by Morgan Ritz
During the Tulip Festival, hundreds of visitors and locals are drawn to the Little White Store to get a hold of a tray of poffertjes, a traditional Dutch pastry. The Dutch Heritage Boosters spearhead this Tulip Festival staple and have made thousands of plates of poffertjes yearly in the Little White Store since 1988. The profits from the poffertjes sales go back into Orange City to help preserve Dutch heritage and give back to the community.
Although this is one of the most popular projects the DHB does every year, the beginnings of poffertjes were less popular than one would assume. When two DHB members found a traditional poffertjes grill in Michigan in 1988, they had the idea to offer poffertjes at the Tulip Festival to add one more Dutch tradition to the celebration. They hauled the grill back to Orange City and set up shop in the Little White Store. Before the Tulip Festival, they tested many different poffertjes recipes before settling on the current one. However, in the first few years of poffertjes, they could barely “give away trays of poffertjes,” according to Ann Minnick, a current DHB member.
Thankfully, the members of the DHB were steadfast and stubborn and continued to open the Little White Store every year. Eventually, the idea of poffertjes caught on, and now the DHB meets in advance to prepare for the Tulip Festival summer months of poffertjes sales.
The process of making poffertjes is as authentic as possible. The group creates an assembly line and knows the process like the back of their hands. They use traditional mixers to mix the secret recipe, and they use grills imported from the Netherlands. With a dash of powdered sugar at the end, Orange City locals and visitors get a taste of a traditional Dutch treat you could find right in the Netherlands.
Morgan Ritz, a native Nebraskan, is a senior public relations major at Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa. This article was researched and written as part of her public relations senior seminar. While working on her blog posts for the Dutch Heritage Boosters website, she came to appreciate Orange City and its history.