Maison Dandoy, the Belgian artisanal biscuit maker famous for its Speculoos has been slowly expanding its offer not only in Brussels, where it was created in 1829, but also outside the Belgian capital.
After the successful opening of a shop in Tokyo in 2012, Maison Dandoy is opening a shop in the Belgian city of Antwerp on the Graanmarkt as well as a temporary pop-up store at the Stadsfeestzaal.
The shops have been open since 23 November in time for the Christmas and New Year festivities.
For the festivities, the Brussels based biscuit maker is offering two collections, Saint-Nicholas’ sweets are for kids of all ages. There is also a Christmas pack called Holy days ask for devilishly good cookies.
This biscuit maker has a very interesting history which started in 1829 with Jean-Baptiste Dandoy, a young baker. He was the brother of the mayor of Uccle at the time and set to create the biscuit firm which still carries his name today.
It was originally opened in rue Marche-aux Herbes in the centre of old Brussels. It moved in 1858 to a nearby 17th century house in rue au Beurre (Butter street) which connected the main square (Grand Place) to the Stock Exchange (Bourse). Jean-Baptiste was then working with his son Philippe, who succeeded him at the head of Maison Dandoy.
As the oldest and most famous biscuit shop in Brussels, Maison Dandoy was also renowned for its rusks. Their success around the Brussels area has eventually helped the biscuit firm survive the economical and financial crisis of the 1930’s as well as go through the Second World War, during which Dandoy was only allowed to use flour for producing its rusks.
During the Second World War, the lack of raw materials and the food rationing imposed by the war made it impossible for Biscuiterie Dandoy to produce most of its pastry and biscuit specialities. Many businesses in the field were consequently forced to close.
Valère Rombouts-Dandoy was then running the biscuit firm, together with his wife Fernande. Temporarily having to stop baking the biscuits which had made the shop famous, he still managed to get the authorisation to carry on producing rusks, one of the rare bakery products, along with bread, that could be claimed with food rationing tickets. This decision made it possible for Biscuiterie Dandoy to survive, and its rusks’ reputation hasn’t faded since.
After the war, Valère and Fernande have chosen to wait for high quality raw materials to reappear on the market before resuming the production of Dandoy’s main biscuit recipes.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Maison Dandoy started to expand thanks to their son Jean, the only fifth generation member of the biscuit firm founders.
The products range was widely developed by Jean, while continuing the traditional specialties of the house like Speculoos or pain à la grecque. With the help of his wife Christiane, he put special emphasis on biscuits presentation and marketing, introducing a new design and modern packaging. Very soon, the house in rue au Beurre became too small for housing the shop and the workshop, as well as the rapidly expanding staff in a single building.
A new workshop, bigger and more modern, was built a few hundreds yards from there, not far from the Port of Brussels, where it is stands today.
With its shop window still illuminating rue au Beurre, Dandoy opened a second shop in 1984 in rue Charles Buls, on the other side of the Grand Place of Brussels. It was strategically located on the way to the Manneken Pis Statue, famous Brussels curiosity.
Six generations after its founding, the same Dandoy family (represented by Christine Dandoy, the daughter of Jean and Christiane, and by Bernard Helson, their son-in-law) is still running the biscuit firm without ever having yielded to the temptation of turning to a large-scale industrial production.
With a much wider variety of specialities, its oldest and most famous biscuits are still prepared following the same original recipes once invented by the founders of Maison Dandoy.
In 2012, the firm completely renovated its logo and opened its first store outside Belgium. The shop was opened in Tokyo Station’s Daimaru Department Store.
The opening of the Antwerp store is the next step in Maison Dandoy’s expansion.