Danish Language Blog

Is a danish actually Danish? Posted by on Jun 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

(Courtesy of Susanne Nilsson at Flickr, CC License.)

(Courtesy of Susanne Nilsson at Flickr, CC License.)

When English-speakers hear the word ”Danish” they often think about … kager (cakes)! I always found that hilarious, because in Danish, a Danish pastry is called … wienerbrød [VEEnorbroth] – bread from Vienna, the capital of Austria! So, is the English-speaking world wrong?

En københavnsk bager havde været i Wien (a Copenhagen baker had been to Vienna), the co-op magazine Samvirke (Cooperation) tells. The baker fell in love with Vienna-style croissanter [kroh-a-SANGor] and brought the opskrift (receipt) with him to København. As he knew just how sukkerglad (sugar-happy) his landsmænd (compatriots) were, in 1843 he made some changes. First and foremost, he added his own special remonce [rehMONGS] (a kind of cake filling). The wienerbrød had been born!

Hvorfor navnet (why the name)? Well, to Copenhageners in 1843, Wien sounded classy and a bit exotic, too… After all, a bager [BAYor] has to sell his kager [KAYor]… When Danish bakers abroad, however, wanted to attract English-speaking kunder (customers), the most exotic name to use was … Danish!

When you sætter tænderne i (dig your teeth into) a yummy wienerbrød, you’ll probably need to take some care: Dejen (the dough) smuldrer (is crumbling)! It’s almost as if it’s snowing flager (flakes)… This kind of dough is very Danish, I think, and it’s called butterdej (paste). Just taste the word: butterdej  [BOODadie]…

I’ve heard that the average Dane eats 10 kilos of pastry each year, so the Vienna brand clearly did its job… 🙂 Wienerbrød are typically consumed with kaffe (coffee) – some people even eat them in the morning, like any other morgenbrød (”morning bread”, such as scones or buns).

If you want an authethic Danish experience, I strongly recommend you take the time to visit a baker. 🙂 At least you now know that – yes, indeed! A Danish really is Danish.

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Kaiden:

    Reading this makes my denisiocs easier than taking candy from a baby.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Kaiden Hello Kaiden,
      what do you mean by ”denisiocs”? 🙂 BTW, you should be kind to yourself and buy yourself a tasty danish pastry – then the baby can keep its candy.
      Kind regards, Bjørn