February 05, 2008
Currywurst and Champagne
Posted by Gordon Smith

If you have been to Berlin, I assume that you have sampled Currywurst. I prefer Bosner (or Bosna) Wurst, which I encountered as a Mormon missionary in Linz, Austria, but the core ingredients are the same: sausage/hot dog, ketchup/tomato sauce, and curry powder. (The Bosner also has onions and a bun.)

Butchers in Berlin who make sausages for Currywurst are upset by imported sausages from other EU member states. So the butchers have applied for "geographic indication" protection, like that afforded "Champagne" or "Parmigiano Reggiano." The butchers want their sausage to be known as "Berliner Currywurst." The problem is that the sausages don't become "Berliner Currywurst" until you top them off with tomato sauce and curry powder. As explained by Axel Nordemann is an attorney with Boehmert and Boehmert, one of Germany's top intellectual property law firms:

The sausage itself is not a Berliner currywurst, it needs something additionally to become a currywurst. You see, you can take this ground sausage for the currywurst, you can take it and eat it with mustard, and then it's certainly not a Berliner currywurst.

As noted by Nordemann, the average consumer of Berliner Currywurst can't tell the difference between the local sausages and the imports. "Es ist mir wurst," so to say.

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