Our History

History

The Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, Iowa, has been offering delicious "Dutch Treats" since 1898, when it was founded by Harmon Jaarsma who used recipes he brought with him as an immigrant from Holland.

A hundred years ago, Harmon had two brick ovens in the bakery that were fired with wood.  After the ashes were brushed out, the bread was put in to bake, followed by the buns, Dutch Letters, cookies, and finally rusks as the ovens slowly cooled down before re-firing.  The bakery also served as a coffee shop and living quarters for the family.

Back then everyone's favorite treat, the Dutch Letters, were made only as a special treat for Sinterklaas Day (the Dutch Santa Claus Day), December 6th.  They are typically shaped into an "S" for "Sinterklaas".  In this old photo Harmon Jaarsma is baking a pan of Dutch Letters.

Harmon’s son Frank learned the business of baking from his father and in 1948 moved the bakery to its present location on Pella’s town square.  With the help of Frank’s two sons, Howard and Ralph, Jaarsma Bakery provided the community with fresh bread and an assortment of pastries.  In 1973 a tragic fire burned the bakery to the ground.  Under the direction of Howard and Ralph, a new bakery was built on the same site.

Family baking at Jaarsma Bakery has been carefully passed on for four generations.  It is now owned and operated by Harmon's great-grandaughter Kristi and her husband Dave Balk.  Through the years we have strengthened and improved these original recipes from the Netherlands.  A full line of home-style baking features flaky pastries, tasty breads, irresistable cakes and cookies with hundreds of choices available daily.  We continue to take pride in the tradition of baking the finest quality baked goods from scratch.

We have put together some special collections of delightful Dutch treats that you will enjoy adding to your special occasion — whether it's a graduation, birthday, anniversary or holiday.  These pastry collections include not only our famous Dutch Letters, but also other Jaarsma Dutch specialties including Speculaas (Dutch Spice cookies) and Boter Koek (Almond Butter cake).

We hope you will stop in and try some of our other Dutch specialties when you visit beautiful Pella, Iowa, particularly during the famous Tulip Festival in early May.