May 9, 2016

Germans take over our coffee and doughnuts.

JAB Holding Company — after buying up Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Caribou Coffee, and Keurig Green Mountain (not to mention Einstein Brothers Bagels) — takes over Krispy Kreme.

ADDED: Speaking of Germans and doughnuts:
There is a misconception that [President John F.] Kennedy made a risible error by saying Ich bin ein Berliner. By using the indefinite article "ein," he supposedly changed the meaning of the sentence from "I am a citizen of Berlin" to "I am a jelly doughnut."

The indefinite article is omitted in German when speaking of an individual's profession or residence but is still used when speaking in a figurative sense. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but declaring his solidarity with its citizens, "Ich bin ein Berliner" was the only way to express what he wanted to say.

It is also true that though the word "Berliner" is used for a jelly doughnut in the north, west and southwest of Germany, but the word is not used in Berlin itself or the surrounding region, where the usual word is "Pfannkuchen."

A further part of the misconception is that the audience to his speech laughed at his supposed error. They instead cheered and applauded both times the phrase was used. They laughed and cheered a few seconds after the first use of the phrase, only when the president made an intentional joke. Poking fun at his own pronunciation of the phrase, he said, "I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!"

A reference to this misconception appears in Len Deighton's spy novel Berlin Game, published in 1983, which contains the following passage, spoken by Bernard Samson:
'Ich bin ein Berliner,' I said. It was a joke. A Berliner is a doughnut. The day after President Kennedy made his famous proclamation, Berlin cartoonists had a field day with talking doughnuts.
In Deighton's novel, Samson is an unreliable narrator, and his words cannot necessarily be taken at face value. However The New York Times review of Deighton's novel appeared to treat Samson's remark as factual and added the detail that Kennedy's audience found his remark funny:
Here is where President Kennedy announced, Ich bin ein Berliner, and thereby amused the city's populace because in the local parlance a Berliner is a doughnut.
Four years later, it found its way into a New York Times op-ed:
It's worth recalling, again, President John F. Kennedy's use of a German phrase while standing before the Berlin Wall. It would be great, his wordsmiths thought, for him to declare himself a symbolic citizen of Berlin. Hence, Ich bin ein Berliner. What they did not know, but could easily have found out, was that such citizens never refer to themselves as 'Berliners.' They reserve that term for a favorite confection often munched at breakfast. So, while they understood and appreciated the sentiments behind the President's impassioned declaration, the residents tittered among themselves when he exclaimed, literally, "I am a jelly-filled doughnut."
— William J. Miller, "I Am a Jelly-Filled Doughnut", The New York Times, April 30, 1988.
The doughnut misconception has since been repeated by media such as the BBC (by Alistair Cooke in his Letter from America program), The Guardian, MSNBC, CNN, Time magazine, and The New York Times; mentioned in several books about Germany written by English-speaking authors, including Norman Davies and Kenneth C. Davis; and used in the manual for the Speech Synthesis Markup Language. It is also mentioned in Robert Dallek's biography of Kennedy, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963.

Another reference to this misconception appears in David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest, published in 1996, which contains the following passage:
"Few foreigners realize that the German term Berliner is also the vulgate idiom for a common jelly doughnut, and thus that Kennedy's seminal 'Ich bein ein Berliner' was greeted by the Teutonic crowds with a delight only apparently political."
In 1998 comedian Eddie Izzard made a joke using the same misconception in his Dress to Kill show.

32 comments:

Michael K said...

If I were a German billionaire investor, I would be looking outside Europe for things to buy, too.

Maybe they are betting on Trump.

The Drill SGT said...

I'm ok with that. If you've had a Faschingskapfen or a Berliner, both German filled doughnuts, you'll know that the Krauts can be trusted not to screw this up :)

The Drill SGT said...

dropped an R in

FaschingskRapfen a apricot jam filled doughnut with powdered sugar coating

Berliners come in other flavors. and you can get them mit Schlag (e.g whipped cream on top)

Raspberry filling
fried pastry
whipped cream

what's not to like :)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I've had Faschingkrapfen when I was in Germany for business a few years ago. Was not impressed. On the other hand, I frequented a small chain bakery/coffee place for breakfast, and they had plenty of other wonderful stuff, so I don't see a problem with them running Krispy Kreme

traditionalguy said...

Here's hoping that Caribou Coffee starts selling German Chocolate Cake

Wilbur said...

Wilbur love him some doughnuts, just simple glazed or iced. That's why I limit myself to two or three times a year.

JFK love him some jelly roll. As often as he could get it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Eddie Izzard: JFK Berliner

Kate said...

When I was in Germany all the coffee houses were run by Italians who wouldn't trust a German anywhere near a brewing machine. Hopefully their competency has improved over the last 15 years.

The Bergall said...

Another example of jobs moving overseas.........

gadfly said...

Krispy Kreme was never much of a money maker, even when backed by Beatrice Foods in the '70s. In 2000, the company went public and stock prices mushroomed until troubles with a sugar free doughnut set them back in 2004. In 2009 during the market downturn, stock dropped to $1.15 but with some help from Kuwaiti shieks, the company held on through 2015 - now things are sour again.

The Drill SGT said...

Kate said...

Coffee came to Western Europe via the Muslim siege of Vienna in 1683. When King John III Sobieski of Poland saved the Hapsburg bacon and the city as well with the world's largest cavalry charge... The routing Muslims left bags of coffee beans, thus putting Vienna Coffee Houses into business where you can get very good coffee mit schlag and a strudel mit schlag as well. Maybe even a Berliner.

Big Mike said...

Ich bin ein Berliner.

Notwithstanding anything anyone says at any time about "Berliner" being slang for a particular type of jelly donut, I doubt any German who heard those words misunderstood what John Kennedy was saying and why he was saying it.

holdfast said...

I feel like this should be a Simpsons episode . . .

richlb said...

Krispy Kreme overexpanded in the early 2000's and paid dearly for it. At one time there were about 8 KK's within easy driving distance to my house. Today all are gone. You can still get KK's at one of the local convenience chains, but I think they are all made to their recipe in non-official production facilities.

Dunkin' learned the most from KK. Prior to their ascendence DD would stack their donuts upright in a shoebox style presentation. This was optimal for space reasons, but it meant the donuts got squashed a bit, and the bottom of each donut picked up a little of the topping on the donut behind it. In the late 90's they went with the flat-pizza-box packaging that KK was using. This allowed the donuts to be easily removed, stopped them from transferring their flavors from one to another (mostly), and made for a much prettier presentation.

I continue to believe that I could eat a dozen KK's in less than 10 minutes. I haven't carried out that threat, mostly because they are so hard to find now, but some day I will cross this off my bucket list.

Mark W said...

15 years ago, I stopped by a bakery in the Heidelberg train station. My conversational German not being perfect, I pointed to the jelly donuts in the display case. The person behind the counter said "Ein Berliner?" I replied "Zwei, bitte!" They were delicious. I was reminded immediately of JFK.

Curious George said...

Jelly doughnut...Berlin resident...I think it's fun to remember when mainstream Democrats saw communism as a bad thing.

tim maguire said...

Whether he said he was a jelly doughnut or not, the idea that the people of Berlin, not so many years after the devastation of their city by the Russians, would laugh at the leader of the only country keeping them from having to learn Russian, the only country capable of preserving for them their basic freedoms and quality of life because that leader pledged his solidarity to them in a slightly off manner is itself laughable.

Do these people know nothing of what was going on in Berlin at that time? Do they know nothing of why Kennedy was there? Only a fool or a New York Times columnist (but I repeat myself) could believe such a thing.

FWBuff said...

As Hamlet might have said:

"To be or not to be ... a Danish."

Balfegor said...

I had always thought Keurig was German. I don't think I've ever had occasion to say "Keurig" out loud, but mentally I had always pronounced it "kɔɪ̯ʁɪç", as though it were German.

Roughcoat said...

I remember the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. I watched it on television ("film at 10:00"). It was incredibly stirring. West Berlin was under virtual siege by the Soviets and the Germans of West Berlin were deeply appreciative that the president, backed by the military might of the United States, came to Berlin to show his solidarity with West Berliners. Berlin was then Ground Zero of the Cold War and the Russians were a real threat to its security. I remember when U.S. combat infantry were deployed to West Berlin. A couple of our lads were standing in full combat gear next to the coil of barbed wire that separated West Berlin from Communist East Berlin (this was just before the wall was built. An East German or Soviet armored car armed with a powerful water cannon (used to disperse protesting crowds) came up next to them on the East German side of the wire and unleashed a jet of water at the feet of the GIs. The GIs both responded by menacingly grabbing the hand grenades hooked onto their tunic pockets. They didn't back off--they grabbed their hand grenades! But The armored car hastily withdrew. That was so cool! It was magnificent! When JFK declared that he was proud to say "Ich bin ein Berliner, the crowd went wild. They cheered and cheered and cheered. Also magnificeent. Close-up shots of people in the crowd revealed that many were weeping tears of joy. It was a very emotional moment. It sent chills up my spine. JFK--and America--at its very best.

Molly said...

I am Danish. I am not a danish. Let the German speakers work out the rest.

Wilbur said...

@ richlb:

It's a known fact - the science is settled - that it's easier to eat a dozen Krispy Kremes in three minutes than in 10 minutes. You have to wolf them down before that sugar and grease does a number on you and your appetite.

There's a couple of outlets here that still make their own. When the red sign goes on - "HOT DOUGHNUTS" - it's still hard not to turn in and order a box.

The Godfather said...

"Ich bin ein Berliner" was good. "Tear down this wall" was better.

The Drill SGT said...

well said

The Drill SGT said...

I then there was harry Truman's decision to spend American lives and treasure feeding the city for nearly a year 48-49

Larvell said...

Bernard Samson may have been mistaken about some things, like his wife, but he was not in any sense a dishonest narrator.

David said...

"Bernard Samson may have been mistaken about some things, like his wife, but he was not in any sense a dishonest narrator."

The unreliable narrator does not have to be dishonest. In fact that's the easier way to do it.

JAORE said...

Today Krispy Kreem. Tomorrow the world!

Zach said...

We should be so lucky. German bakeries are amazing.

Larvell said...

"The unreliable narrator does not have to be dishonest."

True, but that would be the only explanation for his doughnut story, since it's hard to imagine he would simply be mistaken about that. His unreliability generally comes in the form of thinking people are complete idiots when they're not.

Rusty said...

Vee haf ways ov making you FAT!

mikee said...

I remember when KK was jsut a donut store that was amazingly open all night long in my southern home town, back in the 1960s. Then it became a stock pumped by amazing expansion of the company. Then it became a stock that fell like a rock because of overexpansion of both company and US waistlines. So now it is an international corporation owned by a German firm.

Wonder what the tax implications of German ownership were for the company, and if the upcoming election of Hillary, who would TAX TAX TAX such a sale, had anything to do with it. Who else in corporate America will flee the borders of the US before the Hillary arrives?