‘Ff een kroketje trekken’ is what the Dutch say when to go to the FEBO to buy a croquette. Literally translated it means: I’m just going to pull a croquette.

How did the FEBO come about? Why is it so popular? And what about the Dutch snack culture? Read it here!

FEBO Amsterdam & Dutch Food Culture

Febo Amsterdam kroket
The famous FEBO Amsterdam croquette.

The FEBO Amsterdam automatic formula holds a special position in Dutch food culture. Founded in 1941 under the name Bakkerij Febo and later renamed Maison Febo, the business of confectioner Johan Izaäk de Borst transformed into a automatic snack bar in 1960. Ticket vending machines with snacks and meals were originally an international phenomenon, but after the automatic was lost in New York and other world cities, Febo in Amsterdam kept the legacy alive. FEBO conquered the rest of the country from the capital. As a result, the automatic with hot croquettes and other snacks is nowadays regarded as a characteristic Dutch example of rapid restoration.

Dutch Food Culture Heritage

The automatic has even become part of the Dutch heritage. But it’s not just the automatic that characterises FEBO’s idiosyncratic approach, because at least as special is the quality of the croquettes and snacks from Febo’s own factory. Febo delivers chilled snacks daily to its branches in Amsterdam and three times a week to its stores in the rest of the country. This distinguishes the Amsterdam snack specialist in an industry that mainly functions on the basis of frozen products.

Famous Footballer Johan Cruijff On Febo Amsterdam

Johan Cruijff Febo Amsterdam
Johan Cruijff was a lifetime fan of the FEBO.

When I heard that the FEBO Amsterdam, as you are popularly called, is only 70 years young, I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought that my grandparents bought a croquette or fries already. But apparently the Febo and I are almost peers. So a young company! Of course I grew up with the Febo. That may sound crazy from the mouth of someone who has always lived for top sport, but for me that goes very well together. That is why it is nice that the Olympic Stadium and my Febo are within eye distance of each other. Anyone who has exercised can eat something, and who has eaten something realizes that you have to keep moving well.

The Johan Cruyff Foundation

The Johan Cruyff Foundation gets people moving, and luckily our office is close to the FEBO. Since I live in Barcelona, ​​I visit the FEBO a little less often, but those who know me know that I hardly miss an opportunity to drop by for a sandwich special or a sandwich half-way because those are my favourites. But they have known that at Febo for a long time. Fortunately, the Febo also is a good neighbour and partner of the Johan Cruyff Foundation and I hope they will continue to do so! Keep on making my tasty sandwiches!

First FEBO Near Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium

Dutch food to try
A wall filled with Dutch food to try out!

The historic Heck’s location and confectionery FEBO are as Amsterdam as the Jordaan, the canals and the Westertoren. Under the name Bakkerij FEBO (bakery Febo), Johan de Borst, supported by his father Jan Pieter, opened a pastry shop on August 2, 1941 in the capital, a stone’s throw from the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium.

Everybody Eats At FEBO

Although official etiquette dictates that eating at street level is not a good idea for people of any status, the phenomenon of ‘snacking’ is timeless. Even Amsterdammers ate in public places at markets, fairs and during other festivities. Old Amsterdammers even had their own name for this phenomenon. At the beginning of the twentieth century, snacking derived from Yiddish was popularly called nasjen or nassen. In the days when meat croquettes were a precious delicacy and fries were out of the question, the Amsterdammer ate other snacks. The Jewish merchant Nathan de Leeuw sold sweet and sour brine bombs, onions and pickled cucumbers on markets like the Amsterdamveld.

Boiled Egg Snacks

Colleagues of Nathan also sold snacks, like the Amsterdam egg madame, who sold single boiled eggs to customers. Even on Sunday, Nathan de Leeuw took his sour cart through Amsterdam’s streets. He then loudly proclaimed “Onions in wine vinegar, cucumber only one cent! Onions, cucumber one cent only!” The herring man was also unrepentant. In his book about Amsterdam merchants, writer Jelle Scholing quotes his recommendations:

“They’re fat! Re-re-re, al-al-al, ly-ly-ly, good herring! My wife jerks it off and my daughter adds the union.” On the Amstelveld you bought cooked liver or cooked heart with mustard for 15 cents.

New Dutch Snacks Came From The South

That was snacking in Amsterdam at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, not Amsterdam, but South Netherlands is the cradle of the typical Dutch snack fashion. This new nash culture was mainly inspired by the Belgian chip shop, for which the seeds had already been sown at the end of the nineteenth century. The Netherlands followed the Belgian frying culture. In 1909 frying-restaurant Reitz opened in Maastricht, where fresh fries were and is the specialty.

First World War Brought Belgian Snacks

Many Dutch people were introduced to French fries for the first time during the First World War, when many thousands of Belgian refugees found temporary shelter with Dutch households, especially in the southern provinces. Many Dutch people tasted fried potato bars for the first time through these Belgians. Even before the Second World War, the deep-fryer then progressed slowly but steadily from the south of the Netherlands. Although the first real boom only emerged in the years 1945-1950, fried goods were already in great demand in many parts of the Netherlands in the 1930s.

Imported Food Culture From Belgium

Dutch snacks to try
Dutch snacks to try when you’re out walking the streets.

The contemporary cafeteria, snack bar as well as the Febo Amsterdam shops, are a synthesis of the French fries businesses in the South of the Netherlands and the Amsterdam confectioners and cookery shops. We owe croquettes to the Amsterdam bakers, although the delicacy itself is certainly not typically Amsterdam. The principle of ingredients in a crispy coating of breadcrumbs and egg whites is centuries old and comes from French cuisine. Yet Amsterdam is almost certainly the cradle of the meat croquette as the delicacy as we know it today. In the second half of the nineteenth century, when the common man hardly ever came to restaurants, the better establishments already served croquettes filled with meat or other ingredients. The croquette was a typical winter delicacy reserved for the man of good standing.

Where Does The Name Febo Amsterdam Come From?

Febo Amsterdam Ferdinand Bolstraat
Proud FEBO CEO Dennis de Borst stands in front of his iconic snack wall.

A lot has been said and written about the name Febo Amsterdam over the years. Intimates claimed that FEBO is short for the surnames of the two partners; ‘B’ from De Borst and’ Fe ‘by the in-laws Le Feber. Although (Piet) Le Feber worked with the De Borst family for a long time, FEBO did not derive its name from these two family names. Others believed that the Amsterdam chain owes its name to the fact that Johan de Borst learned the trade at a pastry shop on Ferdinand Bolstraat.

FEBO’s CEO explains more about FEBO Amsterdam in the app Amsterdam Audio Tours. He and 21 other experts share English stories about Holland’s capital, Dutch culture and the Red Light District.

FEBO Amsterdam Ferdinand Bolstraat

Foto Fébo was also located in that street in 1941, but that is unknown to Johan’s son Hans and grandson Dennis de Borst. Johan de Borst himself gave the following statement in the book called “Snelle Hap” (Fast Snack) in 1995: “Originally the intention was to open a bakery in the Ferdinand Bolstraat. It did not happen. But because the abbreviation Febo was already in the articles of association as the company name, I left it at that.”

An Amsterdam Phenomenon

Kroket Dutch
“Febo – the tastiest!”

More and more Amsterdammers have money to go out and eat outside. Febo spins on the increasing prosperity. At the end of the 1960s, Febo opened more branches in the city. In addition, construction of a new production kitchen is starting to meet the sharply increasing demand. Febo had the wind in their sails. Prosperity rose rapidly in the decades after World War II. The Dutch had more and more money in their pocket and had more free time. Not only adults, but young people had some money to spend. It had no effect on eating in restaurants. In a survey in 1960, as many as 17 out of every twenty Dutch consumers indicated that they rarely or never ate out.

Snack Bars As Stepping Stones For Eating Out

That figure changed rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. The Dutch spent more and more food guilders outdoors. The cafeteria, snack bar and fried snacks were often the stepping stone to eating out. The number of deep-frying companies increased rapidly. In 1956, The Netherlands had 1,500 cafeteria-style businesses. More than fifteen years later, there were already two thousand more. According to an editor of De Conservator in 1959; “The warm sausage and fries stall has completely captivated the Netherlands and a rebellion by the youth would be feared if these stalls would suddenly disappear from the scene.” The magazine also reported that the stalls and cafeterias in our country sold 450,000 portions of fries every day.

Learn more about the FEBO during our Amsterdam Audio Tours App with FEBO’s CEO and 21 other experts.


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