After the Empire

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

The collapse of the Hapsburg Empire in 1918 initially had little impact on the sweet repertoire of the newly independent nations of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Yugoslavia. However, economics and politics soon created fissures in the common culinary heritage. Rapid urbanization, increased availability of processed food, and the gradual erasure of religious dietary observance sidelined the habit of sweet, flour-based meals. The shortages of eggs and butter during the Depression and World War II and then the imposition of communism in Hungary (1947) and Czechoslovakia (1948) lowered the standards of both home and professional bakers. In communist Czechoslovakia all private enterprise was banned (in Hungary the regime was less draconian), including bakeries, pastry shops, cafés, and restaurants. Under the command economy many of the goods sold at these food-service operations were now produced in central factory-like commissaries to state-mandated norms that left little room for quality. Artisanal production ceased for two generations.