A friend of mine recently came back from Amsterdam.
Now, if you are familiar with any aspect of Amsterdam, you will know people who go to Amsterdam go there to get high on smoke and drink, pop pills and engage in all sorts of party animal behaviour. It is the garden of earthly delights. So it was with great (albeit naughty) anticipation when she told me over the phone that she wanted to meet me for lunch the following day to pass me “a gift” she’d brought back from Amsterdam.
Of course I was excited – are you kidding? It’s “stuff” from Amsterdam, baby!
The next day at lunch, with gleeful fingers trembling, I took the non-descript brown paper bag as she slid it across the table. I inspected the paper bag – it was coated with a thin layer of white powder. Very contraband-ish. Dare I open the bag in broad daylight?
With bated breath, I pry the bag open and look inside – there’s another white bag on the inside. My friend looks at me with eyes big as dinner plates as I pull the bag out cautiously, ready for narcotics officers to pounce on me at my slightest flinch. Finally, I get it out of the brown bag and this is what I see.
A white bag with the head of a woman on the front, in the national colours of the Netherlands, that reads “Wilhelmina Pepermunt”.
A little confusing, to say the least (especially when you’ve been set up to expect to receive a pound of blow from your party-hardy friend who just came back from Amsterdam.)
At this point, the smell of peppermint hits me like a subway train – this might not be hard drugs but judging from the smell, it’s just as strong. Braving the minty-ness of it all, I open the bag, peer inside and see the biggest freakin’ mints I’ve ever seen in my entire life!
I know it’s hard to tell from the photograph but trust me, these mints were so huge they could be casino tokens for gambling cats or something. In fact, just to give you a size reference, I’ll take a comparison picture with a Panadol capsule.
They’re freaking mints for God’s sake!
In any case, I started wondering about the name – “Wilhelmina Peppermunt”. It was somewhat regal and the picture of the woman printed on the front was no slouch either. I thanked my friend for the gift and made my way back to my office, ready for some answers.
A quick wiki later, I came upon the origins of my bag of Dutch mints:
“Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Marie (of Orange-Nassau) was Queen Regent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 – 1948. She then became Queen Mother from 1948 – 1962. She had the honour of ruling the Netherlands longer than any other Dutch monarch in history.”
As for her relationship to peppermints, Wikipedia came up short on that. Although I’d like to cook up a story about how Wilhelmina ruled the Dutch by pelting the commoners’ heads with extraordinarily large peppermints, I can only assume that these peppermints are more a sort of touristy keepsake. Why do I say that?
Because upon a more thorough wiki lookthrough, I found this picture.
Doesn’t that guilder on the left look like one of my peppermints?
Anyway, they turned out to be pretty tasty and what’s even better is that they last as long as they look like they last – and that’s a really long time. In fact, I popped one in my mouth before I started writing this post and I’m only almost halfway through it. I suppose, judging from Wilhelmina’s long ruling, it should only be fitting that her mints last longer than any other, right?
Well, at this point, with the mint in my mouth, all I can (or can’t) say is:
Hail Wilhelmina Pepermunt!