According to thedutchtable.com blog, Beschuit (Dutch rusk) has been around since the 1400’s, when it was reputed that the Bishop of Utrecht (no less) was a fan of this ‘twice-baked bread’. During the 1600’s, the city of Wormer made quite a name for itself with a refined form of beschuit, which compared favourably with its contemporary the ‘scheepsbiscuit’, an altogether rougher product made for the local seafarers.
Despite these 6 centuries of history, by the time I lived here in the 1990s beschuit had become a fairly standard, industrial commodity: Available largely in its white bread, regular disc-shaped form, and packed in a shiny plastic, windowless bag to hide any small imperfections.
Not any more. Welcome to the ‘Farmers’ range: Dark, seedy, ‘original grain’ rusks that are flying off the shelves, and it’s easy to see why.
The packaging has more craft clichés than you can point a (wholegrain) stick at: Mock handwriting, hand-drawn shapes, painted wooden planks, messages circled by arrows and one of those scribbled-in typefaces that are so hot right now. I also like the fact that the product window is large but still ‘managed’, thus avoiding the look of a commodity.
But in reality (not a place where many brands live) the most authentic signal is that of the branding, a cartoon baker in a red diamond. The circled text proudly proclaims the brand’s 1867 origins, although this logo looks like it might have been made 100 years later. That’s still nearly 50 years ago for the consumers getting their teeth into this successful ‘new old’ concept. Next up: The Bishop of Utrecht’s original recipe?