Dutch retailer Albert Heijn has predicted it will sell around 18 million tangerines during the week of 5 December, St. Nicholas' birthday in The Netherlands.
The link between tangerines and St. Nicholas is thought to have started with the tale of a poor man and his three beautiful daughters, who couldn’t marry for want of a dowry. When St. Nicholas learned of their plight, he gave the girls gold coins so they could get married and have a prosperous life.
For centuries the Saint kept sharing his wealth with children on his birthday, traditionally giving them 'gold nuggets' in the form of nugget-shaped spiced cookies, called ‘pepernoten' (peppernuts).
But in the early 1800s, the first imported, expensive ‘apples of orange’ from Spain might have provided a more exclusive gold substitute. And perhaps this ‘Spanish gold’ provided a reason for the legend to relocate St. Nicholas from his hometown of Myra (in Turkey) to Madrid.
Albert Heijn is ready for the rush - the retailer has been importing tangerines from the same Spanish supplier, Martinavarro, since the 1960s and currently offers eight varieties of the fruit.
© 2016 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Martha Sparrius. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.