There is a very special tradition in Germany dating back to the 1800s that on the first day of school for children entering the first grade, they get what's known as a Schultüte (meaning school cone or bag). Much like a Christmas stocking, a Schultüte is a paper cone that should be decorated and filled with toys, sweets, and school supplies to start the year off right.
I had never heard of this tradition before I moved to Germany, and so I was really surprised when on the first day of my teaching year at my current school, my "buddy" (another teacher who volunteered to help me adjust to life at the school) presented me with a tiny Schultüte of my own. I think at that moment I felt a little bit of the joy that German first graders must feel when they get their own Schultüte. It was an acknowledgement that something new was beginning for me, and even though I know thousands of German school children (and some international school teachers) across the country were also getting Schultütes on their first day, I still felt incredibly special.
And so ever since that day two years ago, I've gotten a Schultüte for the person for whom I've volunteered to be a buddy at our school. This year as I was tying up the Schultüte, I decided it would make an excellent opportunity to talk about some of my favorite German candies and chocolate.
1. Haribo Gummy Candy -- You may recognize the name Haribo as the company is one of the largest makers of gummy candy in the world. Their headquarters is in Bonn, and I never actually paid much attention to Haribo candy until we moved to Germany and I found that half the candy aisle was made up of Haribo bags. My favorite Haribo gummies are probably either the sugar-dusted peaches or the sour beans. Though for my buddy's Schultüte, I decided to stick with the traditional and iconic gummy bear.
2. MAOAMs -- MAOAMs are my new favorite German candy, and I only recently discovered them at a carnival that our students put on at school. Although the candy is originally from Dusseldorf, the company is currently owned by Haribo. The candy is described as a "soft fruity chew" and reminds me very much of a softer version of a Starburst (which I love!). As with Starbursts, my favorite flavor is most definitely the orange one.
3. Ritter Sport -- My all-time favorite German candy, or rather chocolate, is definitely Ritter Sport. The company actually began in Stuttgart, but the headquarters was moved to Waldenbuch just south of city as they expanded in the '30s. I made a visit to the Ritter Sport Museum there two summers ago when my mom was in Germany for a visit. Nestled among beautiful green forests, Waldenbuch is where Ritter Sport makes their iconic square 4 x 4 (16-square) chocolate bar. My favorite flavor (though it may seem boring) is the Alpenmilch, a kind of plain milk chocolate made with Alpine milk. The Voll-Nuss with whole hazelnuts and the new coconut-filled milk flavors are pretty high on my list, as well.
Bonus: I thought I'd also mention that I did stick a few school supplies in my buddy's Schultüte, including some really cool dinosaur-shaped sticky notes and masking tape with elephants on it (both purchased from Richie's at the Rathaus u-bahn station, which I mentioned in a previous post). The best school supply, by far, is definitely the Pilot FriXion erasable pen. I've only ever seen these pens in Germany, though you can apparently order them from Amazon. These pens are amazing! Forget the failed "erasable" pens that came out in the early 2000s, because these pens are the real deal. Best of all, the plastic (or rubber?) erasers on the end last for two or three refills of the ink cartridge, so you can reuse them again and again. I stuck two FriXion pens in my buddy's Schultüte in the hopes that she, too, will love them.
Yes, I realize my list of favorite German candies is currently pretty small, but the Schultüte I had to fill was also small and I so wanted to be selective. I'll try to add more posts about candy as I continue to try other new and traditional candies in Germany. In the meantime, what's your favorite German candy?