Written By: Kelly Dunning
A trip to Berlin would not be complete without stopping at a street cart and ordering yourself a big juicy currywurst. This simple yet delicious German fast food dish is immensely popular and it’s easy to get addicted to its unique taste.
A currywurst is a large, juicy fried German pork sausage which is then cut into sliced and topped with ketchup and curry powder. It is often served with fries and it will be handed to you in a cardboard tray with a small plastic fork to eat it with. Approximately 800 million of these snacks are eaten in Germany every year and a recent study suggested that 80% of Germans consider currywurst a central part of their diet.
So how did this somewhat odd combination of ketchup, sausage and curry become part of German cuisine? It is thought that currywurst was invented by Herta Heuwer in 1949 in Berlin, after she had obtained curry powder and ketchup from British soldiers in Germany. She had a fast food stand and was looking for new ideas for a food that would appeal to the masses. Her husband worked with many Americans and she noticed that they loved to pour ketchup over their steaks.
Steak was too expensive to serve at a fast food stand, so she used a humble sausage instead. In order to complement the spicy taste of the sausage and to make the dish more interesting, she added the curry powder.
Heuwer began selling this cheap, tasty and filling snack at her street stand in the Charlottenburg district. It was a huge hit, especially with the hungry construction workers who were busy rebuilding the city. At the height of its popularity, her little stand was serving 10,000 sausages per week! She called the curry ketchup sauce “Chillup” and patented it in 1951. She soon opened her own restaurant, which operated until 1974.
These days currywurst is popular all over Germany, especially in Berlin, Hamburg and the Ruhr Area. It is almost always served on the street, but is also available at diners and fast food locations. The dish has become an icon in German culture and there is a tradition that every candidate for mayor of Berlin is photographed at a currywurst stand. Berlin even has a Deutsches Currywurst Museum commemorating the historic of this famous sausage, so after you chow down on this street food snack you can visit and learn more!