Sizing up German confections
|Editor Bernie Pacyniak gets close and personal with life-size marzipan figures representing famous citizens of Lubeck, Germany, at the Niederegger Café and Museum located in the city center.|
Meet my new best friends, 12 life-size marzipan figures, representing famous Lübeck residents, from Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen to Thomas Mann.
Of course, in the center is Johann Georg Niederegger, founder of J.G. Niederegger GmbH & Co., KG, the famed manufacturers of premium marzipan products based in Lubeck. By the way, that’s me on the far right.
Listen, I couldn’t resist cuddling up to these noble marzipan figurines at the famed Niederegger Café and Museum, a destination must for anyone touring Germany, particularly since they made me look smaller. Give sculptor Johannes Kefer, who spent almost 3,500 hours shaping a half ton of marzipan into lifelike replicas, credit for creating art — and not consuming it.
So, how I did find myself in a marzipan museum, you ask? As our cover story details, it was part of a whirlwind tour of seven German confectionery companies sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and organized by the DEULA-Nienburg Educational Centre. Readers can find a detailed account of the seven manufacturers in this issue.
As I mention in the introduction to the article, the itinerary was quite grueling, particularly for an old curmudgeon like myself. You understand, I’m the type of guy who — once I check into a hotel — genuinely likes to stay there for the duration.
My wife tells me I must be the only person who actually takes all his clothes out of the suitcase and either hangs them up or places them in the dresser drawers, even if it’s for only one night. I compare it to a “settling in” ritual.
Nonetheless, the opportunity to visit all seven wonderful German confectionery companies — Coppenrath in Geeste; Hachez Schokolade in Bremen; Niederegger in Lübeck; Ragolds Sweet in Boizenburg; Lemke in Berlin, Viba in Schmalkalden; and Rübezahl in Dettingen/Teck — far outweighed any personal inconveniences.
I mean such an opportunity only comes once in a great while.
So, what were my general impressions from the trip? As the cover story details, it’s hard not to come away impressed. I saw everything from very traditional ways of handling confectionery to the most sophisticated and automated production lines possible.
There’s a great deal of passion behind the products that all these companies produce.
You can’t “sugar-coat” quality.
So, in case you’re wondering, that is the new global standard for confections. It’s clear to me that, thanks to my travels, whether you’re a confectioner in Germany or South Africa, Brazil or China, the bar’s been raised.
Quality and efficiency reign if you’re going to compete nationally, globally, heck, even locally.
Now mind you, the Europeans have been doing confections for a long period of time. Consumers there enjoy and demand quality. But as we all see, the world’s catching up quickly thanks to our digital exchange of information via the Internet and smart phones.
For me, the key learning from this trip involved confectioners finding ways to fuse tradition with technology, innovation with enjoyment. Thankfully, I know most of you already have taken that challenge to heart.