10 Things You Didn’t Know were German

10:    CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
If you’ve been to the South you’ve probably seen chicken fried steak on the menu. Did you know that it originated in the Lone Star State and has German roots? German immigrants brought the dish wiener schnitzel to the area, and it morphed into what we now call chicken fried steak.

9:    THE THREE RING BINDER
Just about everyone in America has used a three ring binder, especially during their high school and college days. This invention comes to us from Friedrich Soennecken. It was invented in Bonn, Germany in 1886, the same year he patented the three hole punch!

8:    THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
The gingerbread house first appeared in the Grimm’s Fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. The book was produced as a German opera by the same title. The opera was usually produced during the holidays and it became a tradition for the German opera houses to display a gingerbread house in the lobby. The tradition spread from there to bakeries and eventually into homes.

7:    ADVENT CALENDARS
The first printed Advent calendars appeared in the early 20th century. Gerhard Lang produced the first calendars in Germany and several years later he decided to add little doors that would open to reveal the date or a scripture. Candies and treats were not added to the calendars until after World War II.

6:    CHRISTMAS TREES
Although there is documentation that Christmas trees were first used in present day Estonia and Latvia, it was the Germans who really started the whole decorating tradition. Originally trees were dressed with wax candles, fruits and trinkets. The idea eventually began to spread when royal families from neighboring countries started joining in the tradition.

5.    THE EASTER BUNNY
The Easter Bunny first appeared in 16th century writings in Germany. In the 1700s, Pennsylvania Dutch settlers brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny with them to the new world. Their children believed that if they were good, the Easter bunny would come and lay eggs and treats into nests the children made out of upturned hats and bonnets.

4:     THE BRIDAL CHORUS
It’s the song most brides walk down the aisle to and it is credited to Richard Wagner’s 1850 opera Lohengrin. Another popular wedding song is the Wedding March composed by Felix Mendelssohn, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s often used as the recessional at weddings.

3    THE MOBILE HOME
The pre-fabricated home was invented by Warner Sell of Berlin. After WWII, there was a need for places to house the U.S. forces occupying the area. Sell’s company manufactured over 5000 prefabricated houses.

2:    THE DISNEY CASTLE
Walt Disney made a career “borrowing” from German culture. The success of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White would not have happened without Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Cinderella’s castle, as iconic as Mickey Mouse, is a close replica of the Neuschwantstein Castle in Bavaria.

1:    THE ALL-AMERICAN HOT DOG
This universally popular food is based on the Frankfurter, a pork sausage that originated in 13th century Germany. Don’t forget the condiments! Whenever you use Heinz ketchup or Hellman’s mayonnaise, you are enjoying the products of companies founded by German immigrants.

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