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Hanna Grimm / kbmJanuary 3, 2014

Eat your soup - or else!

A girl at the table refusing to eat, Photo: Tatyana Gladskih
Image: Fotolia/Tatyana Gladskih

Heinrich Hoffmann's children's classic from 1845, "Der Struwwelpeter," begins with a healthy young boy named Kasper who is sitting at the dinner table, but refuses to eat his soup.

Many parents today would probably say, "Don't worry, he'll grow out of it," make something else for the picky-eater or even take Kasper to the psychiatrist to be treated for anorexia. Few, however, would likely let him waste away.

In the story, however, Kasper - known as the Suppenkasper (Soup Kasper) - is so adamant about not eating his soup that he dies of hunger after five days of self-imposed starvation. Back in the mid-19th century, the book was intended as a child-rearing aide, to frighten unruly children into cleaning their plates. These days, such a tale would be considered psychological manipulation.

Even though today's parents more often play games to get the full spoon into their toddler's mouth, the term Suppenkasper has endured and every German knows deep down, they'd better eat their soup - or else!