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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.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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