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CULTURE

Nine inventions you might be surprised are actually Austrian

OK so we know about Arnie, but there are plenty of Austrian discoveries that you might not know are actually Austrian. Here are a few surprises.

Nine inventions you might be surprised are actually Austrian
Pez. It's Austrian. Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash

From famous to infamous, there are plenty of well known people who come from Austria. 

For centuries, Mozart has been synonymous with Austria and Salzburg, while Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the most famous living Austrian. 

Then of course there’s Adolf, but this list is about things that are surprisingly Austrian, so the less said about him the better. 

The following are some Austrian contributions to the world you might be surprised about. Read on!

Red Bull

OK so most of you know this, but Austria is indeed responsible for the energy drink Red Bull. 

The highest selling energy drink in the world, Red Bull was created and marketed by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz. 

He was inspired by a pre-existing energy drink named Krating Daeng – translating to ‘red bison’ – which was first invented and sold in Thailand. 

He took this idea, modified the ingredients to suit the tastes of westerners, and founded Red Bull GmbH in Austria in 1987. 

As of 2021, he’s amassed a fortune of close to $30 billion and just sneaks into the top 40 richest people in the world. 

Snow globes

Yes, snow globes (Schneekugel) were actually invented in Austria. 

They were invented by Austrian Erwin Perzy, a manufacturer or surgical instruments, by accident in the 1800s. 

Perzy had been hoping to develop an extra bright source of light and had been experimenting with small reflective particles. 

When he moved the globe, the effect reminded him of snowfall and he got the idea. 

Perzy’s family still run a business manufacturing and selling snow globes in Vienna, where they are still made from glass and the material used to make up the snow is still a secret. 

Australian snow globes. By Tangerineduel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Danishes (yes, really)

A breakfast and afternoon tea staple across the globe, it might be a surprise to find out that the Danish doesn’t come from Denmark at all. 

Don’t believe us? Ask the Danish. This is already starting to sound like a bad Pulp Fiction impression, but do you know what they call a Danish in Denmark? 

Vienna bread. No, seriously. 

The way of making Danishes – a variant of puff pastry made of laminated yeast-leavened dough that creates a layered texture – was brought to Copenhagen by Austrian bakers. 

The name became prominent when Danish people made the move to the United States and the pastries became popular – and the rest is tasty, tasty history. 

Postcards

In 1869 economist Emanuel Alexander Herrmann published an article in Austria’s paper Neue Freie Presse “Über eine neue Art des Korrespondenzmittels der Post”, or “About a novel means of postal correspondence”.

The letter proposed that all envelope-size cards, whether written, produced by copying machine, or printed, ought to be admitted as mail if they contained not more than 20 words including address and sender’s signature. 

Britain followed the Austrian example and introduced the postcard a year later.

An Austrian postcard from 1901. Image: Wikicommons

PEZ

Made of artificial colours and flavours. Squashed out of cartoon characters into artificial shapes. Zero nutritional value. What sounds more American than that?

But no, PEZ, the candy, is in fact Austrian. 

An Austrian by the name of Eduard Haas III invented the collectable cult sweet known as PEZ in 1927, as an alternative to smoking. 

PEZ is a shortened version of the German word for peppermint – PfeffErminZ. 

Twenty years later Haas invented the PEZ dispenser, which resembles a cigarette lighter. 

The sweets were originally targeted at adults and it was not until the 1950s when PEZ began to be sold in America, that the cartoon character tops and fruity flavours were added to appeal to children.

Psychoanalysis

OK, so you knew Sigmund Freud was going to make an appearance in this list somewhere. 

The father of making you worry that you were attracted to your mother was famous for a range of things, including novel approach to sex, dreams and penis envy. 

While some of his techniques and ideas haven’t aged as well as he’d like, his contribution to therapy – and in particular psychoanalysis – was and remains revolutionary. 

Psychoanalysis was popularised by Sigmund Freud. 

In creating a clinical method for treating mental illnesses through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Freud developed techniques such as the use of free association. 

The Vienna flat where he lived for 47 years, and produced the majority of his writings, is now a museum documenting his life and work. 

However his famous couch is in the Freud Museum in London, as Freud took his furniture with him when he fled German-annexed Austria to avoid Nazi prosecution.

Slo-mo/slow motion

Speak to a German and they’ll tell you that things tend to be a little slower in Austria – but that’s not what we mean by inventing slo/mo. 

We mean slow motion camera footage. 

Slo-mo is an effect in film-making where time appears to be slowed down. 

It was invented by an Austrian priest, August Musger, in the early 20th century. 

Musger, a passionate cineaste, invented the slow motion technique using a mirrored drum as a synchronising mechanism. 

The device he used was patented in 1904 and was first presented in Graz, Styria in 1907. Where would television sport broadcasts, scientific documentary films, or action movies be without slowmo?

Slow motion is Austrian.

Swarovski crystals

Swarovski’s luxury cut glass (or ‘crystal’) company might have come to worldwide fame, but it is in fact based in Tyrol. 

In 1892 Daniel Swarovski patented an electric cutting machine that enabled the production of crystal glass.

In 1895, Swarovski financier Armand Kosman and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, and established a factory in Wattens to take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes. 

Today Swarovski crystals adorn clothes, shoes, handbags and mobile phones of classy people everywhere. 

Blood types

OK, so Austria didn’t technically invent blood types because they were actually invented by whoever invented blood, but blood types were first discovered in Austria. 

Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian biologist and physician, first distinguished the main blood types in 1900. 

He later identified the Rhesus factor, in 1937, which enabled doctors to transfuse blood without endangering the patient′s life. 

In 1930 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and is recognised as the father of transfusion medicine.

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FOOD & DRINK

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

It is easier to face the summer heat with a proper cold drink in your hands. Austrians know that well and have created (or made popular) several delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Here are five you should try.

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

The debate of which is the perfect summer drink is undoubtedly a very controversial one.

While many people would argue that nothing can beat the Italian Aperol Spritz (which is also very popular in Austria), some would rather stay with a simple cold beer.

If you are team Spritz, then you should know that Austria has a love for things g’spritzt, with their own versions of sparkling drinks (with or without alcohol). However, for those who prefer a beer, the alpine country is home to several famous brands, including the Styrian Gösser, the Viennese Ottakringer, and Stiegl, from Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

In any case, when living or visiting a new country, it’s always fun to try out the traditional dishes and, in this case, beverages.

Here are five drinks you should try during the Austrian summer.

Hugo drink summer drink austria

Hugo is a very popular (and sweet) summer drink in Austria (Photo by Greta Farnedi on Unsplash)

Hugo

Some say this is the Austrian answer to the Aperol Spritz, but its sweetness from the elderflower syrup makes it quite different from the bitter bright orange Aperol.

There is also a bit of controversy as to where this drink, which Austrians love to drink during a nice summer afternoon, originates.

Internationally, it seems to be widely accepted that this alcoholic aperitif comes from South Tyrol, a German-speaking region of Italy with deep Austrian roots. Ask any Austrian, though, and they will tell that just proves the drink is from Austria.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to talk about the heat like a true Austrian

Italian or Austrian, the sweet drink is made with prosecco, elderflower syrup, seltzer and mint leaves. Serve it with lots of ice in a large glass, and you have a perfect summer drink.

white wine drinks party

Mix your white wine with sparkling water and you get a refreshing gespritzt (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

weiß gespritzt

This is extremely popular, relatively cheap even in fancy restaurants, and somewhat controversial, but take some white wine and add a little sparkling water (sometimes ice) and you get a weiß gespritzt, or a g’spritzter.

READ ALSO: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Not everyone appreciates mixing your wine with water, but it makes for a refreshing and lighter drink. In Austrian restaurants, you might be asked whether you want a summer gespritzt, which means it has higher water content and, therefore, is lighter, or a “normal” one.

It is by no means an Austrian drink, and you may have to ask for a Weinschorle instead of a Gespritzter in Germany, but it is a popular drink in the German world.

gösser radler drink

Austrian brands sell some of the most popular Radlers in Europe (Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash)

Radler

A Radler is another drink that though not from Austria, is extremely popular here. Not only that but some of the most popular Radlers are sold by Austrian brands.

Traditionally, all you need to make a Radler is to mix beer and lemonade. However, the drink is also found bottled and sold by beer companies such as Gösser and Ottakringer. The mix has also expanded and you can discover Radlers with a citrus or berry mix.

READ ALSO: Austrian old folks toast success of ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ beer

It is a lighter and sweeter beer, perfect for enjoying the summer with a fresh drink that is not so alcoholic.

Mixing apple juice and sparkling water creates a perfect non-alcoholic summer drink. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Apfelspritz

Following the Austrian love for adding sparkling water to drinks, a very common and non-alcoholic beverage is the Apfelspritz.

It is a mix of apple juice and (you guessed it) sparkling water. It is popular in Biergarten as a non-alcoholic alternative, with kids joining in on toasts with their apple and soda mix.

The drink is also very common in Germany (where it is known as Apfelschorle), Switzerland and Hungary.

READ ALSO: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

almdualer gerhard schilling

Almdudler’s CEO Gerhard Schilling holds a bottle of the traditional Austrian drink (© Philipp Lipiarski)

Almdudler

Another option for a summer light and non-alcoholic drink is the Almdudler, which is technically the name of the Austrian brand that sells the famous carbonated soft drink.

The drink is a blend of 32 “natural alpine herbs, beet sugar and soda water”, according to the website. It has a very distinctive logo and can be found in almost all Austrian households – being one of the most popular beverages in the country.

Did we forget about your favourite summer drink? Then let us know in the comments below or send us an email at [email protected]

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