German Chocalate Cake is Not German

“Welcome, ye shades! ye bowery Thickets hail! / Ye lofty Pines! ye venerable Oaks! / Ye Ashes wild, resounding o’er the steep! / Delicious is your shelter to the soul.” —James Thomson, “The Seasons, Summer”

In A Nutshell

German Chocolate cake is beloved all over the world, a symphony of layered beauty that grabs hold of any chocolate lover. But interestingly enough, German Chocolate cake does not originate from Germany.  Instead it is named after it’s inventor Samuel German, an American baker back in 1852

The Whole Bushel

Samuel German was a baker in the mid 19th century who developed a dark baking chocolate that had previously not been seen before.  He invented a dark chocolate used exclusively for baking in 1852.

The recipe for what became known as the ‘German Chocolate Cake’ was invented in 1957, by a homemaker in Texas named Mrs. George Clay.  It took more than 100 years, but the recipe turned out to be widely popular, and just like all great American inventions, corporate America took notice.  General Foods (merged with Kraft Foods in 1990) then distributed the recipe more broadly and sales of the original dark baking chocolate exploded.

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The name of the cake was simply dubbed ‘German Chocolate Cake’, with most of the public under the impression that it stood for the country of origin. The reason that this is still in lexicon is simply the popularity of the original recipe, which even got it’s own National Day (June 11th).

Samuel German, with whom this takes his namesake is known mostly for this one accomplishment. The creation was bought directly from Samuel German by Walter Baker for $1,000, which adjusted for inflation is around $50,000 today.   The real profiteer though comes along 100 years later, and markets the product amongst a popular recipe.  But, it also turns out that milk sales increased when milk was slated as a perfect match to the richness of the cake.

Show Me The Proof

Celebrating Not-So-German Chocolate Cake
Is German Chocolate Cake Really German?

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