Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Oetker is the best-known German food brand, according to public opinion surveys. The company started with baking powder before turning to the manufacture of custard powder, the product with which it is most closely associated. However, Dr. August Oetker KG has grown into a conglomerate that transcends foodstuff production to rank among Germany’s largest internationally operating family-owned and family-run companies.

It all began in Bielefeld in 1891, when pharmacist August Oetker (1862–1918), a baker’s son, hit upon the idea of selling “Backin” baking powder in small, standardized envelopes, each for 500 grams of flour. Oetker branded the baking powder with a distinctive logo—a silhouette of a woman’s head—and his own name, the title of “doctor” signaling quality. From the start Oetker ran an intense and hugely successful advertising campaign. Backin was patented in 1903, and 50 million envelopes were sold in 1906. From 1908 on, the company’s very modern marketing campaign was managed by a special department at the Oetker factory. In 1911 Oetker published Schulkochbuch, a cookbook for school kitchens, and a baking cookbook appeared in 1930. The company also introduced cooking demonstrations and public tastings, and later pioneered advertising on TV.