Austria, Home to Mozart and His Kugeln 

In honor of one of the world's greatest composers, his homeland's confectioners created Mozartkugeln – spherical chocolates and Austria's top souvenir for over a century now.

Mozartkugeln in Salzburg
A window display featuring boxes of the famous Mozartkugeln in a sweets shop in Salzburg, Austria. Photo: iStock.com / Wjarek

Is there Spice Girls All-Spice? Lady Gaga Lollipop? I don’t think so. Only a handful of musicians can go around the daily shows bragging about food items named after them. And in this regard, Austrian (though some call him German) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may be the most privileged, having Mozartkugeln (or Mozart balls) named after him for over 130 years and only increasing in popularity.

Mozartkugeln (a)round Austria

Peter Gugerell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Selection of Mozartkugeln. Photo: Peter Gugerell / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Knowing Mozart as perhaps the most brilliant composer there ever was, not to mention a child prodigy, let’s not delve into his compositions. However, we do have to sort out his origins and German/Austrian nationality to know why Mozartkugeln is the best souvenir from Austria, bought hastily in the souvenir section of duty-free stores at one of the three major international airports, Vienna, Salzburg, or Innsbruck.

When Mozart was born in Salzburg, it was still independent from Vienna, as it had been for centuries, and was a separate Archbishops domain within the larger entity of the German Reich. Salzburg, a beautiful city in the Alpine Valley, is now a part of Austria, incorporated during the Napoleonic period, shortly after Mozart’s untimely death in 1791, aged 36, possibly of rheumatic fever.

However, though he was not technically Austrian at the time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart moved to the Austrian capital and soon became one of the Great Vienna Classicists, along with the likes of Haydn and Beethoven). And with his obvious genius, it didn’t take long for Austria (specifically Vienna) to claim his as its own.

A century too late

Considering his genius, it’s perhaps even hard to understand why he had to wait one year shy of a century to get his own candy, called Mozartkugeln. (To be fair, getting a candy named after you is not a widespread custom in Central Europe). But good things come to those who wait: in 1890, the Mozart-Bonbon (already in a ball shape) first appeared, created by Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst.

As its creator failed to protect his patent law at Fürst (sorry!), numerous confectioners soon followed, creating a Mozartkugeln craze. Although several adjustments in the package design, the craze continues to this day, with some shops even exclusively dedicated to selling this praline and other Mozart merchandise.

Biting into a Mozartkugel, expect a marzipan and pistachio flavor covered in a layer of nougat and chocolate. Unwrap delicately, as the tinfoil wrapping bears the visage of one of the most brilliant composers of all time. Best served as a souvenir from Salzburg after a holiday of Alpine skiing or indulging in Mozart’s music.

Przemysław Bociąga

is a Polish journalist and essayist based in Warsaw. An anthropologist and art historian by education, he specializes in combining cultural phenomena with compelling narrative. He has authored and co-authored several books covering lifestyle and history. The most recent of them is “Impeccable. The biography of masculine image”. He has contributed to many leading magazines, both in print and online, and teaches cultural anthropology to college students.

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