Meal Packaging: Henkelmann

7 Mar

If you were thinking that the tiffin, pinto and rantang are so very Asian, let me assure you that we can come up with some continental European versions too. I give you not Chicken Man, but Henkel Man from Germany.

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The Henkelmann, which is the most widely used German term, has a history strongly intertwined with industrialisation and the move from farm/rural labour to factory/urban labour. So being, it is also strongly associated with the Ruhr area, where development was notably influenced by coal mining and steel giants. The Ruhr (represented by the city of Essen) was the European Capital of Culture in 2010.

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Also known as a Döppen (loosely translated: dunking under water) in the local Ruhr dialect, these enamel or aluminium food carriers made their debut before the advent of company canteens. Typically housewives would fill the Henkelmann with a meal and the carrier+food would be heated by means of hot water or steam at the factory. Judging by the lunchbox market here and here there could be a renaissance underway…

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In a similar turn on a theme as the Thai packaging designer did for pinto and rice here, the student canteen association in the city of Bochum (absolutely Ruhr) recently used well-known features of the henkelmann (white, metal carrier, portability) for its meal services.

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The Ruhrpott, as the region is lovingly known, has some entrepreneurs upholding this cultural icon such as the soup-and-salad bar Henkelmann Deluxe in Düsseldorf below and the Jazz Club Henkelmann in Iserlohn below-below. The -pott part comes from pütt, a term used for the mines; much as we like to play with its cooking connotations (Der Pott kocht).

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