A brief history of the beloved Currywurst


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The beloved Currywurst ranks as one of Germany's most popular forms of street food. However, what many don't know is that this delicious traditional snack is symbolic of much more than just German cuisine...

The German street food scene is renowned throughout Europe for being diverse, not to mention delicious, with a huge range of delectable delicacies to choose from. Think wholesome pretzels, hearty bratwurst and sugary Gebrannte mandeln. But the ultimate high-street snack which stands heads above them all is the humble Currywurst, a savory sausage covered in a spicy curry tomato sauce.

A delicious German delicacy

A delicious German delicacy

The Currywurst is now one of Germany's most popular and celebrated snacks but where did it come from? And why does it form such an integral part of German cultural heritage?

Herta's hearty Currywurst is still a sweet, or in this case spicy, success decades later. On average 800 million Currywurst are sold in Germany annually ? that's an estimated 1,500 per minute! The Currywurst has managed to evade being turned into an item of mass production and has instead defended its status as a traditional authentic street food snack, a firm favorite among tourists and locals alike. Currywurst has become so popular in fact that Berlin now has its very own Currywurst museum, an experience dedicated to sharing the history and heritage of this symbolic street food. So whether you're a tourist looking for a late-night bite or a local heading to your favorite street food stall, when you take your first bite of Currywurst, try to take a minute to remember the history behind the food, - if that's possible before you gobble it all up!

As the story goes, German housewife Herta Heuwer was living in Charlottenburg in 1949, when the area was still under the control of British troops. There was some kind of exchange between Herta and the British which resulted in Herta trading alcohol for ketchup and curry powder. This simple exchange was responsible for the famous post-war delicacy that is still sold in the streets of Berlin and indeed the whole of Germany today. Herta then used her newly acquired ingredients to create the Currywurst, a fried pork sausage, sliced and then lathered in her unique spicy sauce of ketchup and curry powder.

Like so many culinary myths, the origins of the first Currywurst are pationately disputed by the Germans. There exists a certain inter-city rivalry between Berlin and Hamburg over where the first Currywurst was concocted and by whom, but the most popular reputed story begins in post-war Berlin with a woman named Herta Heuwer.

German street food

German street food
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The sauce, which Herta later patented as Chillup in 1951, was instantly popular and it is estimated that at its height her food kiosk was selling a whopping 10,000 Currywurst per week. Her unique but simple recipe has often been nicknamed as the "poor man's steak", demonstrating how the Currywurst was able to appeal to the masses during a time of recovery and reconstruction for the German nation. It is for this reason that the humble Currywurst is so emblematic within German society. The Currywurst is much more than a simple snack, it represents on a historical and symbolic scale the importance of unity, creativity and innovation during a time of collective struggle.

Traditional Currywurst

Traditional Currywurst
© teka77/123RF
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Charlie Campbell
Posted on 12/09/2017 10 shares
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