This cover shows an elegant man and his equally refined lady friend teasing each other with a Meco milk chocolate bar. They seem eager to take a bite. The fox-trot was ordered by the chocolate factory Rademaker’s as publicity. The chocolate bar with a light blue wrapper was sold in tins. The brand name Meco was designed in a typical De Stijl yellow typeface: the M has rectangular corners and is rotated ninety degrees to form an E.
Meco milk chocolate bars were made by Rademaker’s Royal Cacao and Chocolate Factory in The Hague, Netherlands. On the backside of the sheet music cover we are presented with publicity for their other specialities: Haga vanilla chocolate, Fenix Cacao and their most important sweet Haagse Hopjes.
Hopjes are coffee-flavoured candies. They are as Dutch as tulips and were named after baron Hendrik Hop (1723-1808) who let inadvertently simmer a mixture of coffee, cream and sugar too long on his stove until it caramelised. Baron Hop liked this sweet so much that he ordered his baker Theodorus van Haaren to recreate these lumps of coffee. Baron Hop was very enthusiastic and offered the sweets to all his classy and noble guests. The lumps of coffee were soon exported as a luxury product all over Europe. First they were sold as Baron Hop’s bonbons.
From 1880 on they were called Haagse Hopjes. The hopjes became so popular that a real hopjes war started as many brands claimed to be the producer of the original hopje. Rademaker’s was but one of them, although they definitely were the first to wrap the sweets into an individual paper.
The first Rademaker’s factory in The Hague burned down in 1901 and a new one was built elsewhere in the city with a remarkable oriental-looking front.
At the end of the 20s the factory proved too small and again a new one was built, this time as a modernist structure.
An early commercial dating back to 1925 shows us the production process of the Meco chocolate bars and of the Haagse hopjes.
Today the Haagse Hopjes aren’t Dutch anymore. They are owned by a Swedish firm and produced in Italy. In Belgium we are still producing a coffee-flavoured sweet in a beautiful wrapper, the Caramella Mokatine. It is made from the original 1925 recipe by Confiserie Roodthooft in Antwerp.