Handkäs with Jazz

Handkäs with music is a classic, middle-class pub dish in Frankfurt. By default, the cheese is served with a vinegar-oil-onion music often supplemented with caraway seeds. That in itself is a very good, quite intense regional culinary experience. Unfortunately, this combination is largely unknown outside of Hesse and many visitors and even some Hessians have fear of contact with this cultural asset.

Tangible potential

As advocates of Hessian cuisine, we see potential in Handkäs’ mit Musik.
We were already taken with the name. “With music…” which probably gave the name to the classic onion vinaigrette as a euphemism for flatulence, can also be interpreted quite differently. Music at all. We thought of styles that have shaped us but also the city of Frankfurt: Jazz, rap and techno are therefore the basis for our first steps with our own music creations.

We became directly nostalgic and had to think of old favorite records. And we are already at the packaging. Because LPs are not somehow lovelessly welded in plastic, but lovingly, according to the content, wrapped in a thoughtful and usually very appealing packaging design.

Precisely because the music cannot be heard when you look at the packaging, the sound is visually depicted synesthetically, so to speak. Anyone who has ever discovered fantastic music via a record sleeve knows what we’re talking about.

Three kinds of music
Here plays the music

Back to the hand cheese. The enjoyment here should also start with the packaging and the overall concept. Inspired by record sleeves we try to get regionality, craftsmanship but also modern demands on the packaging and into the music. The music of the classic version is relatively monotonous, but caraway seeds give the sour onion marinade that certain something, and with the cheese it’s just a treat.
However, it is precisely this intensity that deters many. We try it a little less strict, but more aromatic and complex. Regionality should also come into play but not in a folkloristic way, because Frankfurt is in a constant state of change.

For our recipe development on techno, jazz and rap, sensual considerations play together with conceptual ones. It will sound like this:

Handkäs with Techno

Frankfurt was a world city for electro beats. There were legendary clubs here and DJ greats like Sven Väth provided the world with their sound around the clock from Frankfurt. Then as now there is Handkäs with music and now also with techno. Techno is intense and extensive, loud and steady, the pulse beat of an attitude towards life. The Handkäs with music is austere, intense, sour (ACID), a strong white wine vinegar and spicy, a little chili gives us the kick for it but also bright and healing, turmeric and curry bring intense colors and flavors of another world to this Hessian specialty. This is dance n’ trance. The toughness of Frankfurt paired with the gentleness of Goa.

Cheese ‘n Trance

Handkäs with Rap

Frankfurt is rap: Moses Pelham made Rödelheim the epicentre of German rap back in the 1990s and now AZAD and Offenbach-based rappers like Hafti are giving the banking city street cred. It’s about money, lots of money, but also sometimes drugs and dodgy dealings. These partially dark worlds are not that far removed from our lives. And what does that mean for our Handkäs accompaniment?

The traditional marinade is refined aromatically. Apple balsamic provides gentle sweetness, because despite all the hardness, a rapper is also a Frankfurt Bubb at heart. As the boss of the store, Ras el Hanout gives an inimitable aroma, cumin underlines this otherness, sumac provides a special acidity, a little mint makes things fresh and hemp seeds bring relaxed calm. Coal can’t buy you everything, but it does lend something sinister to it. Gold leaf enriches the mix. Eat the rich Brudi. Chabos know how to eat Handkäs.

Rap has (for us) many different consistencies

Handkäs with Jazz

Frankfurt is jazz. Whether in an underground jazz cellar or in the Mampf jazz club – where the world of jazz meets regional culinary delights. Jazz is local and global, simple and complex, relaxing and demanding. Just like the cities where this music is at home – be it the Big Apple or Frankfurt itself. Handkäs with Jazz is sweet and complex, with the soft and subtle flavour of after hours. Apple is enhanced with coriander to provide a relaxing and sophisticated global pleasure – the best accompaniment for great jazz music. Why not open a bottle of single variety apple wine to complete the perfect flavour combination?

While our music is very different, the packaging should be consistent.
Normally, hand cheese is offered in retail stores shrink-wrapped in plastic without music. In the cider bar or at home, everyone does their version of classical music to it, already here there are weighty differences and discussions accordingly. We would like to design an attractive package for hand cheese with music. Now how exactly should the marinade be included? Or should the cheese already be in it? Many swear by at least 24 hours of soaking. But too long is not ideal either. We have tasted hand cheese with our musics in the team and with traditional hand cheese producers as well as discussed, discarded and redesigned many packages!

The tasting
The tasting in the office quickly became a Frankfurt brunch

The package is the message.

Our internal tasting resulted in positive feedback. We received interesting comments about the intensity and the orientation of the individual music styles. Is jazz sweet? Are our technovibes too intense? Should rap crunch? We realized that it’s just like music: there are different preferences. It is therefore important to clearly communicate the differences so that people can choose their favorite music. Just as with music, it is important to be open to new things, because that enriches in any case.

That’s exactly what the packaging is supposed to communicate: Don’t be afraid of hand cheese with music, because it can even be really fun. Just grab a pack, try different music with friends and discuss the impressions.

In advance, it was necessary to clarify which functions the packaging had to fulfill. Structural Design creates packaging that meets our requirements.

We have decided to include one music – in an extra container – with each hand cheese and the outer packaging should ideally be non-plastic and sturdy, so that it can also be easily displayed in the store. As it is with design proposals, we discussed several variants and went several rounds.

On the one hand, the flat carton reminds us of one of the most popular take-away dishes: pizza. On the other hand, records are sold in boxes made of cardboard. Our box is practical and hopefully evokes positive associations. Now this still has to be designed graphically. We initially developed variants that more or less directly referenced record designs.

In the end, however, we decided on a design that emphasized fun with the product rather than the music itself. The blue color is reminiscent of the typical Bembel blue and the slogan “Say Cheese” also appeals to international tourists. That would be the beginning of our Food Brand Strategy for our modern handkäs with music.

Our idea has now become reality, at least as a prototype. We are still fine-tuning the details and working to ensure that it doesn’t remain a prototype. After all, our music is meant to break the monotony of hand cheese offerings and help present a great regional specialty to a wider audience.

Food packaging design based on what we call Food Lab

Our food has fascinated us – also in a professional context for more than a decade. Where outstanding packaging design for small and large food manufacturers is created, you want to smell, feel, hear and taste before you’ve seen too much. The eye (our dominant sensory organ) greatly influences purchasing decisions. That’s where Shopper Activation begins, we know! To ensure that the purchase is followed by the right product experience to go with the packaging design, we examine the food our clients present to us more closely, which is the only way we can be an effective food design agency.