One of the first historical references to a sausage appears in Homer's Odyssey, written in 700 BC. Odysseus fights in a dual and wins a sausage filled with fat and blood, which is then cooked over the fire.
Even the Vikings saw the many advantages of sausages. In The Long Ships, Toke bursts into tears when he smells the scent of a blood sausage, flavoured with thyme.
Throughout ancient history, sausages have been enjoyed in great quantities. Many recipes can be found in the Apicius cookery book from Roman times. Roman outdoor barbecues have been preserved up until this day.
However, the sausage has probably been around since prehistoric times. Cleaning out the animal's intestines after slaughter to store meat in them was a practical and logical solution. Especially once we later discovered that food could be preserved through drying, smoking or salting.
In modern times, Germany, Italy and France refined the sausage culture. But of course Germany is the greatest sausage country of them all – with many German place names beginning with the word “Wurst”.
True to German tradition, the production of sausages was regulated early on. For example, a decree from 1432 forbade anything but pig meat in a genuine Bratwurst. One interesting fact is that whilst the Vienna sausage – or “Wiener” – is known by this name around the world, in Vienna it is known as a “Frankfurter”.
In the 1600s, the Germans developed the hot dog, roughly about the same time the Swedes created their “Falukorv”, with a little bit of help from German migrant workers.
The hot dog arrived in the USA with German immigrants and the first hot dog stand opened in New York in 1871. The name “hot dog” comes from the turn of the century and stems from the German nickname for wieners – dachshund. Dachshunds are also known as sausage dogs, as their appearance is famously reminiscent of a large sausage.
The Swedish word for sausage, “korv” is believed to come from the Icelandic word “kurfur”, meaning “a stump that is bent” – similar to the word “curve”. The first written occurrence of the word “korv” comes from 1539.
In Sweden, sausages were considered for a long time to be simple food, and long into the 1800s they were eaten mainly by the working classes. Cold cuts were the first type of sausage to become popular also amongst other the classes. The first serious sausage breakthrough didn't take place until the arrival of the Swedish “smörgåsbord” in the 1880s.
The most internationally famous Swedish sausage originated in the copper mines of Falun, probably as early as in the 1500s. Rope made of oxen skins were used in the mines. German migrant workers taught the locals
how to smoke sausages to cure the meat. In the 1870s, this tradition was taken up and when the sausages were sold to Stockholm, they were given the name “Falukorv”. Nowadays, its name is protected as one of three Swedish products with EU special protected status: Guaranteed traditional speciality.
The Germans developed the traditional hot dog as early as in the 1600s.
Sweden saw its hot dog premier during the world exposition in Stockholm, 1897. It was there that the country's first hot dog salesmen – who were actually women – sold sausages from casseroles over glowing embers. Once the exposition was over, the sausage vendors vanished.
Following the migration to the cities that took place in the 1900s, the sausage gained a stronger position. Quite simply, it became fashionable and was eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Right before the Second World War, sausages were the third most common breakfast food after porridge and herring.
Writing the Swedish history of sausages would be impossible without mentioning the Atria brand, Sibylla. Sibylla holds a special place as the Swedish “national sausage”. The brand's history runs in parallel with the concept of “Folkhemmet” (the Swedish welfare state) – both began at the start of the 1930s.
In the 1950s, 45 per cent of all meat consumed was sausage. Sweden had become a sausage country. Doesn't the country's long shape remind you of a sausage too?
Sibylla's proud history began when Oskar Lithell had an idea. The year was 1932 and he had recently taken over his father's little sausage factory in Kumla. The factory had opened in 1907 and Daniel remembered how the meat mincer used to be powered by horses in the beginning, before the advent of electricity. His father was a master at making good sausages. Unfortunately he was not as capable when it came to business matters.
Daniel's idea was to make a popular sausage that would be sold by local hot-dog vendors. Then as now, the sausages should taste good and be of the highest quality. A strong wholesale operation would distribute the products throughout the country. One day it struck Daniel that this sausage ought to have a specific name. This would bring enthusiastic queues, he thought. And since the crown prince's wedding was approaching later that same year, the sausage was named Sibylla, after the mother of Sweden's present king.
And he was in a hurry too; it is said that Daniel organised the whole thing in just four days. A professional hot-dog vendor was engaged, but the launch was a disappointment. The vendor was also in a rush and disappeared with sausages, mustard and money. As a result, Daniel realised the importance of vendors you can trust. However, reports of the tasty Sibylla sausage now spread across the region by word of mouth. And soon major orders began to come from other parts of Sweden too.
Daniel had the idea that he could print the name Sibylla on the tins that were distributed.
And thus began the development of one of Sweden's strongest enduring brands. The rest is history – a direct route from the neon signs of the hot-dog kiosks in the 1930's to today's fast food stands and convenience stores. Along the way, Sibylla has never strayed from Daniel Lithell's vision of tasty, top-quality products, of retailers living up to the demanding requirements and providing rapid service to people on the go.
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