14.12.2023 • History
Few brands are as associated with the most important family celebration of the year as our company. Why Dr. Oetker should not be missing at Christmas is shown by a look back at history.
As early as 1891, in the first year of the Bielefeld Aschoff Pharmacy, which was taken over by Dr. August Oetker, the company founder issued recipes to customers. The earliest Dr. Oetker recipe booklet was an "almanac for the sick", in which remedies were described and examples of application for a wide variety of medical treatments were presented. After the introduction of the innovative baking powder Backin in 1893, the orientation of the recipes changed. The medical aspect took a back seat. In addition to baking instructions for the whole year, there were now also specific Christmas recipes. In 1899, for example, Dr. Oetker devoted a full-page advertisement in the then popular Berlin magazine "Die Woche" to the subject of Christmas.
Dr. Oetker Weihnachtsrezepte in der Zeitschrift ‚Die Woche‘, veröffentlicht 1899. Beschrieben wurden Christbaumkonfekt, Spekulatius oder weihnachtliche Grießmehlklöße.
Christmas advertising hardly changed over the next few decades. During the Advent season, the marketing strategy continued to focus primarily on advertisements and free booklets with recipe suggestions.
An advertisement with a recipe from 1904. Even then, speculoos was one of the most popular Christmas biscuits.
Special measures were the use of the Dr. Oetker fairy tale wagon in the 1930s or trading cards with Advent motifs, which were very popular at the turn of the 20th century.
The Dr. Oetker fairy tale wagon in 1935 on a winter mission. The theme was the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel and the trailer was designed like a gingerbread house.
By the end of the interwar period, Dr. Oetker had managed to be regarded as almost indispensable for private Christmas baking – and not only in Germany. Although the early post-war years were marked by renunciation, Dr. Oetker was able to increase the desire for the festive season again with his Advent advertising, which has since become kind of a tradition.
On November 3, 1956, the era of commercial television in Germany started with a spot of a well-known washing detergent on Bavarian television. Previously, commercials could only be seen in cinemas. On this day in November, however, Dr. Oetker's first TV commercial ran shortly afterwards. Mrs. Renate gave an insight into her bakery and baked a stollen in keeping with the Advent season, with the charming hint to use Dr. Oetker products and recipes. Over the next few years, the Christmas commercials with Mrs. Renate became an institution on German commercial television. Whether pepper nuts, spice wreath cake or gingerbread house – Renate always had the right recipes and products on offer.
Of course, Christmas also had and still has its place in the company. An example of this is the employee magazine: it has been around since 1954, when it was launched under the title "Der Helle Kopf" (The Bright Head) and published at that time with a remarkable aesthetic standard. The Christmas editions in particular stood out with their artistic covers. In addition, it was customary to print Christmas fairy tales to get in the mood for the approaching festivities. One article even dealt with the appearance and development of nativity scenes from all over the world. Of course, Christmas was also a prominent topic in the various Dr. Oetker customer magazines.
In 1971, Dr. Oetker introduced baking mixes. With them, baking became child's play. Shortly before the introduction of baking mixes, there were already whole frozen cakes and even ready-to-eat stollen available. Unfortunately, the latter did not last very long in the assortment. Today, however, the Christmas baking mixes have a permanent place in the portfolio and always surprise with new creations. If things don't work out as desired, our colleagues from the Consumer Service and the Test Kitchen are available as contact persons. They help in acute cases, advise on how long Advent cookies should last or how long the Christmas goose should stew in the oven. Consumers with baking and cooking experience, on the other hand, appreciate the exchange and the indication of creative ideas. However, the most popular recipes among consumers tend to remain the classics: vanilla crescents, cinnamon stars or nut wedges are always in fashion. The Dr. Oetker recipe "Garnet Splinters" is still as popular as it was when it was first published in the baking book "Festive Hours" in 1977. And, of course, baking for children. In addition to the biscuits, the gingerbread house is still the star of the Christmas bakery today – how nice that there is also something from Dr. Oetker there.