The van Houtens, The Netherlands, and the History of Chocolate

May 20


Lisa Jeeves

Lisa Jeeves

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Discover the pivotal role the Netherlands played in the history of chocolate manufacturing, gifting the world the beloved chocolate bar! From the bustling cocoa ports of Amsterdam to the innovative minds of the van Houten family, the Dutch have left an indelible mark on the confectionery industry.


The Dutch Influence on Chocolate

With supermarket shelves brimming with a variety of chocolate treats and boutique stores offering innovative products,The van Houtens, The Netherlands, and the History of Chocolate Articles it's hard to imagine a time when chocolate wasn't a household staple. While modern chocolate is often associated with Belgium or Italy, it was the Netherlands that made some of the most significant contributions to chocolate manufacturing.

The Power of a Seafaring Nation

In the 1800s, the Netherlands was a small but powerful nation, controlling a significant portion of the world's cocoa trade. Amsterdam, one of the most important cocoa ports, was teeming with cocoa beans, setting the stage for Dutch innovators to revolutionize chocolate production.

The Birth of the Chocolate Bar

Imagine a world without the chocolate bar—the snap of an 80% dark chocolate bar or the creamy comfort of a milk chocolate bar. This staple of modern confectionery was invented nearly 200 years ago in Amsterdam by a father-son duo, Casparus and Coenraad van Houten.

The van Houten Legacy

Casparus van Houten, a chocolate manufacturer and chemist, invented a hydraulic press in 1828 that transformed chocolate manufacturing. This press could extract about 50% of the cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans, resulting in a more versatile cocoa powder. His son, Coenraad, further improved the process by adding alkaline salts to the powder, making it easier to mix with water. This process, known as "Dutching," significantly improved the quality and usability of cocoa powder.

Tradition and Innovation

The Netherlands' contributions to chocolate manufacturing have laid the foundation for a thriving confectionery industry that supplies delicious treats across Europe.

Van Houten: A Legacy of Quality

The brand established by Casparus and Coenraad van Houten continues to produce some of the world's finest cocoa powder, ideal for cooking, baking, and making hot chocolate. Their premium cocoa powder, packaged in stylish vintage-style tins, pays homage to the van Houten legacy and looks great on both shop shelves and kitchen counters.

Droste: A Dutch Favorite

Another iconic Dutch brand in the wholesale confectionery world is Droste, founded in Haarlem in 1863. Known for its exquisite flavors, Droste's Chocolate Pastilles Selection includes unique varieties such as stracciatella, orange, and Madagascar single-origin milk chocolate.

Interesting Stats and Facts

  • The Netherlands is one of the largest importers of cocoa beans, importing approximately 1.1 million metric tons in 2020 (Statista).
  • Amsterdam's port handles around 20% of the world's cocoa bean trade (Port of Amsterdam).
  • The global chocolate market was valued at approximately $130 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027 (Grand View Research).


The Netherlands has played a crucial role in shaping the modern chocolate industry. From the innovative van Houten family to the enduring legacy of brands like Droste, Dutch contributions have made chocolate an integral part of our lives. So, the next time you savor a piece of chocolate, remember the rich history and innovation that made it possible.

This article highlights the Netherlands' significant contributions to the chocolate industry, focusing on the innovations of the van Houten family and the enduring legacy of Dutch chocolate brands. With detailed historical context and interesting statistics, it provides a comprehensive overview of the Dutch influence on chocolate manufacturing.