A Negro’s Kiss

Those excitable patriots at Davids Medienkritik are up in arms about Germany’s lack of political correctness.  DM, with the sardonic commentary "German’s aren’t racists, it’s just good old fashioned German humor" links to a Slate piece about the infamous Negerkuss.  According to an "urgent missive" sent to Slate by Marc Fisher, a former Washington Post Berlin Bureau Chief, "The Negerkuss, a German ice cream treat similar to our Klondike bar, translates generously as ‘black man’s kiss’ and literally as ‘nigger’s kiss.’"  Strange — for someone who apparently lived in Germany for years, he makes a bunch of mistakes here.

First, the Negerkuss has nothing to do with ice cream.  It is the slang name for a pastry called the "Super Dickmann’s", made by the Storck company.  This confection consists of a rounded chocolate shell covering a marshmallow-foam interior, with a crispy wafer providing the base.  It is not advertised with racially-tinged logos; the cover of the package looks just the way you see it in the previous link.  These delicious pastries are the focus of one of Germany’s most hallowed traditions, in which participants (invariably in a state of high intoxication) try to be the first to eat three of them without using their hands.

The term Negerkuss is indeed used by ordinary folks to describe the pastry, but, as a commentator pointed out on Davids Medienkritik, the German word "Neger," while sounding quite a bit like the racist American insult, is understood as much less offensive, something like "negro" or "colored" in English.  Not particularly enlightened, but not extremely vicious.  If you think this is a sign of a civilization that poses a fundamental danger to the world, well, that’s exactly what Germans think when they see trailer parks

If you’re offended by the word Negerkuss, though, you won’t make it long in Germany.  German and European restaurants and bar owners display an overwhelming affinity for politically incorrect sculptures of happy black Sambos and Sambettes just a shuckin’ and a jivin’ their little Hottentot hearts out.  I have developed a theory that in the early 1970s, when displaying these problematic pieces of folk art became an invitation to a riot in the U.S., secret mass shipments of contained after container of politically incorrect sculptures were sent to Continental Europe.  I collect instances of these sculptures.  Here is by far the most impressive specimen I’ve ever seen, from a hotel in Essen, Germany.  And yes, they put a fresh copy of the racing form in his hand every morning:

Reading_the_sports_page

8 thoughts on “A Negro’s Kiss

  1. Sometimes I wonder if your postings have to be accepted at face value or if you banter with your audience. Your disquisition on the German Negerkuss is a fine example. To cite you: Strange – for someone who apparently lived in Germany for some years, you make a bunch of mistakes here.

    Saying “Negerkuss” is the slang name for a pastry called the “Super Dickmann’s” is like saying “Whisky” is the slang name for a liquor called “Johnny Walker”. First, “Negerkuss” is not slang but standard lanquage, though somewhat quaint or antiquated.

    Second, “Negerkuss” is a generic name, whereas “Super Dickmanns” is a brand name. The brand name “Super Dickmanns” arose in 1985, the pastry itself was invented in 19th century France and came to Germany in early 20th century. And since these times the pastry is called “Mohrenkopf” (black man’s head) or “Negerkuss” (black man’s kiss) without any racist connotations.

    Only since the sophistries of political correctness spilt over into Germany, it is also called “Schokokuss” (chocolate kiss). But if one translates “Negerkuss” into “negro’s kiss”, then there is just a lack of understanding German language.

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  2. Fisher is not completely wrong when saying that “Negerkuss” refers to a kind of ice cream. Indeed, in some ice cream parlors you can buy that kind of thing. It is an ice cream cone and the ice cream is covered with a chocolate coating.

    However, I would agree that “Negerkuss” is usually referred to those cream cakes with chocolate coating. Besides, I disagree with Gerd. It is correct to say that “Negerkuss” is the slang name for a pastry called the “Super Dickmann’s”. It is similar to to “Tempo” representing every kind of tissue. It is what is generally referred to as a “Begriffsmonopol”. Before, discounters developed their cheap copies of the “Super Dickmann’s” these were THE “Negerküsse”.

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  3. Jan,

    as Gerd wrote, the brand name “Super Dickmanns” is a relatively young creation. So it’s a question of age but everyone who is older than, say, 30 will never speak of “Dickmanns” as a slang name like “Tempo”.

    In 1985, you heard “Mann, ist der dick, Mann!” for the first time. The company cleverly played with its name and I think a great portion of the success was caused by the “ambiguity” of the slogan, very funny expecially for boys in puperty…

    “Negerküsse” and “Mohrenköpfe” as a product were invented in the 19. century in France. The French named it “tête de nègre”, that’s the reason for the “Mohrenkopf”. They used a mixture of sugar and eggs, something that you know in Germany as “Baiser” even today. The German translation for “baiser” is “küssen” [kissing], that was the reason for “Negerküsse”.

    And the next time we will discuss why Germans call a little cake “Amerikaner” ;-))

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  4. To shove some French Argot into this assortment of misunderstandings, the “mixture of sugar and eggs”, known in Germany as Baiser (French for “kiss”, both verb and noun), nowadays is called Meringue frogwise, as Baiser has developed some ambiguity in nowadays slang, and is thus not deemed suitable anymore. The German speaking Swiss stick with the French, lest it’s about Luxemburgerli (not Luxemburgerlis, you oafs!), which where called Baiser de Mousse in more innocent times. No, in Luxemburg Luxemburgerli are not known, why do you ask?

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  5. This just in from the newsdesk: when Frogs kiss, the mot juste being baiser, they say embrasser instead for the reasons given below. Asked to “embrace” other frogs in the word’s proper sense, they shoot themselves or explode.

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