Questionable German Word of the Week – Confirmation Sought

Ed Philp trying valiantly to pick up the slack and prevent reader stats from plummeting.

The German Word Of the Week is Brotzeit, and it needs your input. Specifically, I mean the convenience stores / corner stores in Munich, run by independent proprietors, which I seem to recall often call themselves Brotzeit.

This doesn’t seem to be a company name, like 7-11 or Macs, but instead, just a local variation. Düsseldorf euphemistically has Trinkhallen, Berlin has blunt little Spätkauf; I think these corner stores are just efficiently called Kiosk in Frankfurt.  In Rottenburg am Neckar, Durlach or Eisenach, these places are part of the Lokalbahnhof chain, and also conveniently offer regional train service. But Munich appears to have Brotzeiten. Can anyone (perhaps from Munich) confirm this? And explain where this designation comes from?

Or was I taken in by a bunch of seedy stay-up-late bakers who have diversified into magazines and beer?

And are there different names in Hamburg, Dresden, Stuttgart, Nürnberg, etc.?

Thanks in advance for any clarification!

4 thoughts on “Questionable German Word of the Week – Confirmation Sought

  1. It’s true that Brotzeit is a Bavarian/Austrian expression, which you’ll rarely hear in Düsseldorf or Berlin, but it’s not a name for a store. It’s something like a large snack. Where stores advertise with the word Brotzeit, it means that you can get the ingredients for a Brotzeit there.

    A quite useful explanation from Wikipedia: “Die Bezeichnung Brotzeit kommt ursprünglich aus dem bayerischen Sprachraum. Sie wurde früher von Bauern, Almhirten, Handwerkern und Wandersleuten als Zwischenmahlzeit verzehrt und ist auch heute noch beliebt. Eine Brotzeit besteht aus einigen Scheiben Brot, meist würzigem Natursauerteig-Brot, verschiedenen Käse- und deftigen Wurstsorten, Pressack, Geselchtem und/oder Schinken. Gerne isst man dazu auch den Obazt’n, Kartoffelkas, Radieserl und Radi. Diese Speise wird typischerweise auf einem großen Holzteller serviert, und am besten soll dazu ein Bier aus dem Keferloher, dem traditionellen Bierkrug aus Steinzeug, schmecken.” (no real Brotzeit without a beer…)


  2. Thank you Norbert – I appreciate the assistance! Not having had dinner yet this evening, there is going to be a massive Brotzeit in my house this evening. If only I could find Obazt’n here.


  3. Yes, I agree with Norbert. A Brotzeit is the typical dinner in Bavaria, where you have some bread, assorted cold cuts (smoked ham!) and cheese (obatzda!). It is not a store definition.


  4. I think you have to seperate the meal from the shop. A “Brotzeit” is a meal taken between meals, which is evident in the formal german expression “Zwischenmahlzeit”. Hence the first of those “Brotzeits” to be had in a day is nothing but “second breakfast” which was common usage in the western world until it came out of fashion only a few decades ago. Imagine nobles having a Gabelfrühstück of grouse-pie and a glass of claret after the first ride of the day or peasants enjoying a few substantial bites after having fed the cattle. A second “Brotzeit” could and can fill the long hours between lunch and supper in a similar way.

    There are many regional synonyms for “Brotzeit” like “Jause” (Austria), “Vesper” (Baden-Württemberg), “Merende” (Tyrol, cp. “merienda”) , and in german-speaking Switzerland people even specify “Z’nüni” (at 9 a.m.)and “Z’vieri” (at 4 p.m). Almost completely out of use is “Kollation”, whereas “Imbiss” has survived mainly because snack-boothes and food-stands still are called “Imbissbuden”. A lot of asian take-aways call themselves “Asia-Imbiss”, “Thai-Imbiss” …

    You may get a modest “Zwischenmahlzeit” at a “Bude”, “Trinkhalle”, “Kiosk” or “Wasserhäuschen”, yet providing snacks is not their main business. This institution is something very special. They often sell papers, but are more than a newsstand. You can have a drink there, but a “Wasserhäuschen” is not a bar or pub. In the 1950ies there were about 500 of them alone in Frankfurt/Main, from which aprox. 250 have survived and remain a vital part of traditional every-day-culture here in Frankfurt. Their character ranges between friendly well-stocked neighbourhood-grocery and lowest boozer. At the latter variety inevitably there are some regular customers hanging around for whom the “Wasserhäuschen” is their favourite haunt. In the days when all shops in Frankfurt closed at 18:30, any “Wasserhäuschen” was very important for providing alcoholic supplies.

    You’ll hardly find any typical “Buden” or “Wasserhäuschen” in Bavaria or Berlin, whereas many of them can be found in both the Rhein-Main-region and parts of Northrhine-Westphalia.

    More at:




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