Having slight antisemitic undertones, the popular Dutch cookies named Jodenkoeken (“Jew cookies”), which have been a dessert staple in the Netherlands since the 19th century, will now be renamed in order to encourage more inclusivity.
The Jodenkoeken will now take the name of “odekoeken” — Dutch for “ode cookies.” This revamp comes after the company behind the Netherlands’ oldest and best-known jodenkoeken brands announced that it was changing the cookie’s name in a bid to “help create a more inclusive society.”
This being said, the Jewry in the Netherlands was never really offended by the shortbread cookies. In fact, they often bought the cookies, gifting them to their relatives, jestingly giving them as a joke. Ronny Naftaniel, who led Dutch Jewry’s watchdog group on antisemitism for 37 years before becoming vice-chair of the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands a decade ago told the JTA that, “I know it sounds strange to Americans, but there’s never been an issue around jodenkoeken.”
Although, some did argue that since jodenkoeken are big but very flat they are very cheap to produce and a lot of cheap products were associated with Jews. However, Dutch Jews don’t believe the name is discriminatory and although the manufacturer considered changing the name in the 1970s, he ultimately decided against it due to the lack of controversy around it.
Another theory suggests that an unnamed Amsterdam Jew sold the original recipe to Lotus Bakeries, which made it famous. According to a third theory, the biscuits were named jodenkoeken because of their simplicity at a time when many Amsterdam Jews were poor.
But eventually, last week, Patisserie Pater, the maker of the cookie, wrote on its website that the Davelaar-brand jodenkoeken will be called “odekoeken” — Dutch for “ode cookies.” Meanwhile, several other companies also manufacture jodenkoeken, and one, Lotus Bakeries, said on Saturday that it was considering changing the name, too, as “currently [the name] can lead to sensitivities.”
Reacting to the decision was Ronit Palache, a 36-year-old Dutch-Jewish journalist and author, who said she sensed “woke overzealousness” in Patisserie Pater’s announcement. “When you start making corrections no one needs or asks for, you’re just creating resistance and friction over nothing.”
Meanwhile, Eddo Verdoner, the chairman of the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, praised Patisserie Pater for “thinking of others in times of polarization.” But he told the news site NU that Jewish organizations “never had any issue with jodenkoeken, which never had negative connotations.”