– that is here the question or If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
This is the story about Johann Georg Lahner, born 15 October 1774 in Gasselsdorf (Franconian Switzerland), died 23 April 1845 in Vienna. It is about an active young farmer boy who left his family living in poverty and hopelessness to find his luck in the big wide world.
After an apprenticeship as a butcher in Frankfurt on the Main, he soon wandered off and ended up as a boat hand on the Danube and then in Vienna.
In 1804, as the tales tell, this handsome and also trustworthy young lad received a loan of 300 guilders from a wealthy lady of the Viennese high society as a boost for his own business.
With this support the ambitions young butcher founded his own butcher’s shop in the sub-urbian “Altlerchenfeld”. According to a newspaper article from 15 May 1805, there were “strange creations” in his display case in his shop Am Schottenfeld nr. 274 (today’s Neustiftgasse 112). Lahner named this new specialty “Frankfurter” as an homage to his time of apprenticeship as they existed in Frankfurt already but they were only made with pork meat.
Lucky for him that he was producing in Vienna – here there was no strict separation between pork and beef as there was in Frankfurt. Lahner’s frankfurters were also ground more and therefore had a much finer taste than the ones in Frankfurt. Lahner liked to experiment and so he came up with the ideal mixture of both kinds of meat for his mild smoked product.
Talk of the Town
Lahner’s sausages were soon the talk of the town and became popular and high in demand in all sections of the population soon even “am Wiener Hof”. Adalbert Stifter was also a great lover of frankfurters who even had this speciality delivered by carriage to Linz. Due to the long distance, though (180 km away) and product expiration this was only possible in winter.
The business expanded and in 1832 the company moved to a venue in Am Schottenfeld 54.
Lahner had four sons with his Austrian wife Anna Resler and in 1842 the born Franconian was awarded the Viennese honorary citizenship. In 1845, Shortly after he passed the business onto his son, Franz, Johann Georg Lahner passed away. His grave at the Central Viennese Cemetary was levelled in 1975
At the corner of Kaiserstraße/Neustiftgasse there is an memorial plaque commemorating this Viennese genius butcher with German roots. He left his home and brought great taste to the world.
Unfortunately the original recipe of the traditional Lahner frankfurter sausages has not been handed down, there is merely some documentation from the 125th company anniversary about the production process.
Despite the hype, the family-run business was doomed to shut down which happened in 1967 as there was no successor for this Viennese company. Another reason was probably also the great competition and the mass production of the frankfurters in other new butcheries.
To sum up: Either as a pair or shared with others with a fresh crunchy bread roll or as a sausage roll – the ever popular way to serve this delicacy – with mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise, the good old frankfurters (or Wieners as they are known outside of Austria) are and always will be a hit!
The journey of the frankfurter from Vienna to the whole world:
1842: production starts in Milan
1855: presentation and sales at the World Expo in Paris
1861: production starts in Amsterdam
1865: production in Linz – making Stifter’s personal delivery redundant
1893: World Expo in Chicago
1905: first production of “Würstel im Schlafrock” (sausage in pajamas) – a buttery dough with a crunchy filling created by Leopold Lahner, a great-grandson of the founder, Johann Georg Lahner.