A Culinary Journey Back in Time to the GDR

Almost 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, consumer goods from East Germany are still flying off the shelves in our supermarkets.

Many Germans love a particularly quaffable brand of sparkling wine named after a fairy-tale character: Rotkäppchen, which is German for Little Red Riding Hood. Before reunification, the “VEB Rotkäppchen Sektkellerei” was considered a model of East German industry and one of the most successful wineries in East Germany. After the fall of the Wall, sales initially collapsed as many East Germans couldn’t wait to try out Western products. The mid-90’s saw a trend reversal, and since then no festive occasion would be complete without at least one bottle of Rotkäppchen on the table.

Necessity is the mother of invention 

Almost equally popular is the nutty breakfast spread produced by the Nudossi company. The sweets manufacturer, which had previously specialised in truffles and cocoa products, started making the spread in the 1970’s. Although originally born out of necessity, the Nudossi spread sold very well in East Germany. Nudossi has always had a very high nut content compared to similar products. This was because in East Germany hazelnuts were cheaper than artificial flavourings. The Nudossi factory closed its gates after the fall of the Wall and fans had to look elsewhere to feed their sweet tooth. Production resumed in the mid-90’s. Today, the Nutella competitor is hugely successful once again, with a daily production volume of almost six tons.

OSTPRO – tradeshow for fans of East German products 

These are only two of many examples of GDR products that remain popular today. There are countless others, ranging from crispbread, mustard and chocolate to textiles. Why not try thick plum jam from Thuringia, another typical East German delicacy? Or quench your thirst with Vita Cola the next time you have a picnic – a refreshing Coca Cola substitute first bottled in 1957. Here are a few other East German brands that are very popular all over contemporary Germany: Bautz‘ner Senf, Spreewald Gurken, Filinchen Knusperscheiben and Fit washing-up liquid.

To experience, taste or try all these products in one place, look no further than the OSTPRO Regional Consumer Goods Exhibition . Over 150 companies from the former East Germany present their products, including many authentic GDR products, at the annual event in Berlin and some other cities, e.g. Dresden and Potsdam. The next OSTPRO will take place at the Velodrom in Berlin from 16 to 18 October. .

A GDR-style dining experience

Berlin boasts several restaurants that serve typical East German dishes. Head to Das Design Restaurant (DDR) Volkskammer for East Berlin flair and flavours. Housed in an authentic Plattenbau built with prefabricated concrete slabs close to the Ostbahnhof (Straße der Pariser Kommune 18b in Berlin-Friedrichshain), the restaurant’s menu includes Würzfleisch (ragout), Soljanka (spicy East European soup) and Jägerschnitzel (breaded and fried chasseur sausage). Close to the Volkspark Friedrichshain, the Speisegaststätte PILA also deals in GDR nostalgia and typical East German dishes.

Almost 25 years have passed since the reunification of East and West Germany. To get a taste of life in the GDR, grab some Rotkäppchen Sekt or Nudossi spread next time you go shopping, or head to a GDR-themed restaurant. Guten Appetit!