Typical Dutch Things
Often during the holiday season, I hear Internationals asking what are some “Typical Dutch Things” which they could bring/send home to their families as gifts. Of course shipping is very expensive and suitcase space is limited so items tend to me small and light weight. So I’m not talking things like bicycles! Usual replies include drop licorices, bathroom birthday calendars, stroopwaffels, hagelslag, clog slippers, speculaas, Wilhelmina Peppermints and cheese are the most popular items but another one that gets a LOT of suggestions is the “Flessenlikker”.
The flessenlikker also called flessenschraper (roughly translated to “bottle- licker“) is an ingenious, yet very simple, kitchen tool that I only just bought after living here in the Netherlands for nearly 3 years! I knew about it but never actually got around to getting one until last week to be put into the Sint grab game.
How does it work?
Just as its name implies, it is used to scrape foods from insides of jars and pots – think peanut butter, Nutella, apple sauce, jams, mustard and of course MAYONNAISE – remember the Dutch LOVE their mayonnaise! 🙂 Without it, bits of mayonnaise or other sauces or condiments stuck to their jars or bottles inevitably end up being rinsed down the drain or thrown into the recycling bin – WASTED! The flessenlikker’s design allows it to get at food that a flat knife or spoon cannot remove.
Here is a funny video of Internationals being shown one – and they have to try and guess what the item is.
With this much thrift and cleanliness, it can only be a Dutch invention!
Actually – the tool was created in Norway, it never quite took off there. It is cited as a quintessentially Dutch tool, as well as, an example of “Dutch thrift”. In the Netherlands, it was first primarily for vla, a thin, custard-like dessert. Back in the early 1900s, it was sold in glass bottles. And when you got to the bottom of the bottle, you wanted every last drop.
Is the flessenlikker still so popular?
Yes and no. Nowadays not every Dutch person owns one. But it used to be in every household. Most people would still recognise it, but you won’t find it everywhere. I actually had one Dutch person say to me they didn’t know what it was….and two say they didn’t have one at home. Wonder if they’ll get one now?
So when you’re looking for a “Typical Dutch Thing” to give as a gift – consider adding a flessenlikker to it. I’m sure your family & friends would get a kick out of this invention. HEMA has them for only €2! On my next trip back home, I’m bringing some with me! 🙂
So far, I’ve used my flessenslikker only once for peanut butter – but I am certain my €2 was well-spent. Next time, I’ll enlist the kids to help me scrape. And of course, if I end up with something else unique and typically Dutch, I’ll share it. For the record, we don’t own a bathroom calendar – only because I’ve yet to find one that I really like, but I do want one.