December 5, the feast of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and the day Dutch children put out their wooden shoes with hay and carrots for St. Nicholas's horse hoping for goodies in return, especially a chocolate letter in the shape of the first letter of their name. We've been celebrating this tradition since I was a child and always look forward to this special day.
I remember asking when I was very little if St. Nicholas could bring me an "M" for one of my middle initials instead of an "A" thinking there would be more chocolate. It was only when I got older and had to purchase these for my children did I realize that no matter what initial you have, the weight of the chocolate is always the same!
Consuming millions of chocolate letters each year it is indeed a huge industry in the Netherlands. Almost 70% are milk chocolate (or melk) followed by white, then bittersweet (dark chocolate) and sugar free. They come in 2 sizes, 2.25 oz. or 4.75oz. I would buy the smaller letter when my girls were little but now I purchase the large chocolate letter. Both sizes are packaged differently each year with some version of Sinterklaas and his helper, Black Peter (Zwarte Piet).
I hate to say if your name begins with Q, U, X, Y or Z, you are out of luck as these chocolate letters are not made. Sorry, Xavier or Zak, hopefully your middle name does not begin with one of these letters!
I really like the chocolate in these letters, it is smooth and delicious. Leftovers never go to waste as I've used them for chocolate chunk cookies. The Dutch also do not waste the letters that are left over, they never go on sale but are sent back to the factories. We hope they are reused for the next holiday, Easter?