Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

Michelin man from the caramel industry

Let me share with you a curious discovery of an Austrian brand called Kirstein and its flagman product ‘Blockmalz’ – caramels made out of barley malt that are traditionally used as a medicine against cough (if you haven’t tried them, just be aware that it’s the best-tasting caramel in the world, or… at least on the territory of the ex-Austro-Hungary).

But it’s not the most important thing about the brand. The mascot of Kirstein is an equivalent of a creepy Michelin tyre man, just made out of… caramel blocks (which instantly reminds us of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition with its protagonist suffering from a Michelin man phobia – a fear totally justified!).

Now brace yourself for the pictures.

The Kirstein brand was relaunched in 2017, when at the age of 76 the grandson of the founder decided it’s a good idea to have a start-up (it was). The brand was originally founded in 1912, when the first factory (Blockmalzfabrik!) was opened in Vienna. And there was an even earlier confectionary shop opened in 1877 by the same family. Imagine some man in the 1910s working as a graphic designer for Kirstein’s Blockmalzfabrik whose only job was to draw scenes from the life of a caramel man busy doing some typical Austrian bourgeois activities.

What was the life in Vienna like in 1912? The WWI would only start in 2 years, the Austro-Hungarian empire would fall in 6 – in 1918. Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were drawing their best paintings. Both of them would die in a couple of years from the Spanish flu. Neither the cough syrup nor the malt candies would be effective against coughing out blood and pieces of rotting lungs. In 1912 Hitler was 23. Was an Austrian caramel man unsuspecting of the future prospects of the fall of Empire, the idea of Greater Germany, the Anschluss coming in 1938? Too many questions, never enough answers.

Anyway, let’s take a moment to appreciate the creepy peculiarity of Blockmalz design.

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