It’s amazing how many business meetings there are in Munich in late September

During my emergency vacation, we stopped at a German supermarket, and my friend loaded up on all sorts of odd and fascinating products. This is something he does every time he travels abroad. At the register, my friend did the work of unloading the cart onto the conveyor belt while I went ahead to bag and to deal with any questions from the cashier, since I was the only German-speaking person in our little group. The woman behind my friend looked at what he was buying and made some remark that implied that he did not make the most price-efficient choices.

My friend replied, "Oh, we're from the United States, and I'm just buying things that we don't have in the States."

The woman's demeanor changed. She was no longer upset that my friend failed to purchase the sale items. Instead, she said with concern, "But these are not typical German items."

My friend explained, "I just like buying different things."

I was out of earshot for this conversation. Otherwise, I would have quipped, "Keine Sorgen. Letztes Mal haben wir typische deutsche Sachen gekauft." ("Don't worry. Last time, we bought typical German things.")

Bonus chatter: As we loaded the groceries into the car, a gentleman noticed that we were speaking English and pegged us for foreigners. He asked us, "What brings you to Munich?"

My friend explained, "I'm here for a business meeting."

The gentleman replied with a twinkle in his eye, "It's amazing how many business meetings there are in Munich in late September."

By popular demand: A few people wanted to know what sort of odds and ends my friend bought. To be honest, I don't remember because, after all, it was seven years ago. But it included novelty candies (for example, in the United States, candy cigarettes are difficult if not impossible to find), food packaged in squeezable tubes, and cans of fruit cocktail. I don't know why he got the fruit cocktail.

Comments (20)
  1. ^ wants to know more about the "odd and fascinating products" available in Germany

  2. tobi says:

    Viele Grüße aus Karlsruhe! Scheinbar glauben viele Ausländer, dass typisch deutsche Gegenstände Hakenkreuze oder Bilder von Hitler aufgedruckt haben ;-) Das gibt es aber nur in Östereich, weil es hier verboten ist.

  3. thomas woelfer says:

    Munich in late september:  



  4. Chris says:

    We also looooove to indulge in German supermarkets (or even the smaller Aldis and whatnot), excellent products for excellent prices, compared to what we have here in Vancouver. Would go broke if we ate here like that. And German consumer confections/candies are definitely of a higher quality than the stuff we get here in Canada.

  5. Christian says:

    Hoffentlich habt Ihr auch Aldi besucht. Das ist so ein toller Supermarkt: Kaum Werbung, alle Produkte meist hervorragend (gute Ergebnisse bei Stiftung Warentest) und günstig, alles direkt auf Paletten. Finde ich zumindest typisch deutsch, alle Schichten kaufen da.

  6. Julian says:

    Hey, I live in Munich! :)

    Although I'm gonna take flight and spend the next two weeks in South Tyrol (not even on purpose, mind you, but a lucky coincidence indeed). I don't like it when I get drunk just by breathing the air inside of an U-Bahn. ;)

    And yeah, I'm also curious about what your friend bought at the supermarket.

  7. Michael Puff says:

    Also ich hätte Raymond in ein Edeka geschickt. Aber mich würde mal interessieren, was sie gekauft haben, was es in den USA nicht gibt.

    Well, I would have Raymond sent to Edeka. But I am curious what products they have bougth which they don't have in the USA.

  8. Christoph says:

    Bonus correction: "No worries" in that example would have more properly translated to "Kein Problem," since "Keine Sorgen" sounds a little odd to german ears. (but you're right, it's the literal translation) If anyone's interested. ;)

  9. Voo says:

    @Christoph: Actually it sounds a bit off, because it should be "Keine Sorge" in that case.

  10. from Munich says:

    I really have to leave now because my business meeting starts in 7 minutes.

  11. Roland from Bavaria says:

    It's the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest this year. In the last 200 years, you were allowed to have a smoke in the Oktoberfest tents. This year will be the last – from next year on, smoking in the tents will no longer be allowed. I'm afraid that in 20 years, consuming beer will be limited to 1 litre per person to protect the environment. In 50 years, beer will be banned completely. As a result, in 51 years, there will be a Oktoberfest tea party. As a result, in the follwing year, the original Oktoberfest constitution from 1810 will be restored.

  12. Voo says:

    @Roland: You may or may not support the smoke ban (I was sure it was already in place?), but there's clearly a difference between smoking and drinking beer.. at least it's kinda hard to get people passive drunk ;)

  13. Roland says:

    @Voo: My opinion is that there should not be a complete smoking ban at the Oktoberfest. We could have smokers tents and non-smokers tents with a clear sign at the entry. Then everybody could decide himself where to go. I'm not a cigarette smoker, but smoking special thin Austrian cigars (called "Virginias" even in Bavaria) was a typical Oktoberfest tradition. You could even buy them from the waitresses.

    @Raymond: Candy cigarettes might soon be banned in Germany also (…/Schokoladenzigarette)

  14. Landa says:


    No, you won't find stuff like that in Austria either…

  15. Pi says:

    "Keine Sorge" is perfectly legitimate in that case and doesn't sound off. "Keine Sorgen" might sound a little off but I couldn't even explain why. The first one is saying something like "Don't worry" and the second one "We have no worries" which would only fit if someone was explicitely asked for his worries.

  16. Gabe says:

    Christoph: Don't worry; "No worries" sounds a bit off to my American ears as well. It's actually an Australian idiom that has gained currency in America due to Australian-themed movies, restaurants, etc. Whenever I hear it, I assume somebody is trying to evoke Australia.

  17. Neil (SM) says:


    There is Aldi in the US also; it's a German import! Reputable as a place to find deeply discounted goods.

    Something (to an American like me) sounded typically German about the woman's disapproval of your friend's inefficient purchases.  

  18. Horst Kiehl says:

    Funny how things coincide sometimes: On Friday, you wrote about the woman that suddenly became concerned that your friend wasn't buying the proper items that you "don't have in the States". On Saturday, I happened to buy a book[1] from a bargain bin written by an American living in Germany (another one of those books that describe to us Germans how Americans are viewing us — which I find quite interesting). In a kind of summary chapter he writes about "the top 10 misunderstandings of the Germans about themselves", with item no. 8 being "we Germans are simply unfriendly" with a counter-example where he received far too much friendliness/helpfulness because he really did want to go to the post office on a Sunday — though not for stamps, sending a letter or whatever, but because of its automatic teller machine, which he didn't want to mention.

    Still, he doesn't argue me into wanting to be less friendly, or that I was friendly enough… but he did remind me that sometimes I tend to be over-explaining at work.

    [1] Eric T. Hansen, Planet Germany – Eine Expedition in die Heimat des Hawaii-Toasts

  19. Mark says:

    Hmm. I will look out for weird food items including candy cigarettes when I visit South Africa next month. Will your friend eat mopani worms if I bring some back?

  20. John Webber says:

    @Roland – as you've probably discovered by now, the smoking ban at the Oktoberfest is already in effect this year.

    @Raymond – did your friend buy a jar of Nutella? Now that's typically German!

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