The idea for the Berlin-based museum was first conceived by local entrepreneur Martin Löwer in 2005. Dedicated to bringing the history of Berlin’s favourite sausage snack to life, Löwer spent nearly four years developing the project: coordinating investments, designing the concept, and overseeing the construction.
Over the years, the museum has hosted over one million visitors at its Schützenstraße location, all of whom were eager to learn a little more about Berlin’s most popular street food. The exhibition will be wrapping up its successful run with the expiration of its lease at the end of 2018.
For now, the contents of the exhibit – including the sausage-shaped sofa – will be removed from the space and placed into storage, awaiting their re-incarnation as a travelling exhibit which, according to the museum, is intended to serve as “a culinary ambassador to make the cult snack from Berlin even better known internationally”.
If you find yourself in need of a break, the sausage-shaped sofa is the perfect place to relish in the quirkiness of the museum. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin.
More than just a sausage
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the invention of the Currywurst, the museum officially opened its doors on August 15th, 2009, welcoming visitors with the slogan: “Currywurst is more than just a sausage – it’s one of life’s experiences in Germany.”
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Located just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie, the museum offers a playful engagement with Berlin’s Cold War history. As soon as you are inside, you can dive right into Currywurst culture by picking up a ketchup bottle at one of two audio stations and hum along to Herbert Grönemeyer’s 1982 tune about the street food.
Visitors ketch-ing up on the history on currywurst. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum.
In the main area of the museum, visitors are invited to follow a trail of the famous Currywurst sauce as they learn more about the popular street food. A large map of Berlin, dotted with sausage bites representing vendors across the city, shows visitors where they’ll be able to to find another taste of Berlin’s Currywurst culture after their visit is over.
Currywurst aficionados can take photos posing as a sausage seller in a life-sized Wurst stand or test your on-the-job skills by playing a virtual Currywurst-making game aptly called “Curry Up!”.
Beyond the more entertaining aspects of the museum, the museum also addresses the history of the Currywurst. Setting aside long-standing disputes about the origins of the dish, the museum shines a spotlight on Berlin-based entrepreneur Herta Heuwer as its’ official inventor.
Her culinary genius is placed in the context of postwar Berlin, where ingenuity and improvisation were necessary to overcome the challenges associated with economic recovery.
From a sausage stand to international fame
According to the narrative produced here, Heuwer began by selling snacks from a hawker’s tray until she’d saved enough to buy an old van and convert it into a sausage stand.
It was there, at her stand at the corner of Kantstrstraße and Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße in Berlin-Charlottenburg, that Heuwer first began serving her tasty creation in September of 1949. Within just a few months, she opened a second stand nearby. Altogether, nineteen staff worked for her, sizzling sausages around the clock for over 25 years.
Although Heuwer patented what she called her ‘Chillup’ sauce in 1959, she took her famed recipe to the grave when she passed on in 1999. However, her legacy certainly lives on with Berliners eating an estimated 70 million portions of Currywurst each year.
A man eating a typical portion of currywurst and pommes in Berlin. Photo: DPA
In fact, you don’t even have to be in Berlin, or even in Germany, to get a taste of a Currywurst anymore. The museum reminds us that you can also enjoy the dish in many places around the world, ranging from Tokyo’s Roppongi district to one of Canada’s offshore islands.
With only a few opening days left, the once over-loaded shelves of the museum’s gift shop are almost bare and only a few visitors mill about the exhibition space. One visitor, Emma Woodward from the U.K., reflects on her recently completed visit, “It’s a very quirky museum. The best part was ‘cooking’ the Currywurst.” Between bites of the complimentary Currywurst provided by the museum to every guest with a ticket, she quickly adds, “It’s a real shame that it’s closing.”