I was born and raised in Denmark. If you are not aware of this little country, it is located in Europe, just above Germany ( And no we are not Holland with Amsterdam and Red Light district – different country! I know you were wondering).
Denmark covers 16,639 sq miles (43,094 km²) ,about twice the size of Massachusetts, and has a population of 5.59 million people 2012). We have the oldest monarchy in Europe, founded back in the 10th century by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth, and we have the oldest, continuously used national flag known as “Dannebrog”. Among famous Danes, I can mention Hans Christian Andersen, physicist Niels Bohr (Nobel Prize 1922), philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard (the godfather of existentialism) and just to top if all off, Lego was founded in Denmark in 1932,w2
Now you might wonder why on earth I feel the need to tell you all this. Will this knowledge benefit you at all? Probably not ,except you now can impress some friends next time you have a dinner party. However, I am telling you this, so you understand that in Denmark we have a long history of traditions and we are very proud of our roots. Which now leads us to the more serious topic of Danish pastry or as we call it “Wiener brød” (meaning bread from Vienna). “Wiener brød” was invented back in 1870 due to a baker strike. This strike forced the bakery owners to hire workers from abroad and among these several Austrian bakers, who brought along their own baking traditions and pastry recipes, hitherto unfamiliar in Denmark. The Austrian pastry soon became popular in Denmark and after the labor disputes ended, Danish bakers adopted the Austrian recipes of laminated yeast-leavened dough, creating a layered texture similar to puff pastry. Over time the Danish bakers adjusted the recipes to their own liking and traditions, by increasing the amount of egg and fat. This development resulted in what is now known today as the Danish pastry.
Again you might wonder: ‘What is her point with all these history lessons?” No worries, I am getting to it!
You see, I love Danish pastry. And being from Denmark, I have had my share of it. With my Sunday breakfast or brunch, with my afternoon coffee, on my way home from the nightclub when the local bakery opened up at 5 am. I have had the pleasure of sinking my teeth in a perfectly “puffed” danish pastry on several occasions and enjoyed every single layer of crunchiness on the outside and the sweetness of the remonce or vanilla crème or cinnamon butter on the inside. I have had the pleasure of running around town with several flakes of pastry crumbs stuck to my shirt without my knowledge. Which just makes the discovery of those extra blissful pieces even sweeter as I now have a chance to relive my earlier consumption of this divine artistry! As you can hear , danish pastry has a special place in my heart ( and on my thighs). So imagine my disappointment when moving to America and realize that what is called a “Danish” over here, is nothing short of a large amount of empty calories shaped into a sticky blend dough with some sort of jelly inside of it and with frosting on it, all while wrapped into a small crispy plastic bag with a shelf live around 8 years! Calling this piece of synthetically manufactured, non-natural, flavored cardboard sponge a Danish is nothing less than a direct insult to all Danish pastry. And since they are not able to stand and speak up for them selves, I therefore feel I need to make this astronomic insult be known to the world ! Or at least to the few people that might end up reading this post lured to it by the tag word ”pastry” or “wiener brød”!
I don’t blame it on the American consumer. If you have never been in Denmark, how would you even be aware of this unfortunate injustice happening everyday right here in your town? So, no how can I blame you. However I will blame the real force of power here…the marketing department! The powerful monster that everyday dictates how we should live our lives, which car will make us happy, which sausage will bring us delight and which shampoo will forever give us a golden luscious mane that will attract the guy with the yacht.
I understand WHY the marketing department would like to create an association for the consumer with wonderful Denmark. After all, Denmark is a country with lush green fields, large areas covered in trees, cute old crocked houses, large historic castles, tall blonde,blue-eyed beautiful Danes and of course the danish butter cookies, which all Americans either have received or will receive as a Holiday gift at least one time during their life span. I understand the need to sell a product, so why not link the product to a country ranked the happiest country in the world quite a few times. It is actually quite genius,until a Dane comes to America and have to take a stand. I feel it is my patriotic duty to put my foot down, right now. Yes now and declare, that the description “danish pastry”can no longer be affiliated with any products, which have a shelf live of more than 2 days and it should contain real egg and real butter!
I am no fool and therefore know, it takes more than just me to take this stand if I want to make a difference. However, after reading this post, I am sure you have a full agreeable understanding of my issue and therefore will find it absolutely necessary to stand with me. To make our voices heard across the nation, I suggest a flash mob wearing nothing but Danish pastry attached to our bodies, to get the attention needed from the public.
Write in the comments if you are willing to take a stand with me, and we will make it happen!