Shopping in Kiel (Part 2): ‘cigars and many weird brands of sausage and tinned meats’

I imagine every sailor has at least one story about surviving on a single exotic and/or nightmarish foodstuff  for days. My own tale of woe involves a seemingly endless supply of Batchelors savoury rice served every day for what seemed like weeks, as we drifted slowly across the Hebridean sea during a windless heatwave. I was 13. I have never eaten savoury rice again – and never will.

rotsnoodleSince they are about to disappear into the Frisian sand for days on end, Carruthers & Davies know that they’re going to have to stock up on supplies that won’t go off too quickly. Tinned food is a must. The kind of German sausage that could have a half-life is also on the list. And then curiously, our heroes opt to stock up on… cigars? I can only think they believed – as many do – that tobacco curbs the appetite, thus reducing the total amount of food needed on board.

Tinned food in the early 1900s was still something of a novelty. Heinz tinned baked beans, for example, only started to appear on the shelves of Fortnum & Mason in 1886. (Heinz’s parents btw were Bavarian – another of many examples of the German diaspora influencing our story).

Certainly tinned meat revolutionised food on boats. Before tins, sailors who wanted meat would have largely relied on salted dried meat on long voyages. It took a while for the tinning process to be reliable, though. The ill-fated Franklin expedition to the Arctic in 1845 was fuelled partly by tinned food; sadly, it’s suspected that some dodgy tins might have ended up giving some of the officers lead poisoning.

As products became safer and more reliable Antarctic explorers like Shackleton and Scott were keen users of tinned goods. Scott had a particular yen for tins of golden syrup – for all the good it did him in the end.

Winding forward in history, tinned meat was also a staple of the German army during WW2. It’s noticeable, too, that current day survivalists, who are waiting for SHTF, are keen on stocking up on tinned foods. Here, for example, is a very useful guide to tinned food that suggests if you want to survive the coming apocalypse, you better have a lot of tins of pink salmon.

In the case of Carruthers and Davies, I’m confident they would have bought local delicacies such as tinned lunch tongue and brawn – the latter known in America as ‘head cheese’. Thanks to the influx of Baltic Poles into south London and the rise of continental supermarket chains such as Lidl and Aldi, I’m rather spoilt for choice when it comes to head cheese. There’ll be no problem re-enacting this part of the book, should we wish to. (Lloyd is not keen – he’s rather hoping there’s a McDonalds in Kiel)

Spam & head cheese – image via

Since we’re almost certainly going to be travelling on bikes rather than on a boat at this point, we won’t have the logistical problem of how to store all our food. This appears to be something of a fine art for many sailors – making sure that the weight distribution is correct, ensuring no salt water gets into the food, and preventing tins from rolling around or flying about in bad weather. Here’s a great article on storing tins on boats, for example:

When it comes to sausage, there’s very little doubt that the local offer in 1898 would have been knackwurst – a smaller slightly spicier version of a frankfurter. These days,all around the Baltic coast and beyond, it’s ‘kielbasa’ that is the staple sausage. It’ll be hard to avoid in Kiel, I suspect, even though it’s really Polish in origin.

“Knackwurst”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

As for cigars, I believe the most popular brand of cigar in Germany right now is Danemann Moods (which are actually cigarillos, but never mind). Gerhard Danemann is another late 18th century German who took his know-how across the Atlantic and built a global business. In his case, he took his experience of working in German tobacco warehouses to Brazil. By the time of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’, Danneman was already a big Brazilian cigar  brand, and very popular back home in Germany (mentioned by Thomas Mann in one of his books, no less).  Gerhard had become so enamoured with South America that he even changed his name to Geraldo.

Dannemann – German or Brazilian?

So it’s not just cads like Dollman who are rather fluid with their identity at this time. Even the cigars are not to be trusted.

6 thoughts on “Shopping in Kiel (Part 2): ‘cigars and many weird brands of sausage and tinned meats’

    1. Good thought, Jon. I guess ‘weird brands of sausage’ doesn’t give us much clue about what kind of sausage or salami – sliced or unsliced – we’re talking about here. Prompted by your comment I did a little bit more digging around and found this excellent article on ‘wurst’:

      Problem is, ‘wurst’ is an even more general term than ‘sausage’ according to this article:

      “Besides acting as the punch line of far too many jokes among English speakers in Germany, Wurst can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be sausage, salami, or even sliced meat made from a number of animals, or anything involving animal products that has been preserved for posterity. Mottled, marbled, or multi-colored, sometimes held together by gelatin, a mix of the well-known animal parts with the unexpected—all these products are collectively referred to by Germans as Wurst, often to the confusion of English speakers.”


  1. Headcheese, known in the north of England as brawn, was quite a popular filling for sandwiches back in the forties and fifties. My father always specified it with English mustard. I have not seen it since then.


    1. Probably not tinned brawn,Tony, but fresh from the butchers? Not sure butchers would offer it now, which is why you only see it in Polish/Eastern European delis in tins these days.


  2. Not food related, but there was another reference to Tim & Lloyd cycling at least some of the time. So what about indulging in at least some period cycling?

    From what i can glean, the safety bicycle was a fairly recent innovation, only appearing in 1890, and rapidly taking the place of the ‘high wheeler’,which had reached its zenith in the 1880’s when they “enjoyed a great popularity among young men of means” but if the front wheel was stopped unexpectedly the whole apparatus fell forward & the rider went head first over the front.

    Penny farthing’s ceased to be manufactured during the 1890’s although still continued to be ridden, even track racing until the 1920’s. There is some great footage of a veterans race from the 1930’s at But the safety bike would have probably been the thing & is fundamentally the direct for runner of the modern bike.

    1894 saw the manufacture of the bamboo bicycle, & today there is a Bamboo Bicycle Club in London, who do a home build kit see

    There has also been talk about how would Clara Dollman have been viewed for sailing by herself? Again maybe cycling may provide part of the answer.

    The 1890’s were a great leap forward for women. They seemed to take to the safety bike quite readily, it killed off the bustle & corset & led to “common sense dressing” for women.

    In 1894/5 Annie Kopchovsky rode round the world (although that may be a rather loose term, as trains & boats seemed to feature).

    In 1896 a Susan B Anthony commented “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time i see a woman ride by on a wheel. it gives woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.”

    So Clara out sailing by herself ?- every inch the modern woman – go girl!


    1. Good stuff Kevin. You’ve picked up on several references that I’ve been digging up too for the podcast. Thank you! I think you’ll enjoy the section on Clara we’re putting together…


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