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The Sweet You Have To Try in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Beautiful, tempting, delicious Schneeballen...another reason to love Rothenburg, Germany!

No trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is complete without a Schneeballen. This dessert is slightly bigger than a baseball and traditionally covered with confectioner's sugar. If you put enough sugar on, it looks like a snowball - hence the name Schneeballen. Tastes much better than a snowball though.. The Schneeballen have been tempting die-hard sugar fans for over 300 years in several parts of Bavaria. The origin story of the Schneeballen is unknown, but we do know they were originally baked for special occasions only, such as weddings or baptisms. Today you can buy Schneeballen all year round, many of them pre-packaged in gift boxes in Rothenburg, ready for you to share them with your loved ones. While Schneeballen are best eaten fresh, we were told that they have a shelf-life of about 8 weeks at room temperature.

How to Make a Schneeballen

The Schneeballen gets its wavy-ball-like shape from strips of shortcrust pastry that is alternately folded over a stick. Next, a quick 4-minute dunk in the fryer, then cover with a topping of your choice, not limited to confectioner's sugar. We spotted them dusted in cinnamon, chocolate or coconut flakes, and even filled with lemon or hazelnut cream at different stores all over Rothenburg. For those of you who would like to create a Schneeballen at home, here is a recipe, courtesy of Bavaria Tourismus.

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Not Just Any Chocolate Egg

not just ANY chocolate egg: Kinder Surprise Eggs

One of the favorite gifts of a German grandparent to their grandchild has to be Kinder Eggs, also known in the english-speaking parts of the world as Kinder Surprise, or Kinder Überraschung in Germany. Kids love to break apart (and eat a bit of) the chocolate egg to reveal a surprise toy hidden in a yellow plastic container. The toy variety can be a puzzle, a toy car, a Disney figurine, or a character of the Happy Hippos, who were THE hottest Kinder eggs toy in the 1990’s. My sister and I would stand in the supermarket, shaking egg after egg until we had one that did not rattle too much. Less rattle means less small pieces. We did not want to build a puzzle, we wanted a solid Happy Hippo figurine to play with!

Technically Italian

While the word Kinder means children in German, this candy was not invented in Germany. Kinder Surprise originated in 1974 in Italy as Kinder Sorpresa, produced by the Ferrero company. If the name Ferrero does not ring a bell, they are better known for their amazing hazelnut spread Nutella, or their breath mint Tic Tac here in the United States.

Why Are Kinder Eggs Illegal to Import to the USA?

Kinder Surprise eggs are legal to buy and enjoy in Germany and Europe, however, they are deemed illegal in the United States. Why is that? We have to look back all the way to 1938 when the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted. It contains a passage stating that a “confectionery product with a non-nutritive object, partially or totally embedded within it cannot be sold within the United States, unless the FDA issues a regulation that the non-nutritive object has functional value”. This means that all candies embedded with “non-nutritive objects,” such as toys, are illegal in the United States. The main reason is that the toy inside could potentially present a choking hazard for kids.

Here's What You Should Bring Home Instead

So, the one thing you should not bring home from your German vacation is Kinder Surprise. Get caught with one of those candy eggs and you may face a fine up to $2,500 per egg. In 2010 alone, 25,000 Kinder Surprise eggs were seized in 1,700 incidents. Instead, grab the Kinder Happy Hippo Candy, which is one of our absolute favorites and fills our luggage on every trip back from Germany. Due to the popularity of the Happy Hippo figurines, Kinder created a candy around the characters. These are Denise's absolute favorite! But, even the cashier probably could figure that out.

Happy Hippos! My favorite German sweet!

Bonus Resources

Read Are you willing to give up your rights to your Kinder Egg?

Read $2,500 Fine for a 2 euro chocolate?

See an impressive Happy Hippo Kinder Egg Toy Collection

Watch a commercial for a Kinder Surprise, to see how they're marketed

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Kaffee & Kuchen: A German Tradition You’ll Love

Denise and I had been married for several years before she realized that Kaffee und Kuchen was a German tradition. She simply thought my family had a serious coffee and cake habit, one of many reasons why she loves my family!

Kaffee und Kuchen, a German Tradition You'll Love with Plum Cake Pictured

Kaffee und Kuchen, Coffee and Cake

Kaffee & Kuchen is a casual get-together in the afternoon, usually around 3:30pm, either at a coffee house or in a private home. Its as simple as it sounds, everyone eats cake, and most drink coffee or tea. Kaffee und Kuchen is also referred to as a Zwischenmahlzeit, meaning a meal between meals, comparable to the British tradition of tea time.

When is Kaffee und Kuchen?

The most common day for Kaffee und Kuchen to happen is Sunday. Most Germans are off work, sleep long, have a late breakfast and read the newspaper. After a stroll through a park or the city, in the afternoon it is time for Kaffee und Kuchen. Germans will also have coffee and cake for someone’s birthday or other family celebration.

Let's Talk Cake...

The abundance of bakeries and cafes in German cities offer many varieties of cake for people who do not want to bake and prefer to pick up a cake to share with the rest of the group. There isn’t one specific kind of cake for Kaffee und Kuchen, it can range from an elaborate decorated cake made by a bakery to a simple grocery store-bought sponge cake topped with seasonal fruit like strawberries or cherries. As a child I always looked forward to Kaffee und Kuchen, even though I never liked coffee. The different varieties of cake were right up my alley, and I would eat as much cake as I could in record time. It was a great treat for me. I was always worried one of my favorite cakes (plum pictured above or strawberry, followed by cheesecake with tangerine pieces) would be gone before I'd had a piece. Then came the hard part...

I was stuffed and happy, wanting to lay down and relax. However, this was always the part where my grandparents wanted to hear how my grades were, if I get along with my sister, or even have a girlfriend already. In between there was grown-up talk about the changing weather, upcoming holiday plans and other family members. Needless to say, this is the most boring and tiresome part of Kaffee und Kuchen, especially for a child who wants to go into the next room to watch TV or crack another high score in Tetris rather than answer an adult’s questions.

Kaffee und Kuchen, a German Tradition You'll Love

The older I become and the less I see my family during the year, the more I look forward to the first afternoon get-together when I arrive in Germany. I still prefer the cake over the coffee, but I also treasure hearing everybody's stories and adventures since the last time I have seen them. Next time you are in Germany, enjoy the chance to indulge in sweet, buttery desserts in the afternoon and spend time with family and friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Things You Might Not Know About the Hofbrauhaus in Munich

Things you may not know about the Hofbräuhaus, Munich • Tourist is a Dirty Word Germany Travel Blog

This place is packed, we are never going to find an open table.

Scanning the room for a place to sit, or a hostess, we wandered through half of the Hofbräuhaus, stressed waitresses passing us with plates of food and glasses full of beer. We knew we wanted a taste of everything on those trays. At a loss, I stopped one of the waitresses near the tables, and I politely asked her how to find a table.

I knew the answer, you simply had to ask someone already sitting at the table, or wait for someone to leave, but I was not in the mood for either. The waitress smiled at me, then shouted towards the patrons on a nearby table to huddle together and make space for our group of four. This was going to be comfy! And it was.

Hofbräuhaus History and Folk Tales

The Hofbräuhaus is the oldest beer hall in Munich, and self-proclaimed 'The most famous tavern in the world”. On September 27, 1589, the Duke of Bavaria founded a brewery on the site of the Munich royal residence of that time, which lasted until 1808. The Duke preferred a dark, malty beer, while his son Maximilian favored Weissbier, which means 'white beer' in German. In the United States the white beer brew is usually found under the name Hefeweizen.

The brewery of the Duke kept brewing only the dark beer variant, which resulted in Maximilian building his own brewery in 1607. In the beginning the beer hall was filled with brewing equipment, which was later moved and more than 1000 guests can find a seat in the beer hall of the Hofbräuhaus today. About half of the visitors are regulars, the other half tourists. And legend has it, that one of the 1000 guests is actually an angel – based on the folk tale “Ein Münchner im Himmel”.

It tells the story of Alois Hingerl, a porter on Munich’s central station, who dies and goes to heaven. But Alois does not like heaven with all the singing and worshiping all day long, irritating other angels around him that he wants to go back to Munich. After fussing for a while, God decides to send him on a mission back to earth, delivering an important message to the Bavarian government. Alois Hingerl takes off and ends up in the Hofbräuhaus instead of delivering the message. He orders a beer, and another one, and based on the folklore story, still sits there at one of the tables to this day while the Bavarian government is patiently waiting for heavenly advice to come their way. The TV Channel Bayrischer Rundfunk made a comic based on the story, you can see the video here, starting with Alois flying back to Munich with a letter in his hand:

Hofbräuhaus Beer Stein Lockers

With Alois Hingerl always being around in spirit and many Munich regulars visiting, the Hofbräuhaus caters to them by providing over 400 tankard lockers. That way you do not have to take your beer glass home every time. However, the limited amount of lockers translates into a long wait list - just in case you were toying with the idea of getting yourself a personal locker there. List wait times can be several years, many lockers are handed down from generation to generation.

Getting a Table at Hofbräuhaus, Munich

Besides the local crowd you will find a lot of tourists there, too. The central location, good food, overall typical Bavarian atmosphere complete with live band and waitresses wearing dirndls, is a magnet for many. You will find most tables full of people. You can either ask a waitress if she knows where open spaces are or look around yourself and ask those sitting at half-empty tables, “Ist hier frei?”, which means “is this spot taken?” Don’t be shy! If you cannot find a place inside, check the beer garden area outside with another 400 seats - weather permitting of course.

Sing-a-long Time

You did not walk into the set of a musical. Public singing is perfectly normal at the Hofbräuhaus. Chime in with the live band that plays several times per hour. They usually play...

“In München Steht ein Hofbräuhaus”

OR “Ein Prosit”....

so you can practice before you go.

If you have been to the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, let us know how your visit went. And if you plan on going there and have a question, let us know, too. Just leave us a comment below this post.

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Hofbräuhaus, Munich • Be prepared to sing along with everyone in the restaurant! • Tourist is a Dirty Word Germany Travel Blog


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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler