Ideas for American treats to send to the Netherlands.
March 5, 2011 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Internet pal in Amsterdam says he likes American treats, and I was planning on sending him some as a surprise. Any suggestions on what I can get here that he won't be able to find there? I don't want to send a box of hostess cupcakes (for example) and then find out that they're extremely common over there.
posted by [insert clever name here] to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, if you're in the hostess cupcake mode: My Dutch friends (who'd lived in the U.S. for a few years) asked me to bring them Twinkies when I visited Amsterdam, because they couldn't find them over there, and their kids wanted to try the icon.
That was for the kids. The grownups missed Franks Hot Sauce.
posted by keener_sounds at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2011

I don't think they have Hostess cupcakes over there, or if they do, they're not common.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:08 AM on March 5, 2011

Certain candy flavors might be uncommon- peanut butter, cinnamon and grape are uncommon in UK candy, for instance.
posted by MadamM at 11:17 AM on March 5, 2011

Not sure if this helps, but my German friends always wanted Reese's peanut butter cups and Oreos because they can't find them in Germany. (Or at least couldn't as of a few years ago.)
posted by mandanza at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2011

Jolly Ranchers
Life Savers
Reese's peanut butter cups or Reese's Pieces
candy corn
classic peppermints
Mike & Ike
Hot Tamales
good pretzels
pretty much any Hostess-type treat

Don't bother with:
Mars bars
chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal cookies
chocolate- or yogurt-covered raisins or nuts
gummy bears, chewy peach rings (Haribo is widely available)
licorice (the NL has like 1000 varieties)
jelly beans (you can get Jelly Belly in the NL)
high-end chocolates (not much point with shops like Leonidas and Pucini Bomboni around)
posted by neushoorn at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Non-microwave popcorn, perhaps? I get the impression that, at least in the UK, popcorn is mainly available pre-popped or in microwave bags. Some unpopped kernels, maybe with a recipe for making them in a pan on the stovetop, might be fun. I found a set of three different colors/types (red kernels and blue kernels) at a local gourmet food store here that I gave to a host in France.

Similarly, cornbread mix might be interesting. I'm not sure whether it's common over there, but it's a fairly "colonial" food, and, after all, corn does come from the new world.
posted by amtho at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2011

Ask him to check Eichholtz deli on Leidsestraat first: it sells lots of expat treats, and there's no point in paying $20 postage for a $3 snack if he can get it in Amsterdam.
posted by holgate at 11:55 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about local treats from your area? For example, what food items do Americans from other areas get when they're there?
posted by shoyu at 11:59 AM on March 5, 2011

Real maple syrup and maple candy.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 12:10 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

nthing Peanut Butter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:59 PM on March 5, 2011

You really want an answer from someone who lives there, so start with neushoorn's list.

Other people's ideas of what we do or do not have in particular European countries tend to be weird and wrong. This is true even if they have been tourists in these countries. (Peanut butter has been both manufactured and very popular in the Netherlands for more than 100 years. Other suggestions made here are similarly mistaken.)
posted by DarlingBri at 1:15 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Reece's peanut butter cups used to be difficult/impossible to get hold of but you can now buy them in the UK, not sure about the Netherlands.
posted by ceri richard at 1:49 PM on March 5, 2011

Sorry, neushoorn's already covered it. I searched for Reece's not Reese's. Doh.
posted by ceri richard at 1:50 PM on March 5, 2011

You can now get Reese's and Oreos in Europe, so that might not be so special. I have a Brit friend who goes wild for Smartfood popcorn. Popcorn isn't that common in Europe, and cheesecorn is even rarer. Seconding hot sauces and maple syrup. You can get maple syrup, but it costs a fortune.
posted by amusebuche at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2011

Girl Scout cookies are currently in season. Tagalongs, samoas, thin mints....if I were overseas and my friend sent me that, we would then be best friends for forever.
posted by dogwalker at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

I moved to NL 6 months ago. Still trying to figure out some grocery store differences.

It depends on how you define "treats"? Do you just mean candy? I haven't seen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in NL. Or Velveeta for that matter. Sure, there's "macaroni and cheese" but it's some weird brand. Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs are in season in the US, but they don't seem to be available here. Try also Robin's Eggs and the Reese's easter goodies that, now that I think of, I really really miss. Good marshmallows and graham crackers are also not easy to come by. There are several Oreo varities here, but no Double Stuff. Mint chocolate chip gum is apparently an American-only thing.

One friend who visited brought me American magazines. And I'd kill for a west coast IPA, but I don't think you should try to ship that... More ideas to come after my Sunday grocery run.
posted by knile at 12:30 AM on March 6, 2011

Maple syrup isn't expensive in the Netherlands, but it can be quite hard to find. I've never seen maple syrup candy.

Definitely don't bother with peanut butter unless your friend is craving a specific brand/type. Peanut butter is widely available in many varieties. Same with hot sauce. (Siracha sauce and Tabasco sauce might be good ideas; I can't remember if I've seen them around or not. Apparently I spend a lot more time shopping for candy than for savoury stuff!)

You can't get Reese's or Peeps at the average Dutch grocery store. You might be able to find them, along with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, at an ex-pat grocery shop (where, of course, they'll be expensive). But British and Australian ex-pat stuff seems to be more popular than American.

A wide variety of Cadbury chocolate is available, but I don't think I've ever seen the Creme Eggs.

As knile points out, IPAs are harder to find here, although La Chouffe does make one (we get it at Mitra). But shipping beer can be a pain; it's heavy and there's always the risk of a bottle breaking.

Some other things I thought of:
Hershey's anything
Junior Mints, Sugar Babies -- basically most of the candies that come in those flat boxes
salt water taffy
Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, most other candy bars I didn't list in my previous comment
chocolate-covered pretzels
posted by neushoorn at 1:02 AM on March 6, 2011

The Dutch ADORE pindakaas (peanut butter), but I'm not sure if it's the same as American-style peanut butter (I am not a peanut butter expert). Then again, they invented spreadable speculaas here, so we're pretty good for spreads. You can find maple syrup here, but, again, it's expensive. My Canadian parents-in-common-law brought us some, and it was very much appreciated. I've seen quite a few expat delis selling American and British foods, along with the odd token jar of vegemite. You can find sriracha at most Surinamese grocers. Personally, I'd go with tabasco, tinned chipotle chillies in adobo sauce and maybe corn tortillas - you can never find them in stores, and, while every Surinamese grocer sells Pan cornmeal, I can't find a tortilla press for love nor money. Hostess cupcakes are also a good idea, but might get crushed in the mail.

It's also tough to find certain baking supplies - I'm still looking for a rimmed pie plate (NOT a tart tin), for instance, and it's hard to find measuring cups.

Oh! I also recall my favourite American food, when I lived there, were honey wheat thins. Can't find them anywhere.

You can find English-language magazines everywhere. The American Book Center is giant and very well stocked.
posted by nerdfish at 2:59 AM on March 6, 2011

Tabasco is definitely sold in the Netherlands, even my little supermarket around the corner sells it, so I wouldn't bother with that. Peanut butter is sold here too, but it's different than American peanut butter.

If you're going to send maple syrup, I'd check if the shipping costs aren't higher than the price difference: it is sold here in various types of stores. Maple candy is very hard to find, so that'd be a good idea.

nerdfish: what kind of corn tortillas are you looking for? Our AH supermarket sells the casa fiesta brand that has them these days.
posted by Ms. Next at 3:21 AM on March 6, 2011

Ms Next - I've only seen flour tortillas, of varying sizes, at AH. They're easy enough to make, but a PITA to roll out without a tortilla press.
posted by nerdfish at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2011

I would send Ginger Snaps, they are really good and hard to find.
posted by eau79 at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2011

You can get corn tortillas from I've only seen flour tortillas at AH.
posted by neushoorn at 8:10 AM on March 6, 2011

In response to other comments: Sriracha is easy to find at tokos in NL. Corn tortillas, I haven't seen. Ginger snaps aren't TOO different than kruidnoten. I would fully support a grey-market chipotles in adobo import operation.

Other things I know you can't find here: Tootsie Rolls, Twizzlers.
posted by knile at 8:13 AM on March 6, 2011

We sent marshmallow Fluff (as in fluffernutters) to the UK.
posted by Breav at 8:28 AM on March 6, 2011

Not exactly on topic, but just in case your friends don't know, there's a US/UK speciality import food shop on the Leidsestraat, just north of the Leidseplein, I think near the Prinsengracht.

Also, more on topic, be careful to wrap maple syrup well if you ship it. Something about its viscosity, the way it's packed and changes in air pressure can make a big mess.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:03 AM on March 6, 2011

Final thought, I swear: My Dutch officemates met Hershey's Hugs this week.
Officemate: Why are they called Hugs?
knile: They're like Kisses, but they're hugged in white chocolate!
Officemate: They're like what?
knile: oohhh...

So send your friend some Hugs, like a friend did for me!
posted by knile at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2011

Will you let us know what you ended up sending?

For future reference, about the corn tortillas: I guess from the above you can deduct that at the very last they are hard to find (and yeah, a pain to make without the right equipment!). But for the fellow Dutch mefites: I'm sure I've seen them in Dutch supermarkets, though probably just in the very large ones, and I'm doubting the brand now (casa fiesta has them on their website, but not on the Dutch site). Anyway, I hope I'll see them again!
posted by Ms. Next at 7:19 AM on March 12, 2011

Getting a bit too off topic now, but as soon as I hit 'post' I realised where I'd bought them: the Albert Heijn webstore!
posted by Ms. Next at 7:23 AM on March 12, 2011

The maple syrup that is available in Europe is the dark, low quality stuff. I doubt you could get Grade A Light Amber or Vermont Fancy Grade for any price in Europe.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 1:21 PM on March 23, 2011

Sure you can. I regularly bought Vermont maple syrup in London and have seen it here in Cork as well.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:11 PM on March 23, 2011

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