Tradition of „Printen“, marzipan and jam Sweet Aachen
Aachen’s a sweet place. Sweet little shops, sweet little pedestrian precincts, sweet little passages – and home to lots of sweetmeats too.
Chocolate from the imperial city
- First produced by Leonhard Monheim in 1857
- Sold across Germany since 1935
- Lindt manufacturing in Aachen since 1988
- Factory outlet on Bendplatz square: a big favourite
Back in the days when chocolate was still a medicine it was made in the city’s Monheims Pharmacy (now the Couven-Museum). Global exporters Lambertz and Zentis were both founded in Aachen and still have their head offices here. The Lindt factory sales outlet is also highly popular. Sweet Aachen often means boxed chocolates, marzipan, jam preserves and chocolate itself, but the best-known ambassador of Aachen sweetmeats has to be the “Printe” (plural: “Printen”).
“Aachen Printen are – tough!” is the cry Aachen’s handball teams use to boost motivation levels before key matches. At Alemannia Aachen Football Club the prospect of a lifetime’s supply of Printen has long been a near-guarantee of extracting footballing prowess, and when an Aachener goes on his travels he’s sure to take some Printen along as a gift for his hosts – and quite right too, considering its resilience, long use-by date, easy storage and fantastic taste.
But what actually is a “Printe”?
You’ll find them right at the front of the shop window in Aachen’s many bakeries – a mixture of honey-cake and gingerbread. Either with chocolate, nuts, marzipan or just “as they are”. Legend has it that Printen were Charlemagne’s favourite nibble, and in fact the cross-border success of this Aachen speciality does stretch back almost to the days of the great emperor himself, with this type of cakebread produced for the first time around 1,000 years ago in the Belgian town of Dinant. The story is told of how a Belgian copper smelter who created the Charlemagne statue in 1620 used to eat them during his lunch break, so awakening the interest of the Aachen townsfolk. The reason true Aachen Printen have a tough, chewy consistency is all down to Napoleon, whose trade embargo meant Aacheners had to make do with sugar-beet molasses.
Chewy and without any coating – that’s still how your traditional Öcher likes his or her Printen. Export Printen, on the other hand, nowadays tend to be softer, using refined techniques to pamper the palates of the world. But who on earth wants to read about how delicious something is when it’s there just waiting to be sampled…
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