24 July 2019

Enjoying the spicy classic in the skies

How currywurst gets on the plane at TUI fly, the only airline offering Germany’s favourite meat snack

Nobody knows exactly who dreamed it up – but Herta Heuwer, a doughty Berliner running a snack bar, is credited with inventing the popular snack: currywurst (or curried sausage). When one day in 1949 she did not have much to do, she started to mix new sauces to fight boredom. She combined tomato paste, pepper powder, a few other spices and in particular curry powder, still relatively uncommon at the time, creating a reddish-brown sauce that was to become a real icon of German cuisine: currywurst. According to estimates, 800 million currywursts are consumed in Germany every year – some of them even high in the sky.

After all, TUI fly’s in-flight menu includes the classic dish. The airline, part of TUI Group, is the only carrier serving currywurst every day. But how does the currywurst arrive on the plane? The answer to that question starts in the small town of Würselen near Aachen, where the family-run company Frankenberg specialises, inter alia, on catering for air passengers. The currywurst dish produced by the frozen menu manufacturer passes a number of stations including the “seasoning station”, where employees use touchscreens to retrieve recipes for various dishes including currywurst, and weigh the spices in accordance with the recipe displayed. This guarantees steady quality even when producing large quantities.

In the “frying kitchen“, the sauce is combined with the pork sausage. The sausage is cut into slices and initially lands in a twin-belt deep fryer. The meat slices disappear in an oil bath and reappear at the other end, two metres down the belt, as golden brown chunks. They are then combined with the sauce as well as potato wedges. The operators fill the mix into small bowls, which are sealed by a machine. An automatic weight control system sorts out any portions that are not within the specific limits. The currywurst portions within the tolerance then undergo the final process: shock freezing at -40 degrees centigrade. “This ensures that the cell membranes are kept intact and the food will not go soft when defrosting,” says Laura Friedrichs, daughter of company founders Helga and Rüdiger Friedrichs. Logistics companies then deliver the deep-frozen currywursts to airports across Europe, where TUI fly loads the meals onto its aircraft. And how do passengers like the classic snack? Their judgment is clear: TUI fly’s currywurst is always extremely popular.