Pette Cacao and Chocolate, a family business

04 November 2015 - 16:05

A book to be feasted on, as nicely edited is Pette Cacao and Chocolate, A Zaan family business in turbulent times, by Marijke C. Pette, just published by Kemper Conseil

It is a company history of the firm J. Pette / Stoomchocoladefabriek De Arend in Wormerveer, which was founded in 1887. The small Zaan chocolate manufacturer did not survive the competition with the big ones like Verkade and went bankrupt in 1937.

In the 1930s, Pette's staff consisted mainly of girls between the ages of 12 and 16 from Amsterdam, who were transported to their workplaces by special train so as not to disturb the 'ordinary' train traveling by citizens. The girls did not have such a good name.

In 1936, the 'girls of Pette' went on strike because the management intended to lower their wages by fifteen percent. The question is whether this contributed to the eventual bankruptcy that followed shortly afterwards.

Looking through this beautiful book one comes to know many other interesting things. For example, that the 'Chocolade flick' was invented in 1745 by the Amsterdammer Caspar Flick. Or that Queen Wilhelmina set various conditions to the predicate 'court supplier'. The royal supplier also had to be a good employer: 'it will also be considered whether the applicant, as a person and as a citizen, is worthy of the favor, is humane to his subordinates, cares for their future and makes himself profitable for our trade and industry.'

The author did research in the library of the IISH, including in the collection of trade union periods and the archive of the General Employers' Association.

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