Negro Kisses

The Dutch hang on to their politically suicidal confectionary names. They bring you Gypsy Sauce, Jew Cookies and... the Negro Kiss!

You’re at a tea party. You already feel fairly uncomfortable. Why can’t they just call it a ‘gathering’?! you ruminate. You’re handed a box containing neatly stacked teabags. You bite off the insides of your cheeks. How could this get any worse?

Femke pulls out a tray of chocolates. You thrust your cup up into your face. The teabag flops against your forehead. Damn, no tea… you reach for the teapot, but just as you are about to pour its contents onto your face to escape this living nightmare, Femke leans over. ‘Would you like some Negro Kiss?’

You spit out the blood that has collected in your mouth into the teapot. Wait…what the fascist?

Negro Kiss. It’s the name of a popular chocolate-coated marshmallow biscuit: Negerzoenen, in Dutch. Why ‘Negro Kiss’, you ask? Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. It’s because, according to Dutch tradition, when you eat chocolate, your lips turn brown, and so when you give someone a kiss, it is as if you are (again, according to Dutch tradition) giving a ‘Negro Kiss’. This isn’t just un-PC. This is anti-PC. This is Trojan territory!

Negerzoenen has been around since the mid-twentieth century, and not just in the Netherlands: they’re also popular in the United Kingdom, Germany, Flanders, France, and Finland. However, the ‘Negro Kiss’ companies have now changed their names to the (less-offensive but equally unclear) name of ‘Kisses’ in all of the aforementioned regions… except Flanders and, until just eight years ago, the Netherlands!

The chauvinistic cringe-crusade does not end there, however. Oh, no. There are yet more politically suicidal confectionary names that the Dutch still hang on to, such as Gypsy Sauce (Zigeunersaus) and Jew Cookies (Jodenkoeken). Gypsy Sauce can also be found in Germany; Jew Cookies, however, cannot.

The Jodenkoek derives its name from a mixture of ancient stereotypes (the cookies are ‘cheap’ to make…) and the legend of a baker in Amsterdam, whose last name happened to be ‘de Joode’, who then sold their recipe to a bakery in Enkhuizen. In the U.K., these cookies are called ‘Dutch Cookies’ to avoid falling into racial slurs, which, given the stigma of stinginess typically applied to the Dutch and the history of the ‘cheap’ construction of the cookie, is just as unfair (and ironic).

Meanwhile, in Flanders, the choco-chunks are still called ‘Negerinnetetten’ in many areas… there are no prizes for those that can guess the meaning of this ghastly brand name without researching it…