Germans eat more than 800 million currywurst a year. To celebrate the country's 60-year love affair with the sausage doused in ketchup and spices, the currywurst is getting its very own museum.
Tucked away behind the infamous Checkpoint Charlie border crossing that marked the beginning of the Soviet-sector in occupied Berlin, the city's newest museum dedicates its 600 square meters (6,460 square feet) to the currywurst. The German Currywurst Museum is set to throw open its doors to the public on Saturday, Aug. 15.
The museum is aimed at adults and children
Martin Loewer, the man behind the concept and the museum's curator, came up with the idea four years ago while on holiday in Jamaica.
The museum has taken 5 million euros ($7 million) of investments to get off the ground and is expecting up to 350,000 visitors a year. Loewer says he doesn't expect to make big profits. It's about giving something to the public.
"I love eating currywurst and have had many nice experiences at currywurst stands. And when you look at the fantastic culture of fast food stands in Berlin and the fact that just 10 minutes from the museum there are 10 different possibilities to eat currywurst, you know it is an integral part of Berlin life," Loewer says.
Visitors can listen to currywurst-inspired songs through a ketchup bottle
Visitors coming into the museum will be greeted by a life-size currywurst mascot and a replica fast-food stand. A small gift shop selling currywurst memorabilia is the most commercial aspect of the museum.
Otherwise, the small space offers an interactive tour that traces the currywurst's small beginnings to today's success and a touch and smell journey through the different spices that make up the traditional curry sauce.
Who invented the currywurst?
Despite a heated debate over whether the sauce was invented in Berlin or Germany's port city of Hamburg the museum has given the honor to Herta Heuwer, a Berliner living in the former British sector. Looking to provide a tasty snack on postwar rations, Heuwer produced her winning mix of tomato ketchup and 12 spices in 1949. Loewer justifies his choice with the patent certificate dated 1951 and bearing the number 721319.
The museum also offers a quick tour of the currywurst's appearances in pop culture. Ketchup bottles double as headphones through which visitors can listen to German pop icon Herbert Groenemeyer singing about the cure-all currywurst as well as German comedian and jazz musician Helge Schneider with his 2005 release of "The Chip Stand."
The real deal
With Berliners alone consuming 70 million of the spicy snack, the currywurst is more than just a sausage, at least according to Loewer.
"The currywurst is a cult icon for Berlin. People from all walks of life enjoy the experience of the occasional currywurst. Its uncomplicated, and that is what people want and like," he says.
The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with entrance costing between 7 and 11 euros.
Author: Tanya Wood
Editor: Nancy Isenson