The orange layer comes from scale insects and HEMA enlarged it. Did you know that Tomboys are named after the little ones who performed in the circus?
Traveling circus performers
In America and France they call him mille-feuille Or Napoleon. We named Tom Duim the French, Tom Bouse. So it happened, says Etymological Dictionary of the Dutch LanguageReferred to as small people who performed in front of an audience in the nineteenth century.
Like the British Charles Sherwood Stratton, he traveled in circuses from the age of six. He was only 63.5 centimeters tall and his stage name was General Tom Thumb. He traveled through Europe in 1844 and 1845 and arrived in the Netherlands. Presumably the name Tom Thumb was known here.
The little things are named after these little circus performers, but with the French word for thumb: pouce. For example, a dwarf geranium, a small carriage and a parasol for women. The first Amsterdam baker to create the pastry also named them: Tomboos.
Orange is not kosher
E number E120 is used for most tompouces to get the orange color. It is a dye extracted from an aphid, the cochineal aphid.
Customers don’t want bells and whistles on their Tombos.
Such an aphid is not halal, not kosher, and certainly not vegetarian. According to Islamic dietary laws, you may eat a locust, for example in case of plague. But not the louse that is pulverized by its brown color.
HEMA Tomboos contains a different type of dye, but it is not kosher or halal. Gelatin cream is used, which comes from pork bones.
Which is better: pink classic or orange?
says pastry chef Antoinette, who helps queues full of hungry customers at the Bond n Smolders pastry shop in Utrecht early on King’s Morning.
“The only difference is the color. Classic Tomboys are light pink. Sometimes someone wants a name or a heart on it. Customers also don’t want bells and whistles on their Tomboys.”
No chocolate, fruit, glitter or flecks, says Hema. Customers don’t like that. “So we choose a variation: the same orange HEMA domes.”
With a whipped cream bar in the middle, orange tombos don’t get any fanfare. That stripe is Baker’s personal preference. It’s not with Bond and Smolders. But Antoinette’s parents, who run the place, sprayed it. “That’s a matter of taste. They do it in Queckeboom.”
You can make tombos in four steps
A large piece of (homemade) puff pastry, pour cream on top, another layer of puff pastry and top with fondant. Then the giant tombos are cut into 4- to 10-centimeter pieces.
A tough job, says baker Antoinette. Nowadays, a machine does this efficiently.
HEMA made Tompos better
HEMA didn’t invent the orange dome, but it made it an icon. By the 1930s, pastries were affordable, allowing the common man to eat them. HEMA has been selling domes since 1932. Nowadays, about fourteen million are sold each year.
Sales explode around King’s Day. According to the company, HEMA sold twenty times more that week than a ‘normal’ week. In the week around King’s Day, it’s about a million units.
Are HEMA Tombos so tasty? If you ask an artisan pastry chef, the answer is no.
Baker Antoinette van Bond en Smolders makes cream based on milk and real vanilla. Puff pastry is also made of butter. “These are fresh products, so we make them every morning.”
HEMA manufactures its domes in very large quantities. The filling consists of powder with water, says Antoinette. They are delicious, she thinks too. But pick up some of the more expensive, fresh tombos from the pastry chef, and you won’t want anything else.
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