Not far from Checkpoint Charlie, the iconic Cold War-era crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin, there’s a museum dedicated to a street food called “currywurst” - a peculiar, and singularly German, sausage dish.
It was in 1949, as Berlin was being rebuilt in the aftermath of World War II, that Herta Heuwer got hold of some ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers stationed in Germany. Provisions were short, so thinking outside the sausage-box, she used these not-exactly-German ingredients on a traditional German sausage, turning regular “bratwurst” into “currywurst.” Herta started selling her international concoction on the street in the district of Charlottenburg, near Checkpoint Charlie. The cheap but filling sausage soon became popular with the construction workers, and business at her stand grew - serving up to 10,000 currywursts a week.
The Currywurst Museum is dedicated to this novelty borne of scarcity. It is still widely popular in Germany, particularly in Berlin and other urban areas. The museum itself is interactive, and offers a lot of different ways to learn about and experience the wurst. There’s a currywurst stand, a currywurst computer game, a French fry challenge, and singing ketchup bottles telling the story of currywurst’s unique position in German popular culture. Grab a currywurst of your own and a snag a spot on the sausage sofa, and relish (sorry…) in the communal nature of street cuisine, this one offering a different take on Cold War Berlin, just around the corner from where East met West.
Update: The museum will be closing permanently at this location after 10 years on December 21, 2018.
Know Before You Go
The Museum is only a hundred yards from Checkpoint Charlie, and is open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm. They have a variety of entrance options and fees (some including tastings, some not), so check the website for full details.