Hagelslag… an unsavoury cave-dwelling character from a fairytale?
Not even close. Hagelslag translates directly as ‘hailstorm’, but ask any Dutch person and the first thing they’ll tell you about is ‘fairy bread’, a Dutch and Australian delicacy. In the UK, sprinkles are kept for ice creams and cakes. In the Netherlands, it’s totally normal for grown adults to liberally shower sprinkles on their bread at mealtimes - in fact, they get through around 300 million slices of the sugary stuff each year.
For dessert, I’m assuming?
Nope. In the Netherlands, people enjoy sprinkles for breakfast, lunch, and for a snack in between. No birthdays or other special occasions required. That said, Hagelslag is most commonly enjoyed at breakfast time – more than 750,000 Dutch people eat the sweet treat first thing every single day.
What does it taste like?
The original Hagelslag brand, Venz, (founded in 1936 and now owned by Heinz) made exclusively chocolate sprinkles, but today there are endless options of flavours and sprinkle sizes. Children might prefer sweet fruit flavours, but with about 14 millon kilos of Hagelslag bring devoured by the Dutch each year, a massive market ensures that there’s a Hagelslag for everyone. In June, a successful Dutch Kickstarter campaign raised more than £7,000…. for bacon Hagelslag.
Bacon flavoured candy sandwiches for breakfast… I’m interested
You’re in luck. EasyJet has partnered with the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions to launch a super-niche three-day pop-up in Leicester Square. ‘Café Ven der Sprinkles’, will allow guests to live, eat and breathe Hagelslag. There will be sprinkle-inspired beauty treatments, edible Dutch Hagelslag art pieces, and a variety of flavours of the delicacy to try. The pop up aims to give people the opportunity to experience a bit of Dutch culture… and get a huge sugar rush, presumably.
How did adults end up eating sprinkles for breakfast?
There are a number of old fables about the origins of Hagelslag. Some mention a hailstorm leaving residents with nothing to eat but sprinkles, others describe an unconfirmed link between having chocolate for breakfast and happiness. “In a country where two thirds of daily meals are bread based the Dutch are quite literally starving for variety” says Colleen Geske, author of best seller Stuff Dutch People Like. Still, the country ranks highly on the World Happiness Index (sixth place), and only 3% of Dutch people consider themselves to be unhappy. With EasyJet’s pop up opening from 22 September, sprinkles for breakfast seems like a pretty sweet idea.