Marzipan's triumphal march began in Lübeck. Johann Georg Niederegger (1777–1856) founded the Niederegger factory which still makes the irresistible delicacy with such perfect quality. He even supplied marzipan to kings and czars. But the origin of the delectable delicacy lies elsewhere.
Marzipan was invented in the Orient where almonds and sugar have their home. When the crusaders returned from the Orient, they brought with them the secret of making marzipan. Mighty Hanseatic cogs carried the now legendary recipe to the North of Germany. Initially, however, only apothecaries were allowed to trade with sugar and spices. Not until confectionery became a trade in its own right were they allowed to produce marzipan. At first, it was only kings and the rich who were able to indulge in marzipan. It took until the beginning of the 19th century before ordinary citizens were able to enjoy the fine marzipan as sugar became more affordable once it could be extracted from sugar beet.
The Niederegger Story
Germany's most famous marzipan factory is in the north in Lübeck, and marzipan is undoubtedly the city's biggest export. Johann Georg Niederegger, an outstanding confectioner, established the business in 1806, and the original, time-honoured recipe has stayed exactly the same since then – a mixture of almonds, sugar and an ingredient similar to rosewater that gives the unique Niederegger taste.
With its high almond content, it’s less sweet than many marzipans, keeping the true taste and colour of the finest, aromatic Mediterranean almonds that are used, and only the best, most perfect, golden kernels pass the expert gaze of the eagle-eyed ‘checkers’ once the almonds have been blanched. Niederegger make 30 tons of this incredible marzipan every day, crushing the chopped nuts with sugar between giant granite rollers, heating the paste in copper cauldrons until it’s ready to be cooled, wrapped and rested to develop the fullest potential of the almond aroma. And finally, the secret rosewater-like ingredient is added and the marzipan can be turned into one of over 300 marzipan specialities, from fine pralines to novelty shapes as well as the classic chocolate-coated loaves.