SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

CULTURE

Nine inventions you might be surprised are actually Austrian

OK so we know about Arnie, but there are plenty of Austrian discoveries that you might not know are actually Austrian. Here are a few surprises.

Nine inventions you might be surprised are actually Austrian
Pez. It's Austrian. Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash

From famous to infamous, there are plenty of well known people who come from Austria. 

For centuries, Mozart has been synonymous with Austria and Salzburg, while Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the most famous living Austrian. 

Then of course there’s Adolf, but this list is about things that are surprisingly Austrian, so the less said about him the better. 

The following are some Austrian contributions to the world you might be surprised about. Read on!

Red Bull

OK so most of you know this, but Austria is indeed responsible for the energy drink Red Bull. 

The highest selling energy drink in the world, Red Bull was created and marketed by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz. 

He was inspired by a pre-existing energy drink named Krating Daeng – translating to ‘red bison’ – which was first invented and sold in Thailand. 

He took this idea, modified the ingredients to suit the tastes of westerners, and founded Red Bull GmbH in Austria in 1987. 

As of 2021, he’s amassed a fortune of close to $30 billion and just sneaks into the top 40 richest people in the world. 

Snow globes

Yes, snow globes (Schneekugel) were actually invented in Austria. 

They were invented by Austrian Erwin Perzy, a manufacturer or surgical instruments, by accident in the 1800s. 

Perzy had been hoping to develop an extra bright source of light and had been experimenting with small reflective particles. 

When he moved the globe, the effect reminded him of snowfall and he got the idea. 

Perzy’s family still run a business manufacturing and selling snow globes in Vienna, where they are still made from glass and the material used to make up the snow is still a secret. 

Australian snow globes. By Tangerineduel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Danishes (yes, really)

A breakfast and afternoon tea staple across the globe, it might be a surprise to find out that the Danish doesn’t come from Denmark at all. 

Don’t believe us? Ask the Danish. This is already starting to sound like a bad Pulp Fiction impression, but do you know what they call a Danish in Denmark? 

Vienna bread. No, seriously. 

The way of making Danishes – a variant of puff pastry made of laminated yeast-leavened dough that creates a layered texture – was brought to Copenhagen by Austrian bakers. 

The name became prominent when Danish people made the move to the United States and the pastries became popular – and the rest is tasty, tasty history. 

Postcards

In 1869 economist Emanuel Alexander Herrmann published an article in Austria’s paper Neue Freie Presse “Über eine neue Art des Korrespondenzmittels der Post”, or “About a novel means of postal correspondence”.

The letter proposed that all envelope-size cards, whether written, produced by copying machine, or printed, ought to be admitted as mail if they contained not more than 20 words including address and sender’s signature. 

Britain followed the Austrian example and introduced the postcard a year later.

An Austrian postcard from 1901. Image: Wikicommons

PEZ

Made of artificial colours and flavours. Squashed out of cartoon characters into artificial shapes. Zero nutritional value. What sounds more American than that?

But no, PEZ, the candy, is in fact Austrian. 

An Austrian by the name of Eduard Haas III invented the collectable cult sweet known as PEZ in 1927, as an alternative to smoking. 

PEZ is a shortened version of the German word for peppermint – PfeffErminZ. 

Twenty years later Haas invented the PEZ dispenser, which resembles a cigarette lighter. 

The sweets were originally targeted at adults and it was not until the 1950s when PEZ began to be sold in America, that the cartoon character tops and fruity flavours were added to appeal to children.

Psychoanalysis

OK, so you knew Sigmund Freud was going to make an appearance in this list somewhere. 

The father of making you worry that you were attracted to your mother was famous for a range of things, including novel approach to sex, dreams and penis envy. 

While some of his techniques and ideas haven’t aged as well as he’d like, his contribution to therapy – and in particular psychoanalysis – was and remains revolutionary. 

Psychoanalysis was popularised by Sigmund Freud. 

In creating a clinical method for treating mental illnesses through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Freud developed techniques such as the use of free association. 

The Vienna flat where he lived for 47 years, and produced the majority of his writings, is now a museum documenting his life and work. 

However his famous couch is in the Freud Museum in London, as Freud took his furniture with him when he fled German-annexed Austria to avoid Nazi prosecution.

Slo-mo/slow motion

Speak to a German and they’ll tell you that things tend to be a little slower in Austria – but that’s not what we mean by inventing slo/mo. 

We mean slow motion camera footage. 

Slo-mo is an effect in film-making where time appears to be slowed down. 

It was invented by an Austrian priest, August Musger, in the early 20th century. 

Musger, a passionate cineaste, invented the slow motion technique using a mirrored drum as a synchronising mechanism. 

The device he used was patented in 1904 and was first presented in Graz, Styria in 1907. Where would television sport broadcasts, scientific documentary films, or action movies be without slowmo?

Slow motion is Austrian.

Swarovski crystals

Swarovski’s luxury cut glass (or ‘crystal’) company might have come to worldwide fame, but it is in fact based in Tyrol. 

In 1892 Daniel Swarovski patented an electric cutting machine that enabled the production of crystal glass.

In 1895, Swarovski financier Armand Kosman and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, and established a factory in Wattens to take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes. 

Today Swarovski crystals adorn clothes, shoes, handbags and mobile phones of classy people everywhere. 

Blood types

OK, so Austria didn’t technically invent blood types because they were actually invented by whoever invented blood, but blood types were first discovered in Austria. 

Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian biologist and physician, first distinguished the main blood types in 1900. 

He later identified the Rhesus factor, in 1937, which enabled doctors to transfuse blood without endangering the patient′s life. 

In 1930 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and is recognised as the father of transfusion medicine.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Which Austrian states offer free public kindergartens?

Salzburg has joined the list of states to offer free public kindergarten care to children aged between three and six years old. Where else can parents expect aid with childcare in Austria?

Which Austrian states offer free public kindergartens?

This week, Salzburg’s state government announced that it had reached a deal offer free part-time kindergarten care for children aged from three to six years old. The government has set aside €13 million to fund the care. 

The new offer will be introduced on April 1st, according to an ORF broadcast.

Wolfgang Mayer, chairman of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), said: “We are noticeably relieving Salzburg’s families and setting a milestone in childcare. Overall, a very good day for Salzburg’s families .”

Even though every party supported the decision, there was some criticism that it was “not enough”. For the liberal NEOS, for example, free half-day care is just a first step, Salzburg24 reported. The party continues to push for all-day care. Centre-left SPÖ also said there is still a need to offer free childcare options for children younger than three. 

READ ALSO: How does the cost of childcare in Austria compare to other countries?

How do other states stack up when it comes to childcare?

By federal law, part-time daycare is free of charge for children from the age of five throughout Austria. However, other provinces have different offers:

  • Burgenland: all-day care free of charge care for children up to age six
  • Lower Austria: part-time daycare free of charge for children between 2.5 and six
  • Upper Austria: part-time daycare free of charge for children between 2.5 and six
  • Tyrol: part-time daycare free of charge for children between four and six
  • Vienna: all-day care free of charge for children up to six

Salzburg now joins the list of provinces which have expanded the minimum federal requirements. Carinthia, Styria and Vorarlberg still only have part-time daycare free for 5-year-olds. From age 6, children in Austria then join compulsory schooling. 

In general, childcare in Austria is seen positively, especially by foreigners. A The Local poll from October 2022 found that 50 percent of readers surveyed described it as “good”, followed by 25 percent who said childcare in Austria was “very good”.

Shyam from India described childcare in Austria as “very good” before adding: “My country doesn’t have any support for childcare.”

Similarly, Marie in Klosterneuburg, but from the US, described it as “amazing”.

READ ALSO: ‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

How does the childcare system work?

In Austria, there are different types of care available before children reach mandatory school age, including nurseries for those under the age of three, kindergartens up to the age of six and workplace and university childcare centres.

In many parts of Austria, childcare for babies and toddlers up to the age of three takes place at day nurseries (Kinderkrippen), but there are other options, including Tagesmutterväter, where children are cared for in smaller groups. Later, they go to kindergartens before joining schools and moving on with their mandatory schooling.

Facilities are run privately or funded by the government, and the costs can vary. The family’s income and the number of childcare hours are considered when calculating fees.

Parents usually have to register for places in advance and some offers are very on demand. The location of the family is taken into account for spots in public schools. 

SHOW COMMENTS