says:

        I was born in Holland and immigrated to the states when I was 7. Drop was a staple so I love it especially the DZ type. It actually has healing properties, sore throats, coughs, congestion in your lungs. It will help heal of those symptoms as well as prevent them with just a few of them a day. I learned this the hard way when I was 12. for XMAS we got a care package from my uncle & aunt. I received a large cone of drop just for me. Yummy, so yummy in fact I ate the whole thing in two days. 6 weeks of hospital stay later the Doctor said I had crystalization of the kidnyes (sp) they could figure out what had caused it or how to fix it. I had 8 Barium Xrays of my guts, Think drinking nuclear pink chalk milkshakes and then getting spun upside down. Yeah it sucked. So I asked my mom doesn’t Drop have a lot of salt crystals in it? The doc said what is he talking about? So she explained it, Then I told her I ate the whole bag in 2 days. Face Palm! I was back home in two days. They took me off the saline drip finaly which made it worse. Duh. LOL So now I am very conservative and moderate about how much I eat. Funny article though. I feel the same way about Grits and Okra, god awful stuff.

  2. Sarah Turley says:

    Not to mention salmiak. Especially the lollipops. You think you’re getting cola and – bam! Evil.

  3. Cris Winegar says:

    My mother is from the Netherlands and she always gave us little salt dropjes so I grew up with it. My friends on the other hand thought I was crazy to eat such a thing. Now I live in The Netherlands and have limited access.. my current favorite is zwart wit pastilles.

    Love reading your blog :)

  4. Matthew the Cook says:

    Thanks mate,

    had a good laugh reading this.

    Maybe because I do the same thing when i meet someone who isn’t a Dutch person that never had drop. Mhuhaha

    First thing I thought about was this poster when i read the last few words.

    http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-wait-its-a-trap/

    It describe’s the expression on the unsuspecting victims face perfectly.

    Ow also found this little gem.

    How to make your own dropbier.

    Enjoy!!!

  5. iooryz says:

    you’d better learn to appreciate it, if you want to stay as our king…

    • Invader_Stu says:

      Is that a threat? :s

      • iooryz says:

        How about the truth ;)
        But all joking aside, If you don’t like drop, you haven’t tried enough different types of drop. It’s available in almost all flavours and kinds. (you know there are drop shops, where you can buy about 50 kinds of drop?)

  6. Nico Veenman says:

    Don’t believe this silly story above. Everyday I eat a handful of the famous boerderijdrop made by mister Venco. It’s great and everybody thinks that I’m still quite normal. I’m the only one who knows that I never was normal. In fact I was abnormal by birth. Now you can see what this boerderijdrop has done with me: People now think that I’m normal.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Ocin Namneev

  7. I was curious enough to try drop during my last trip to the Netherlands and walked into a shop to try them. The salesclerk seemed only happy to oblige when I asked for the sweet and salty variety.

    Lucky, she didn’t try to trick me by only giving me salty drop and let me try both.

    I made the error/right choice of trying the salty one first because its powerful lingering aftertaste masked that of the sweet one, but that meant that I got over it fairly quickly. In all honesty, I found the salty drop to be okay.

    I am happy to report that the sweet licorice was much nicer than one I consume in France called Cachou Lajaunie. It is solely licorice-flavored and has no sweetness to it. According to my mother, its taste is reminiscent of dirt.

    I walked out of the shop with some of sweet drop.

  8. MissNeriss says:

    This is awesome. Switch Dutch for Australian and Drop for Vegemite and you have exactly the same thing! I love pulling the ol’ vegemite swindle on unsuspecting foreigners..!

    • Invader_Stu says:

      I must admit that I spent years thinking I would hate Vegemite until an Australian friend convinced/forced me to try it. Then I discovered I quite liked it.

  9. VallyP says:

    It’s dreadful stuff isn’t it, Stu? Thanks for the ‘guide’!

  10. suus says:

    I kinda like most drops, except.. Engelse drop. They just taste like candy. It’s not supposed to taste like candy you know.

  11. Andrew S.x.y.z. says:

    Haha, too funny about the facial reaction. I hate liquorice, but now you have my curiousity Stu, I must try when I am back in The Netherlands, hmm wonder if I can find them for sale in the U.S.A.

  12. dragonlady says:

    I’ve just realized I have tried drop. When we visited that island a few summers ago a Dutch man offered our group a sweet and I took it to be polite. I thought it tasted odd but it wasn’t to bad. I sucked for quite a while before I couldn’t take any more. No one in our group said anything except (when asked) oh its liquorice.

  13. raoel says:

    I’ve been following this blog for quite a while, it’s cuite amusing to see such “normal” things through the perspective of an englishman. Keep up the good work!

    Btw: muntdrop doesn’t translate to mint-drop, but munt means coin and mundrop is shaped like an coin. So it actually stranslates to coin-liquorice

  14. dragonlady says:

    raoel we have those in England, they are called pontifrat cakes, because they are made in pontifrat. They are really strong liquorice

  15. Twan says:

    I’m afraid it’s true. Dutch love “drop”. After having emigrated to Switzerland, it is one of the few things (together with “vla”) that I keep exporting every time I’m back “down” there.

  16. First thing on my list in Amsterdam: try a dutch drop. Hopefully avoid exploding.

  17. Andre says:

    Love the article!! :)

    As a Dutch guy with an international spouse, it is always a great pleasure to surprise my inlaws and friends with our typical Dutch treat; drop. Even my son of 5 starts to enjoy ‘trapping’ them.

  18. Kiki says:

    This is so hilarious! I am ever in an argument with my dutch husband “why don’t you have a taste today! You might like it today!”While he is offering me the candy!! NOOO for the millionth time i don’t want it! NO!
    ( don’t even trust dutch family members…even if you have done background check and they look squeaky clean!)

  19. Maria says:

    WHY do they eat that technical product???? I suppose it’s side product of producing tyres….

  20. Jeff says:

    Too funny. My parents and older brother are native NL’ers, I was imported and born in the US. Whenever family visited from Holland and brought us drop, I would cry when my friends insisted on trying the hard to come by treasure. They would immediately spit it out, and I would give them the “now don’t ever ask again” line. Now with the dutch import online retailers, I am able to get these whenever I want. And yes, my very American daughters and wife, immediately jump on the drop stash when it arrives. Of course they stick to the Kokindjes, Griotten, and Schoolkrijt. Hey, it’s a Dutch thing, the rest just wouldn’t understand! Thanks for the amusing story.

  21. David Skoll says:

    I’m from Canada, but I developed a taste for drop when I visited Amsterdam. I found a store in my town that sells the double-salted stuff… mmm….

    It’s the only candy I can buy that my kids won’t devour before I get any!

  22. Linda says:

    ThIs comes from Canada … my hubby and I worked in group home for awhile for “emotionally disturbed “children. One of the kids wanted to eat what we were enjoying … thinking it was just black licorice. His response upon eating it, ” What are you doing? Trying to poison me!!!” And out it came … we just smiled!

  23. Wilma Veldman says:

    I am of Dutch heritage but I do not like any droppies at all. I have never liked them; they taste nasty. I suppose because I am Dutch, no one has tried to get me to eat one and waited for a reaction!

  24. Yvonne Bennett says:

    I grew up with droppies as well and I love them, but I do know how they can be harmful to the body if eaten in excess. My favorite are the zwart/wit. My husband, on the other hand, hates them because I am that “Dutch” person who will hand them over with a big grin and watch people suffer. Our kids who are Canadian), love them and once a month I will take them to the dutch store in Edmonton. It is true that if eaten like a normal person, licorice does have health benefits, sore throats being the main one. I’ve heard though that unsalted, black licorice is good for you.

  25. I was born in Holland so was also brought up on dropjes.. My opoe had a little confectioners store and whenever I visited her, which was often, she would hand me a cute fancy little bag with a string through the top with dropjes and snoepjes, ohhh I loved visiting her. When we first immigrated to Canada you could not buy dropjes and I really missed them so tried to make do with twizzlers but somehow it missed the mark, I’ve since found lots of Dutch Dellies to make up for it.

  26. Jo Williams says:

    I don’t care what any one else I eat what I love I’m part Dutch. Dutch drops are my favorite especially DZ. As a child all I wanted from my grandparents was black DZ’s YUM I so miss them

  27. William Knooihuizen says:

    Salmiak, zwart en wit, DZ dropjes and Potters original are the best are my favorite. I am dutch grew up with these and still today 70 years later buy them all the time. But as they same everything in moderation.

  28. Ina says:

    Loved these till we found out we have Celiac. Now we have to hunt for gluten free ones, not so easy to find.

    • may be able to make your own using tapioca, rice flour, and xantham gum with licorice oil. i have gluten allergies and didnt know it had wheat until i read yalls comments. Doh!

  29. Kathleen says:

    Grew up in a Scottish Canadian farming community, so always loved black licorice.
    Went to a predominantly Christian Reformed (AKA Dutch Canadian) university, & was introduced to all the wonderful goodies. I think I did disappoint the first time I was given a drop, because I LIKE dark, strong black licorice. ;) I could always do the zouts, but I have to admit, it took to year 4 to be able to do the DZ’s, and I have lost that ability in the intervening 14 years. ;)
    I DO miss Wilhelminas and Hopjes, though.

  30. Pieternella says:

    I laughed my head of it us a great story for breakfast that’s when my daughter send me this . And it’s so true we love doing that to people and can’t stop laughing. I love the slight salty ones now that I am older but when I was younger I ate kilos if the salty drop I loved it it’s called. Heksendrop. It’s sugary on the outside clinging to the best part when you first get it in your mouth it taste sweet when you bite it you get to the best part. LOL Man that’s so good now they sell it in the sweet type too . But your bloodpresure will be affected. Lol
    Every time I am in Holland I get the drop because here the price is to much and the bag to little !!! Love this story cracked me up !
    Pieternella

  31. Sabine says:

    I am german but I love them too.
    And I am the only one in my family! Lol

  32. kate677 says:

    I, an American, like them! Come to find out a goodly number of my ancestors, unknown to us, were Dutch.

  33. robert smouter says:

    Robert smouter,was born in the Netherlands grew up with dropjes prefer DZ, however enjoy all kinds including the sweet ones,could have bought and paid my childrens mortgage with the amount I eat,should be well preserved,salt wise.

  34. Tony Bos says:

    I love dubbellsalted drop and I like waterwerken te most of all and still alive and very fit and healthy. In a few month 67 seven years young!!!

  35. Ann de Jager says:

    Ann de Jager says:
    January 13,2015,
    Oh boy, the zoute salmiakjes, I would eat them by the handfulls, they’re the best of all the licorice.

  36. Heather says:

    It happened to me in church – my dear friend (or who I thought) offered me a mint and I popped it in my mouth. She knew I did not like droppees but I didn’t know it was, I thought it was a mint. My eyes watered, my stomach churned and I thought I have got to get this out of my mouth quickly! No Kleenex to be found and the quiet chuckling of my dear friend could be heard in the distance of my distress. I think I am changed forever. Ps. I still love my friend – I just don’t trust her with candy!!!

  37. Frankie says:

    The Best stuff ever!

  38. I absolutely hate drop. Even as a child I’d eat the coconut from around Liquorice Allsorts (Engelse Drop) and chuck the liquorice in the bin!

    Next month I’m going on an Amsterdam food tour and drop is on the menu. I’m already scared!!

  39. Joe says:

    What you said is completely subjective. If I was in Holland I would definitely be a foreigner but I’ve had the Dutch drop many times and I love it! The dubbel zout is the most delicious sweet that I have eaten in my life!

  40. Donna says:

    My parents immigrated from Holland in the 60’s. I used to sell baggies of the little diamond shaped zout drop to other kids when I was in grade school, lol. People either love it or hate it. Also, the zout drop helps with sore throats, coughs and canker sores.

  41. […] Drop, liewe leser, is ‘n tipe liquorice wat deur een of ander siel met ekstra sout gemaak is. Die enigste konklusie wat ek kan indink oor die naam, is die aksie wat mens verrig wanneer jy dit die eerste keer… en tweede keer in jou mond plaas. (lees gerus die link vir verdere inligting oor die sadistiese produk) […]

  42. Erik says:

    This made me laugh! I am an American living in Texas, and first tasted salmiak or ammonium chloride licorice as a kid growing up overseas. I had a friend whose parents were Dutch, and who always had very strong salt licorice on hand. I have loved it from the very first piece, and used to ask my friend if he would PLEASE bring a few pieces to school for me! I am now 53, and have been thrilled by now being able to order it through the internet. Alas, I am gluten intolerant, so have to look very carefully for wheat-free brands. But for me, the more salmiak and salt the better. Truly, I am addicted to this stuff, but must ration quantities to just a few pieces a day. There’s just no accounting for personal taste! :)

  43. Chris says:

    I’m French and a liquorice addict. I eat all kinds of liquorice sweets you can find in, let’s say, Southern Europe. I regularly cross the Italian border to buy some sweets I cannot find in France. I tasted Dutch salty liquorice once after buyind a small quantity of it in one of our discount shops….I just loved it so I bought a 1kg bag. There’s a mix of different sweets, some are more salty than others but I love them all.
    The good thing is that no one around me likes that so the bag is all mine!

  44. louis says:

    I recall sharing salmiak licorice w/ kids when I was a kid and watching them spit it out usually immediately. Such a waste…
    Funny post.
    I agree, the saltier, and the more licorice, the better. I don’t care for all the sugar and stick-to-your-teeth stuff, as is found in double-zout, DZ. Some brands taste great. Some are mildly repulsive. The worst licorice I’ve tasted was at an airport in Iceland. The stuff made me feel sick. I saw a local in Charleston made his own “salty licorice” and tried to sell it for $10 a bag. It didn’t even have real Ammonium Chloride salt in it. Just regular table-salt. I was like, NO.
    When I was doing a lab experiment in college w/ my lab buddy, I tasted the Ammonium Chloride w/ my finger. My lab partner nearly flipped out! It wasn’t half bad. In fact, I’ve caught a few sharks, and their flesh has ammonia in it. It tastes good in sharks, and in licorice.

  45. Chris says:

    Thanks for the post.
    Salmiak licorice is so yummy. I discovered it in Frankfurt airport , bought a bag of Haribo Pirato and have been a fan ever since!
    Also tasted some great salty licorice in the netherlands.

  46. Jennifer says:

    Love Dutch liquorice, but I spent many years in NL. All my family now love it too. And it’s true – muntdrop is coin liquorice, not mint, and the best is made by Klene in my opinion. By the way, it’s nothing like Pontefract Cakes – they are a mere shadow of real liquorice.

  47. JJ says:

    Not all Dutch people like drop. The worst part is that it sticks to your teeth. Same as with stroopwafels another typically Dutch product Dutch people like to present with pride and scrutinize for your reaction. What are you supposed to say when you mouth is full of a sticky substance? I only like honingdrop when I have a sore throat. Or licorice tea (zoethout or sterrenmix). Have you tried?

  48. Not an uncultured swine says:

    you’re an uncultured swine.

  49. Pat says:

    I was born of Dutch parents and grew up with drop. All my children were fed it as babies and they all love it now too. I did have a whole lot of fun with my unsuspecting school friends though…..heehee…. Guess I’m one of those evil people too….lol

  50. Will says:

    Wow, now we as Dutch people are evil just because of our drop!!! I have been eating drop my whole life, I still order 2 to 3 kilo’s at the time, coin drop, farm drop and whatever I feel like. But eat it in moderation, like how they eat here in the US. For breakfast you go through the drive through and get a cheese burger, then for lunch, you again go through the drive through, and order a double cheese burger, then for dinner, you have again a double cheese burger, but this time you add on a bunch of french fries and of course don’t forget to load up the hamburger with bacon as well. To make it all justifiable, (because we know it’s not very healthy) we order a Cesar salad, and we do that every single day, we just switch from
    McDonald to Burger King to Jack in the box, bobs burger, taco bell, in and out burger, and before we know it really sneaks up on you, oh my God, I’m obese, I’m diabetic, I now have high cholesterol and my arteries are clogged up, but you know what, it’s not evil at all, it’s by choice that I choose to eat that way, because it’s in my face every single day, in magazines, on radio, on TV in the cinema, I cannot get around it, I have to eat it. Well, if I get sick I just go to the doctor and get it fixed, oh shit, I cannot afford health insurance, now what, maybe I just eat one of those evil Dutch droppies maybe that will make me feel better.

  51. Pino says:

    Try; Klene ovaaltjes.
    They are made with arabian gum.
    The very best!

  52. […] as we know it. The Dutch like their licorice, especially the salty kind. It’s an acquired taste I guess, but it’s one of the things that I long for from time to time, even though we have […]

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