1863 – 1918

From confectioner to chocolate manufacturer

In the summer of 1863, Geraldus Johannes Droste’s confectioner’s shop and bakery opens its doors to the public in Haarlem. Here, customers can order chocolate drinks made with water and a variety of sweets are sold, including the chocolate pastilles, officially called ‘Pastilles Droste’, or more colloquially ‘flikken’.

In these early years, Droste’s brand awareness grows considerably and thus, the first Droste factory of the G.J. Droste firm is opened on August 2, 1890.

From 1891 onwards, the entire chocolate production process takes place in the confectioner’s shop. The cocoa beans are stored in the attic, while the sales are made in the ‘detail warehouse’. Until 1896, all sales occur at this location. Due to a lack of space, the Droste factory is moved to the Noorder Buiten Spaarne in the Veerpolder in 1891. This is where the production of cocoa powder and chocolate starts. This location is quite advantageous for Droste; as the factory is located on the water, the raw materials and the finished products can both be transported by ship.


On March 1, 1897, Gerardus Johannes Droste officially hands over the business to his sons: Jan Coenraad and Gerardus Johannes Droste Jr. By this time, the product range also includes various pralines, chocolate bars, chocolate figures, pastilles and cocoa powder. Around the turn of the century, Droste is already producing chocolate letters as well.

Despite the growing competition from older and larger Dutch and foreign chocolate manufacturers, Droste succeeds in securing a solid spot in the chocolate market. In 1898, the company acquires the right to display the royal coat of arms belonging to Queen-Dowager Emma.

To increase their sales opportunities, Droste starts exporting to Belgium, Germany and France around the turn of the century. They quickly expand to other countries. From 1905 onwards, they enter the American markets as well.

Around 1900, the image of the nurse appears on the tins of cocoa powder. This image was probably conceived of by the commercial artist Jan (Johannes) Musset from Haarlem, who was inspired by a pastel created by the Swiss painter Jean Etienne Liotard: ‘La serveuse de chocolat’, also known as ‘La belle chocolatière’. This refers to the beneficial effect of chocolate milk. This image will forever more be inextricably linked to the Droste brand.

In 1909, Jan Coenraad Droste withdraws from the company for health reasons. Business is still booming and the number of employees grows steadily.

During the First World War, Droste is faced with a shortage of raw materials and switches to the production of so-called ‘Eenheidsrepen’, chocolate bars for military personnel and civilians.