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11 foodstuffs of the GDR you can still find in German supermarkets Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Food, History

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Bundesrepublik (Federal Republic) and Ostdeutschland (East Germany) finally reunited on 3rd October 1990 officially, the citizens and workers of the GDR hoped for an economic reorganization. However, transforming a Planwirtschaft (planned economy) into a Marktwirtschaft (market economy) soon proved to be illusionary.

On the one hand, it was illusionary because the Beschäftigungsstruktur (employment structure) between East Germany and the Bundesrepublik differed seriously. In East Germany, about 75.7 percent of the citizens worked in Großbetrieben (large concerns) with more than 1,000 employees, whereas in the Bundesrepublik only 39.3 percent did. It was extremely difficult for the citizens of the GDR to adapt the new economic and social requirements in order to exist in a capitalistic environment. Within two years most of the large concerns shrank to small and medium-sized businesses, some disappeared completely. On the other hand, it was illusionary because East German Produktionsanlagen (production facilities) were outdated and couldn’t compete with modern ones.

Anyway, some East German products still exist, especially foodstuffs are still available. 11 of them fell into my hands during my last shopping quest.

 

Let my heart melt away: Bambina

To come straight to the point, I love Bambina. My mother sometimes brought a bar of it with her when she collected me from kindergarten. It’s a mixture of butterscotch and roasted hazelnuts coated with milk chocolate.

 

A breeze of the West: Club Cola

This is the East German answer to Coca Cola and Pepsi. West products weren’t obtainable in the GDR, except for so called Intershops. That were small stores in larger cities where you could buy West products, if you had Westgeld (lit. West money; meaning: D-mark). I cannot remember that I had ever drunk Club Cola when I was a child. It simply was never on stock at the beverage store where we used to buy our sparkling water. The only lemonade I could drink as a child was of a light yellow color. I would have given my everything for a bottle of red or colorless lemonade.

Chocolates for special moments: Halloren Kugeln

The Halloren Schokoladenfabrik AG is one of the oldest chocolate factories of Germany. It was founded in 1804, hence, it isn’t a “genuine” East German factory. The Halloren Kugeln (Halloren scoops) are the best known product of the Halloren Schokoladenfabrik AG. It came up in 1952 and was called the Volkspraline (folk chocolate), which should versüßen (to soothe, to sweeten) the difficult post-war era. The shape and name of the Halloren Kugeln come from the silver buttons of the Salzsiedertracht (garb of salters). People who wear this garb today, still call themselves Halloren, which is derivated from the German city Halle, where the chocolates are manufactured.

They are crunchy: Knusperflocken

Knusperflocken (lit. crunchy flakes) are still very popular among Germans. The milk chocolate drops contain ground crispbread and make eating sweet things a crunchy experience. I love them, too. When I was a child my mother had always hidden the package from me in order to make sure that I eat it up all at once.

Germans like their sausages spicy: Bautz’ner Senf

Germans cannot imagine to eat their sausages without mustard. The Bautz’ner Senf (mustard made in the city of Bautzen, Saxony) was the most popular mustard in the GDR and it is still available. You can choose between pikant-süß (spicy-sweet), mittelscharf (medium-strength), and scharf (hot).

The Prosecco of the GDR: Vipa

Vipa was the beverage that was always on stock at family birthday parties. It is a light-alcoholic drink made of wine and grape juice. My mother once allowed me einen Schluck davon zu trinken (to have a sip of it). It tastes like grape juice and is really delicious. I hadn’t missed this drink over the years but was completely amazed when I realized that it was relaunched.

Crispy bread without flavor: Filinchen

It’s not sweet. It’s not salty. It’s just without any flavor. I don’t know why people like this. Filinchen are dünne Scheiben Knusperbrot (thin slices of crispbread). My mother likes it a lot. She usually spreads it with butter and jam. I can only eat it with a thick layer of hazelnut spread …

The one and only Hazelnut Spread: Nudossi

 

… for example with Nudossi. The citizens of the Bundesrepublik had Nutella. Nudossi is the East German answer to hazelnut spread. It is a little bit sweater than Nutella and reminds me more of milk chocolate, whereas Nutella is quite dark.

Gherkins from the Spree Forest: Spreewald Gurken

 

In the GDR, pickled vegetables usually came from the Spreewald (Spree Forest). Besides gherkins they also produce Rotkohl (red cabbage), Sauerkraut (sauerkraut), and further pickled types of vegetable. The Spreewald Gurke (Spree Forest gherking) is definitely the star among cabbage, sweet pepper, and corn. You can get the Spreewald Gurke in different flavors: Saure Gurken (lit. sour cucumbers), Senfgurken (mustard cucumbers), Knoblauchgurken (garlic cucumbers), Gewürzgurken (pickled cucumbers), and Dillgurken (dill cucumbers.)

Rotkäppchen Sekt

 

The Rotkäppchen Sektkellerei GmbH (champagne cellars) is located in Freyburg/Unstrut, Saxony-Anhalt. You can choose between trocken (dry), halbtrocken (semi-dry), and mild (mild). The champagne got its name because of the red capsule. The trademark “Rotkäppchen” registered 15th July 1895.

A bar of chocolate that cannot sing: Schlager Süßtafel

Like Bambina and Knusperflocken, the Schlager Süßtafel is a product of the company Zetti. All three product are manufactured in Zeitz, Saxony-Anhalt. Admittedly, I have no idea why this bar of chocolade is called Schlager Süßtafel. OK, Süßtafel means sweet bar but Schlager means “hit song” to me. Anyway, it is a sweet bar of chocolate with roasted peanuts.

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


Comments:

  1. Alcazar:

    Very nice article.
    Being from East-Germany (Thuringia) me knows almost all products listed.
    Besides Club-Cola there was also Vita-Cola which could be bought in the HO and Konsum shops.
    Maybe you didnt drink it, because parents said “von Cola bekommt man schwarze Füsse” 😛 (cola makes black feet)
    Bautnzer Senf is still popular yes, but here we prefer Born Senf (from Erfurt / Thuringia).