‘More than just a sausage’: German Currywurst Museum closing after 10 years

After nearly a decade, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum will be closing its doors permanently at the end of this week. The final day to visit the interactive exhibition dedicated to Berlin’s most beloved street food is Friday, December 21st.

'More than just a sausage': German Currywurst Museum closing after 10 years
The Currywurst Museum's fitting mascot waves hello (and goodbye) to visitors. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin

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.”

SEE ALSO: Currywurst museum coming to Berlin (2009)

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.

SEE ALSO: Currywurst – the Berlin dish that wouldn't exist without the British

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.”

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.