Everyday purchases

Disappointment at the expat store (Or: Now and Later candy)

As a kid I was always eating Now and Later candy (English Wikipedia). Or Spree candy, the chewy version. The best part about Now and Later candy is that it is hard now and chewy later, hence the name.

I have thought about these candies now and then over the years, but it was never a big enough craving to buy a bag while I was in the States. I usually think about the candy whenever I see Marco put a peppermint in his mouth and bite it immediately. He can never wait, not even a few seconds. I told him before “well if you had a Now and Later candy you wouldn’t be able to do that!” because the candy starts off so hard it is impossible to safely bite through at the beginning.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the local expat store, Kelly’s, started selling the Now and later candies last month. I immediately planned a trip to the store and dragged Marco along. Later that night I unwrapped a candy, inspecting it. It looked hard like the original candy, but perhaps quite like I remembered. I took a bite, and felt the familiar disappointment of an expat set in. By which I mainly mean the disappointment of moving away and things change while you are gone. It was still tasty, mind you. Just not quite the same as it used to be. It isn’t as hard anymore–maybe people sued over their broken teeth–which was unfortunate considering the name.

It’s still fun to things drifting over from the States, though. I think two of the most important things are Frank’s original red hot sauce (for me) and Frank’s red hot buffalo wing sauce (for Marco). You can even get it at the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. No extra trip to the expat store needed. So it isn’t all disappointment!

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Dutch typos (Or: Watch out for beers)

In Dutch a bear is a beer (plural: beren).

Here is something I spotted at a local gift shop which I will not name:

Hmmm. You almost wonder if it is on purpose, but I don’t think so!

In other news:

Bioscopen draaien beste dag sinds begin coronacrisis from nos.nl (=Movie theatre has best day since the start of the corona crisis). Movie theatres were hit hard here. Even when they were not forced to completely close they still had to adhere to social distancing and have open seats between each group, or they weren’t allowed to sell refreshments, or they had to deal with a night curfew. But now since the new Jurassic World and Top Gun films have come out, and since Dr. Strange is still being shown in the theaters, the number of people going to the movie theatre is starting to (slowly) rise again.

HTM-chauffeurs staken volgende week opnieuw als ze geen toezeggingen krijgen from omroepwest.nl (=HTM drivers will strike again next week if they don’t get what they asked for). The article is actually from last Thursday, the day of the previous strike. HTM workers say they will go on strike again this Friday, June 10 if negotiations don’t go well before then.

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Prime location (Or: MediaMarkt is really in the city centre now)

Last week MediaMarkt moved about 300 meters. Still on Grote Marktstraat, but now it is even closer to the city centre action. MediaMarkt is like a Dutch Best Buy, for my American readers. The new location is in the building which used to house the V&D clothing store (1969-2015) and the Canadian store Hudson’s Bay (2017-2019). Hopefully MediaMarkt has more luck than those two stores did…

It is definitely a prime location, even better than the previous one which was near the end of the Grote Markstraat shopping area. And what picture isn’t accentuated with someone cycling past?

This image is kind of funny – I hadn’t realized the girl in the middle was basically filming herself with MediaMarkt in the background. Maybe she was streaming it to YouTube? Especially with how she is holding her free hand by her face.

I definitely won’t miss the old MediaMarkt location, with its old grimy carpet and horrible stairs. It was either take the horrible stairs or wait for the slowww elevator. Either way, you lost. There’s no carpet in this new location and there are escalators if you want to go to the upper floor. That alone makes it a win in my book.

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Weird purchases (Or: Who wants flaming hot Mac’n cheese?)

Here are some photos of possible weird things to purchase here in The Hague:

Above: Flaming hot Cheetos Mac’n Cheese from Kelly’s expat shopping. I have heard of combinations, but this might take the cake. It is interesting that it has a different pasta shape than mac’n cheese normally does (more fusilli-like). I am sure this version will stain your lips red…

Not quite an energy drink. They are so full of sugar they will probably make you crash right away. These “candy drinks” were spotted at the local Action not far from The Hague Central Station. They are apparently popular, as there weren’t many left.

Okay, a bag of Oreo crumbs could be very useful indeed (make a bit of vanilla bean ice cream, mix these in–yummm). Perhaps one doesn’t need a 300g/10.5oz bag of crumbs but saying that sounds a bit like heresy…

Random news of the day: Dutch-themed ‘Holland Park’ to open in Spring near Berlin from brusselstimes.com. I don’t get the impression that this park will be a hit with Germans, but who knows.

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Sweet nostalgia (Or: S’mores pop tarts)

A few weeks ago I visited Kelly’s expat store here in The Hague. In a moment of nostalgia I picked up a box of S’mores pop tarts. (My second choice would have been regular chocolate, another nostalgia hit.) I have had a pop tart a few times over the years but not that often. I think it is also the price – when I left the US back in 2012 you could wait for the occasional deal to get 2 boxes for 5 bucks. Whereas one box is €5.25 over here in the Netherlands. Import pricing…

In reality the look left a bit to be desired, but the taste was the same as I remember. I did do one thing differently though. As a kid I would always peel off the sides (where there isn’t any top frosting) and throw them out. Shame on me, I know. But these days I enjoy things a bit less sweet, so I ate it all.

Random news:

  • MediaMarkt in The Hague (aka the Dutch version of Best Buy) is moving later this spring, from their current location on the Grote Marktstraat to a new location on the… Grote Marktstraat. They will be moving into the old location where the Dutch department store V&D was, which is a better spot then what they currently have. I will just enjoy having escalators and not horrible steep stairs to get to another floor. Thanks to Marco’s dad for that news tip.
  • There will be another press conference here in the Netherlands tomorrow evening. The rumor is that almost all corona measures (except for the basic rules like hand washing, ventilation and testing if you have symptoms) will disappear on Friday, February 25. So no more mandatory face masks (except probably for vaccination centers or hospitals), no more advice to work at home, etc. We’ll see if it works.
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All the colors of the rainbow (Or: Macarons in De Passage)

While walking through De Passage last week I noticed a colorful sight by restaurant De Luca:

It was early in the morning so it wasn’t quite open yet. Which just meant I had a great opportunity to take a few photos.

And here is a close up:

Check out those prizes! €2.50 for 1 macaron, €25 for a box of 12. These are definitely seen as a luxury treat. If you are less picky you can go to the local Albert Heijn and get a box of 12 macarons for €5. Hmm. I am sure that is heresy to some folks, though.

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Childhood memories (Or: Old Dutch candy)

A few days ago I was at the local Hema and I spotted some classic Dutch candy (oud hollandse mix).

It reminded me of visiting my grandparents. I am pretty sure they had a candy dish full of sweets like that (who didn’t?). The hard candy that sticks together, somewhat annoying for a kid because you have first try to pull them apart before you can enjoy one, but nice because they take so long to eat. I don’t remember them having much taste, but I could be wrong on that point.

Candy, candy, candy everywhere. Sometimes I miss being a kid that could eat half a bag of candy or a handful of cookies without a second thought. I do still have a weakness for Haribo gummy bears, though. But only if you stick them in the freezer first… I’m weird, I know.

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Old finds at Xenos (Or: Sinterklaas chocolate letters in January)

Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.

Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.

Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…

In other news, for the history buffs among us:

Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).

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Goober jelly and peanut butter (Or: All the way from America)

It has finally happened – jars of Goober have arrived in The Netherlands, spotted at the Albert Heijn grocery store. Goober is jelly and peanut butter in the same jar (!). I thought it was an invention from the 1990’s, but according to Wikipedia it has been around since the 1960’s. Who knew.

I am a bit particular about my jelly and peanut butter ratios (about 1x jelly to 3x peanut butter) so this arrangement doesn’t work for me. Also, I have realized the awesomeness of Dutch peanut butter (aka less sugar and a bit thicker) so going back to American peanut butter would be a bit difficult. The only time I have it these days is when I am at an American hotel and I get one of those individual peanut butter containers for my toast. I do miss American style breakfasts.

Of course, it is entirely possible that this product has been available in The Netherlands for a while and I just noticed (it was hiding up on the top shelf after all)…

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Christmas decorations at Casa (Or: Reminders of my childhood)

Earlier this month I took a photo of Christmas decorations at a local homeware store called Casa (Dutch website). This was of course before the lockdown started and stores were closed, although pickup and delivery are still allowed.

I like the toy in the front, of an pendulum-based amusement ride. It reminds me of the Zipper ride (English Wikipedia) which is an even crazier design where your individual carriage also flipped while the ride spins. When I was just a kid, my mom would occasionally go on the Zipper when the carnival was in town (sometimes with my cousin Roxanne, I think?). I was always pretty shocked by this, as I never wanted to go anywhere near the contraption. I liked watching others go on it, though. From a safe distance. At some point as I grew up Mom stopped going on it, as it can get pretty painful to ride it of course. But whenever I see a ride like that I always think of her riding it.

As a kid my biggest accomplishment was riding the Tower of Terror. Twice. I was pretty proud of that. But I did skip on the (admittedly wimpy) Thunder Mountain roller coaster, until years later when Marco and I went on it. The first time around I kept my eyes tightly shut and kept whispering “No no no”. Oh, and I watched a few YouTube videos to help me get a sense of where all the turns would be before getting on it. Things went much better after that first time and I decided it was safe to actually look around on the second ride. Heh.

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