In 1806, pastry chef Johann Georg Niederegger decided to take over a local pastry shop in Lübeck. Born in Ulm, his decision to move to the old Hanseatic city of Lübeck was by no means coincidental. At the time, Lübeck was known for trading products from all over the world including almonds from the Mediterranean. Almonds, Niederegger knew all too well, was the primary raw material for one of the finest sweets at the time. Almonds and sugar. Lübeck was also famous for a product that is still synonymous with the picturesque city on the banks of the Trave River: marzipan.
Customers include dignitaries and famous people
Niederegger was a true visionary. His excellent marzipan made him a wealthy man and soon he was able to take over a building opposite the town hall. There, he opened a café and a pastry shop, which later turned into a marzipan manufactory. Urban councillors quickly became regular guests at Niederegger. Many important decisions in those days were probably discussed right over an enjoyable slice of marzipan pastry. Over time, guests at the Niederegger café included many dignitaries and famous people such as Tsar Alexander II, King Gustaph VI Adolph, Princess Margarethe of Sweden and politicians like France’s Jacques Chirac, Germany’s Theodor Heuss, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder, Björn Engholm and Joachim Gauck. Celebrities like Ludmilla Putin, the former wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin, actor Armin Müller-Stahl and designer Wolfgang Joop also frequented the café.
Still in existence opposite the town hall, the café attracts around 1 million visitors every year. For eight generations, Niederegger has been synonymous with marzipan made in Lübeck. Following the long tradition of Hanseatic tradesmen, the company has used its long history to establish far-reaching trade relations all over the world. Uncompromising quality is the main driver of the company’s success. Down through the centuries, Niederegger products have been made from pure marzipan gross mass without any additional sugar, artificial flavouring and additives whatsoever. The company favours almonds from the Mediterranean. Niederegger insists on pure in-house production. Only the best almonds are purchased and then peeled. Everything from the gross mass all the way to the finished product is done in Lübeck.
Still sorted manually
Although the small factory in the old town of Lübeck no longer exists, the original manufacturing processes are identical. The peeled almonds are still sorted by hand to achieve perfect taste. Then the almonds are ground with sugar and filled in copper vessels for gentle roasting. During this process, the sugar caramelizes and the mixture turns into a mass similar to the original marzipan mass made by pastry chef Niederegger over 300 years ago.
Today, Niederegger’s marzipan is produced in a cutting-edge factory plant in the Genin district of Lübeck. There, marzipan turns into a broad range of products, is coated in chocolate and wrapped for delivery to all corners of the globe. Most of this work is still done manually. During peak season, 650 of 750 employees at Niederegger work in production filling fancy gift boxes, colouring figurines and manufacturing marzipan products by hand. More than 30 tons of daily marzipan products are produced at the plant and delivered to gourmets all over the world.
Marzipan for real men
But tradition does not mean remaining stuck in the past. A thriving company is always innovative. Thus, traditional truffles and marzipan breads are no longer Niederegger’s only products. The popularity of marzipan among men prompted the company to launch an entire product range marked “Männersache“ or for men only. Salted cashew nuts are mixed with caramel to form a marzipan bread coated in rich milk chocolate. The range also includes nougat sticks with espresso, marzipan bars with apple, Bourbon-flavoured dark chocolate, chocolates with a truffle filling, and a surprising truffle bar that tastes of whisky and coke. Naturally, “real men” opt for a handy toolbox containing all these precious marzipan goodies. During the holiday season, men opt for a marzipan-filled calendar counting down the days until Christmas.
Driven by innovation and motivated by a tradition of more than 200 years, Niederegger is typical of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The company continues to deliver uncompromising quality goods to discerning chocolate-lovers all over the world.
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