Wiener vs. Frankfurter

This is a meal served in almost every Austrian alpine hut, more of a snack, it’s great for a quick stop and a bit of fuel to carry on the day with. An Austrian guest will order a pair of ‘Frankfurter’s” whereas a German guest will order “Wiener Würstchen” or ‘Viennese sausages’. Do both guests get the same meal? Let’s find out.

The research done on this topic is interesting and informative but the reader should really decide for themselves as to what the truth really is.

Once upon a time, there was a butcher from Frankfurt who seems to have enjoyed great success with his sausages and managed to sell an awful lot of them. Back then, these sausages were a kind of thin boiled sausage made of pork-filled sheep intestine and were apparently created by him. The sausage was called ‘Saitling’ and it got its taste from a special smoking process. This type of sausage has been around since the middle-ages and the question is: how did they stick around for over 500 years?

As a matter of fact, the name of the ‘Frankfurter sausage’ has been protected as a geographical name of origin since 1860. It remains to be seen whether it is always an advantage to be allowed to call the Frankfurter sausage one’s own!

During those times, it was forbidden to mix pork and beef together and there were two types of butchers – one for pork and one for beef. In Austria, things were a little different and the two could be mixed and so the master butcher Lahner decided to move to Vienna, where he opened his shop and created a new kind of sausage. This is how the so-called “Wiener Würstchen” or ‘Viennese sausage’ came to be, although there is no evidence that Austria tried to patent the name in court. These are the sausages we get when we order a pair of frankfurters in Austria - filled with a mixture of pork and beef.

Another folklore says that Frankfurters came to Vienna from southern Germany as early as 1840, and a recipe for Viennese sausages can also be found in a cookbook that existed as early as 1840.

All in all: In Austria, a Viennese sausage is a sliced sausage with mustard. Frankfurters are the thin sausages filled with a mixture of pork and beef. If you order Viennese sausages, you will either be served a pair of frankfurters or you might even be told a joke such as: "There are currently no guests from our federal capital present!"

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