The biggest and most famous grocery store chain in the Netherlands is Albert Heijn, the “Ah-ha (AH)”, found on almost every street corner. Our local one is just down the street and is always busy. The chain was founded in 1887, and you can even go visit the museum in Zaanse Schans (yes, a grocery store museum.)
I’m mentioning this because the store’s 125th anniversary is this year, and in honor they’ve rolled out a new campaign.Not always understanding Dutch or following the local news leaves me clueless to events at times, like when I suddenly started receiving little toys with my groceries, for every €15 I spent. I opened up the package to find a tiny box of macaroni, just like the real one on the shelves. In keeping with the Dutch habit to diminutize everything, they’re Albert Heijn minis, itty bitty groceries. You can collect all 51!

This cracks me up. What cracks me up even more is that it’s a big deal–a seriously big deal. The Dutch version of Craigslist is flooded with requests for trading, or the entire set for sale at a steep price. My au pair friend threw some away (because really, what do you do with mini-groceries? The Dutch are usually so practical!), to the risk of her health when it was found out. Families are on missions to collect all 51 mini-groceries, from the Fanta can to the loaf of bread to the jar of Nutella.

I finally gave in when I saw the mini store you can get:

Ok, well, that’s pretty cute. Add a kid behind that window, and 51 little groceries to offer, and I’m sold. Darn you, Albert Heijn.

Here’s my collection: nutella, a cookbook for “12 Months of Delicious Eating,” a type of breakfast bread, beschuit, vissticks, detergent, crackers and macaroni.

In other news, my parents arrive tomorrow morning! I’m so excited, even if I’ve spent all day cleaning. There’s nothing like your mom visiting to make you realize how dirty your apartment is. They arrive bright and early tomorrow for more than a week of fun around Amsterdam. We’re even going to Belgium! So forgive me if my posts are a big slow for the next week, but I’ll be back soon with news of Antwerp and Ghent.

Until then, enjoy this commercial for the roll-out of the campaign (in Dutch).