Local raw materials and creative ideas are "Typical Harz"

With "Typical Harz” (in German, Typisch Harz), a brand which was first launched in the mid-1990s has developed which adds a seal to specialist products that cut across regional boundaries and industries, and which stands for quality from the local region. The Harz Tourism Association awards the accolades. The focus of its assessments is on the livestock- and environmentally-friendly production of agricultural products, on regional raw materials, and on processing and completion in the Harz region. The label is also given to regional dishes in restaurants and tourism offers that are considered typical of the Harz region. Over 350 products from 55 suppliers are now "Typical Harz". The networking between the Harz Tourism Association with producers and creative professionals in the "Cross Innovation" support programme, which is unique in Germany, has enabled the cooperation to be intensified. The many positive spin-off effects have also awakened the interest of other regions.

The inventor of Malzit, Steffi Tomljanovic, was immediately enthused by the project. "I was one of the first people to apply," she tells us. Behind the Malzit brand are spreads based on barley or wheat malt which Steffi Tomljanovic buys from the independent brewery E. A. Böhlke. Steffi combines the traditional, hand-made beer wort with ginger, peppermint or chilli, with coffee and vanilla or with elderflower.

For her fruit spreads based on malt, she mainly uses fruit from her own orchard: "I had lots of apricots this year and I bought quinces and rose hips for the first time. I had a look at the facility in Zossen beforehand, as I always want to have a good feeling about the things that find their way into my jars."

For Steffi Tomljanovic, the cooperation with Antje Schmidt "die initialzünder", Ulrike Wölke "DESIGNBÜRO media partis" and Tessa Bösche "TS Communications” resulted in the development of a new press kit. She finds it at least equally important "for the exchange and the retail of the products to have gained its own sense of momentum". Ferdinand Benesch, who is Marketing Director at the company Glasmanufaktur Harzkristall GmbH, for example, invited the participating companies to sell their "Typical Harz" products at his business. Harzkristall now has a shelf containing "Typical Harz” products, including Malzit. "I’m also supplying my products to the Tourist Information Centre in Ballenstedt, the Aviation Museum in Wernigerode, the FRIWI in Stolberg and the monastery in Wöltingerode, and frequently receive invitations to markets that I never knew existed before,” explains Steffi Tomljanovic with a smile.

At the first innovation workshop, which Antje Schmidt initiated as the leader of the project at its launch, it became clear that plenty more creative potential can be mustered up when new ideas are developed through the different perspectives of creative professionals and manufacturers who are prepared to think outside of the box.

For the Stolberg-based FRIWI-Werk Witte OHG, the desire to create a project for children led to the idea of the "Harzer Tierkinder” (Harz baby animals) biscuits. The recipe for the shortbread biscuits has now been finalised, it has been sampled by the staff team, and with its rounded flavour and mild sweetness, it was found to be excellent. The label was developed together with the creative professionals in the project. "Our cookie cutters will be creating a total of 13 baby animal designs, and the “Harzer Tierkinder” will be on the market before Easter 2020" explains the owner of the company, Nadja Witte.

All in all, some 60 varieties of biscuit and gingerbread cookie are made in the traditional family business FRIWI, which is also home to a praline workshop and the FRIWI café, which according to "Der Feinschmecker" magazine is one of the best in Germany. The foundation stone for the company was laid down in 1891 by Friedrich Wilhelm Witte, the great grandfather of the current Managing Director, who made Stolberg rusk biscuits. Grandfather Georg went on to develop new products. Nadja Witte still uses his recipes today, which have been adapted slightly to contemporary tastes.

Gingerbread cookies, for example, are still made using the same method as they were in her grandfather's time: "From January to March, the sponge doughs are boiled down, for which the sugar-honey mass requires a certain temperature. The doughs are then stored for three to four months. The build-up of lactic acid, which acts as a leavening agent during the baking, makes the gingerbread cookies nice and fluffy," explains Nadja Witte.

Ginger almond cookies, vanilla twists, butter-rum pastries, butter-almond biscuits, “Sultanzwieback” rusks and several other delicacies all carry the "Typical Harz” label. The flour used in all of the snacks is sourced from the Schröder grain mill, a small family business in neighbouring Thale. The honey is supplied by a regional bee keeper, while FRIWI orders local fruit from the Aseleben fruit orchard.

"In this project, we cooperate with micro-entrepreneurs and medium-sized companies, start-ups and traditional businesses,” explains Antje Schmidt. "We get to hear interesting stories at every company. The entrepreneurs are all unique." There’s the hillside bee keeper André Koppelin in Hüttenrode, for example: the network project has allowed him to use a new logo for his website and products, which allows him to visually highlight his stand-out nature. Then there’s the mustard-maker Simone Seiboth, whose guided tours of the Quedlinburg mustard factory have been summarised in written form. And there are the glass makers from the company Glasmanufaktur Harzkristall GmbH in Derenburg, whose blown glass from the "Harzkristall" brand also features the "Typical Harz” label.

In the "Cross Innovation" project, which receives support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, the services provided by the creative professionals, with their ideas, texts, graphics and design work, were free of charge for the participating companies. Following the end of the project, the jointly developed results are available to use against payment. And since the positive impact for the regional brand and the participating companies has radiated beyond the Harz region, the project has now been extended until April 2020. The know-how is also being exported to the Saale-Unstrut winegrowing region, where it is boosting the new "Saale-Unstrut handmade" regional brand.

Author: Bettina Koch