For years now, visitors at Meier’s stand at the Braunschweig Christmas Market in Lower Saxony have been forming long queues just to have a taste of the 48-year-old’s famous almonds.
But customers don’t seem to mind the wait; many of them pass the time chatting with Markus Meier himself. They have to be careful not to distract him too much though; he constantly has to stir the almonds using a wooden spoon in his right hand while his left hand holds a copper kettle over a gas flame – and he has to be quick.
The father of three says that making sweet nuts has been his main business for the past 24 years and that he’s used to having little time for his private life during the busy Christmas season.
A typical queue at Meier's stand. Photo: DPA.
In 2001, the 48-year-old entered the Guinness Book of Records for producing candied almonds non-stop for 30 hours and 45 minutes. All of the proceeds from the event were donated to a children’s cancer charity.
Meier set up his business with financial support from his parents in 1993, when he discontinued his studies in computer science. But the almond man’s fascination for sweetened nuts goes back even further than that.
His parents used to have a lard cake bakery which they operated at fairs, and as a child Meier was sometimes given candied almonds from the stand opposite theirs.
Nowadays in order to cope with the physical demands of his work, he takes dietary supplements and eats protein bars all year round.
“The joints are still working,” he says. “As long as it stays that way, I'll keep going.”
For those looking to try their hand at making candied almonds for themselves, Meier makes no secret of his recipe. He prefers using the Largueta almond variety from Spain and his ingredients include vanilla, butter and sugar.