Aromat – everyone who grew up in Switzerland knows the sun-yellow can with the golden powder. There are two reasons for this:
Swiss people who live abroad often want souvenirs from visitors that remind them of their homeland. In addition to Lindt chocolate and Emmental, this is often an inconspicuous sprinkle that everyone who grew up here knows: the good old Aromat. It is currently tight in Switzerland, partly because Migros is fighting a price war with the manufacturer Knorr.
On the Aromat can, the red Knorrli beckons on a sunny yellow background, reminding us of childhood excursion restaurants.
The yellow shakers stood on their tables in so-called “Menage” – later next to another classic, the liquid Maggi Würze (long overdue note for readers with a German background: the correct pronunciation in this country is “Matschi”, with “tsch”, not with double G . That had to be clarified please. Thank you very much!).
A brilliant boss and a brilliant promotion
But we digress – back to the true taste of home: the much-loved aromat, which gives bread and butter, stews, soups, tomatoes, eggs with mayo and actually everything that tolerates salt its very own, hearty whistle by means of a golden trickle – and thus has a decisive competitive advantage. Because the contemporary competing products – whatever there is in terms of bouillon cubes and liquid seasonings – all color the food to be seasoned brown. Muffy just. In comparison, Aromat looks like sun out of a can.
Perhaps that’s why the Patriot even forgives the fact that Aromat is by no means a purely Swiss product, but half of it is of German origin: the German food producer Knorr, a family business with its origins in Heilbronn, has been selling the spice mix in cans since 1953. At least one Swiss person invented the formula for success. In 1945, at the age of almost 30, Walter Obrist took up a new position in the Swiss production facility in Thayngen, near Schaffhausen. He is anything but a blank slate: Before that, he was head chef at the Vitznauerhof, which was famous then – and still is today – an upscale gastronomy company on Lake Lucerne.
The Swiss love it rough
Knorr has the poached young visionary to thank for huge sales: Obrist has a knack for reducing cooking times in a way that is suitable for industry and at the same time appealing to mass tastes. Among other things, he reinvented the Päckli tomato soup, but also the Knorr noodle soup with chicken. And the aroma.
In 1952, the recipe, which has remained secret to this day, was completed after months of traveling to research spices, regional taste preferences and herbs. Inside, fairly unchanged since the 1950s, are yeast extract, wheat glutamate, vegetable fat, vegetables, spices and salt. There is no further information. The spice differs only in its fineness: the Swiss like it coarse, the German prefer finer grains, while the golden medium grain is successful in France.
With sprinkles to mass success
After initially hesitant sales in the form of soup cubes, Knorr came up with an ingenious advertising strategy: in 1953, the food giant had the Ticino artist Hans Tomamichel invent the figure of Knorrli, launched the yellow shaker and distributed 30,000 cruets to Swiss restaurants. Within ten months, 80 percent of Swiss people know the Aromat brand, which incidentally fits perfectly into the spirit of the 1950s; in the household is automated – washing machines, electric stoves, vacuum cleaners promise time savings. Seasoning (shake once, taste immediately) fits perfectly into the concept.
Only one drop of bitterness has recently diminished the success story: one of the main components, the flavor enhancer glutamate, is now being demonized by nutrition-conscious people. In general, the signs of modernity tend towards slow food rather than industrially accelerated cooking.
Knorr, which, by the way, now belongs to Unilever and is therefore even less Swiss and more a Dutch-British product, does not provide any sales figures when asked – which probably indicates that these are actually declining. Instead, the company relies on alternatives: glutamate has been replaced by yeast flakes in one recipe. So that the next four generations will still be happy to let it trickle golden.
Would you like to see this supplementary content (Tweet, Instagram, etc.)? If you agree that cookies are set and data is thereby transmitted to external providers, you can allow all cookies and display external content directly.