German Language Blog

Toast Hawaii Posted by on Nov 5, 2010 in Culture, Food

Kochsendungen (cookery shows) are very beliebt (popular) in Germany. Nowadays, there are a lot of them im Fernsehen (on TV).

Germany’s first television cookery show was called “Bitte in zehn Minuten zu Tisch” (here: Dinner will be served in ten minutes) and ging auf Sendung (went on the air) in 1953. The show was presented by Clemens Wilmenrod whose real name was Carl Clemens Hahn. Clemens Wilmenrod was only his Künstlername (screen name). Actually, Wilmenrod was no cook but ein erfolgloser Schauspieler (a failed actor). Due to lack of offers as an actor, he suggested to the Fernsehanstalt (TV broadcasting company) to produce a cookery show, with him as the cook.

His Markenzeichen (signature feature) was his geschraubte Redeweise (bookish manner of speaking) rather than his Kochkünste (cooking skills). He always prepared very simple meals and gave them hochtrabende Namen (fancy names) like “Arabisches Reiterfleisch” (Arabic equestrian meat) – a simple minced meat dish and “Venezianischer Weihnachtsschmaus” (Venetian Christmas Treat) – a beaded escalope.

While cooking he was always telling stories about his Reisen (trips) to foreign places where he got to know all these dishes or where he was inspired to develop such meals himself. For example, he claimed that the “Arabisches Reiterfleisch” was a genuine Lebanese dish that was shown to him by Bedouins.

Although he was a Hochstapler (impostor) one of his dishes became very popular all over Germany: the Toast Hawaii. It consists of eine Scheibe Toastbrot (a slice of toast), Kochschinken (cooked ham), Ananas (pineapple) and Schmelzkäse (processed cheese), which übereinander gelegt werden (are laid on top of each other) and grilled until the cheese melts.

It is assumed that the Toast Hawaii is an imitation of the Grilled Spamwich that U.S. soldiers ate during their stationing in Germany. Hormel’s Spam was not available in Germany’s retail stores. Thus, Wilmenrod replaced it by a slice of cooked ham. Both the ham and the slice of pineapple had some symbolic character. The ham symbolized the newly gained economic vitality and the pineapple stood for Fernweh (wanderlust).

After 11 years the show was cancelled because Wilmenrod was more and more criticized for amateurism, Schleichwerbung (surreptitious advertising), and for stealing recipes. By this time, erkrankte er bereits an Krebs (he was already diagnosed with cancer). Shortly after beging er Selbstmord (he committed suicide).

In 2009, Wilmenrod’s story was made into a film. Fortunately, the film was shown on TV some days ago and I could receive an impression of his life. I noticed that he is portrayed as a person who always behaved very unnatural. At first, I thought the actor intended an exaggerated depiction of the person Clemens Wilmenrod but then I found the following original video on YouTube, in which he justifies that he is the inventor of the Filled Strawberry. This scene was also part of the film. Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles but I think, the video is, nevertheless, a good choice to get an idea of who the person Clemens Wilmenrod was – especially when he is holding the knife to his chest and vows that he would kill himself when someone can prove that he is not the inventor of this appetizer.


(die) Kochsendung – cookery show
beliebt sein – be popular
im Fernsehen – on TV
auf Sendung gehen – to go on the air
(der) Künstlername – screen name
ein erfolgloser Schauspieler – a failed actor
(die) Fernsehanstalt – TV broadcasting company
(das) Markenzeichen – here: signature feature
geschraubte Redeweise – bookish manner of speaking
Kochkünste – cooking skills
hochtrabende Namen – fancy names
(die) Reise – trip
(der) Hochstapler – impostor
eine Scheibe Toastbrot – a slice of toast
(der) Kochschinken – cooked ham
(die) Ananas – pineapple
(der) Schmelzkäse – processed cheese
übereinander legen – to lay on top of each other
(das) Fernweh – wanderlust
(die) Schleichwerbung – surreptitious advertising
an etw. erkranken – to be diagnosed with sth.
Selbstmord begehen – commit suicide
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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


  1. mary:

    I was curious on how you would translate ‘geschraubte Redensweise’ – you did pretty good! I always have problems translating German sayings – it’s like another language altogether!