The always fascinating folks at Atlas Obscura have determined that Volkswagen — a brand that is typically known for selling cars — has been selling sausages with their own part number since 1973.
These tube steaks were originally envisioned as a breakfast item at the carmaker’s factories back when most of VW’s cars were still the air-cooled variety. Volkswagen Originalteil (German for “original part”) is a “currywurst sausage,” are typically served either whole or sliced and mixed with another VW-sourced item, curry-flavored ketchup.
The surprise is just how much effort goes into making these. According to VW a staff of 30 — mostly butchers — is required to make the links, and they churn out a staggering 18,000 per day.
“The sausages come in two lengths, and are dried, smoked over beechwood, and then steamed at 350°F for 100 minutes,” the article notes. “The finished product is shipped in packs of five to VW dealerships all over the country, who then gift it to customers after a successful sale.”
What’s it taste like? VW answers: “To an American palate accustomed to bratwursts and other sausages typically labeled “sweet” or “hot,” the currywurst walks the broad space in between. There’s a strong yellow curry flavor, but with a kick from the pepper and ginger in the spices. The actual recipe, as devised by the original Volkswagen butchers in 1973, is an official company secret known only to a few people.”
Three times a week, fresh pork from nearby farms arrives and the butchers grind choice cuts into a sausage mix right at the Wolfsburg factory. “Our currywurst has a fat content of only 20 percent. Normally, it’s around 35 percent,” explains Head Butcher Franco Lo Presti, who has been making VW currywurst since 1979.
In 2017 alone, VW shipped more than 7 million sausages. That’s about 800,000 more units than it moved in its car business.
For those of you unfortunate enough not to get a pack of dogs when you buy your next Jetta, Volkswagen sells its house-brand brats in stores in Germany. It also offers them online, but they don’t ship anywhere but Germany.