100 years of delicious sweets
In 1912, Antwerp-based baker Louis Janssen decided to follow in a colleague’s footsteps and make his own sweets. Napoleon – the delicious sweet the Dutch and Belgians still know and love nearly a century after its creation – was first produced in the basement of Janssen’s bakery: In Den Gouden Bol. This confectionery was much-loved by locals and earned an impressive reputation.
One night, a fellow chocolatier was bragging about his new praline, which he named ‘Caesar’, to which Louis replied: ‘Then I shall call mine “Napoleon”.’ Little did he know his sweet would still be immensely popular nearly a century later.
From In Den Gouden Bol to Napoleon
The Caesar’s fame was short-lived, but the Napoleon steadily gained in popularity! Over the years, Janssen’s affectionately named ‘golden ball’ became increasingly popular. As the Antwerp factory started to reach capacity, Napoleon relocated to a larger factory in the municipality of Schelle, just 15 kilometres southwest of Antwerp. Napoleon relocated again in 2003, this time to the Dutch town of Breskens in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.
Nearly a century after the Napoleon sweet was first invented, the product range has grown considerably and the brand enjoys immense popularity.
Karel Lemm conquers the Netherlands
Karel Lemm took over his father’s business in 1898. Despite having never asked for the role, he became an exceptional director who transformed the company into a well-organized family operation with an international presence. Karel had sixteen children and several of his sons were employed by Lemco. With the help of some agents, the sons became active brand representatives and sellers throughout the Netherlands. Every Dutch region was covered by either a Lemm or an agent. After Karel’s death, the factory was briefly owned by his widow, Anna Elizabeth Agnes Lemm-Bikkers (1871-1965). In 1941, Anna transferred the company as a general partnership to her sons Theo, Aad, Gerard, Harry, Ben, and Sjef.