The Unique History Behind The Dutch Word For Peanut Butter

Slathered on bread or stirred into sauces, peanut butter has been found in Dutch kitchens for over a century (via Dutch Language Blog). One of the top peanut consumers in the world, the Netherlands was the first European country to import peanuts and was the first to produce peanut butter, according to Cornhouse. To this day, according to CBI, the country remains the world's top peanut importer and is both the biggest producer and consumer of peanut butter throughout Europe. It comes as no surprise that the Dutch can be found packing peanut butter jars for road trips or making PB&Js in the office according to Dutch Review. In fact, there's even a Dutch card game depicting peanut scenes from farm to kitchen.

According to Aviation Analysis, spreadable peanut butter began to thrive after World War II, when French brothers began to batch and sell Calvé peanut butter. Rijnmond notes that prior to spreadable peanut butter, blocks of crushed peanuts were sliced and eaten. According to Around the Wherever, the Dutch name for peanut butter isn't exactly peanut butter, as the word "butter" is complicated.

Peanut butter isn't really butter

As explained in Dubble Dutch, the infrequently-used Dutch word for butter is "roomboter" (meaning: cream butter), but "echte boter," the words for "real butter," is often used by companies trying to sell more expensive products. "Boter," the word more commonly heard in Dutch markets, typically designates margarine.

Jon Krampner, author of Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food, points out that Dutch dairy farmers formed a united front, insisting the word "butter" only be used for actual butter; peanut butter did not qualify. As a result, Dutch peanut butter is called "pindakaas," which can be translated as "peanut cheese." Krampner found a similar phrase in Suriname, "pinda-käse," but this product wasn't creamy — it was solid and sliced like dense cheese.

While visitors exploring Dutch groceries may be hard-pressed to find blocks of peanuts to slice, there are shelves of peanut butter to sample — jars loaded with chunks of peanuts, flavors sweetened with caramel or chocolate, or traditional recipes blended smooth (per Holland Shop24). Yet even with so many options, your Dutch tour guide may steer you toward the Calvé pindakaas display.