Skip to main content

Episode 2 of "Typical Switzerland"

Published: 13 September 2020

In the second part of the video series "Typical Switzerland" you can expect a colourful mixture of 5 products that are typical for Switzerland. Thank you very much for your many suggestions after the first part. Of course these have been included in this series. For each product you can expect exciting facts and background stories. I am very curious again, what was new for you.

In the following you will find the content of the video also in text form. More entertaining and richer in images is of course the video with English subtitles.

As always, the video does not claim to be complete and is primarily intended to contribute to entertainment. Do you know of any other products that are typical for Switzerland? Write it to me on YouTube in the comments. If you liked the video, I would be happy about a Like and a subscription.


There are probably very few Swiss people who do not have a packet of these popular herbal sweets in some drawer or bag. The Ricola brand also enjoys great popularity abroad, where it is rightly perceived as typically Swiss. The cough sweets help relieve coughs, sore throats and hoarseness. The herbal sugar, consisting of 13 herbs native to Switzerland, has an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and soothing effect. The herbal mixture consists of: Sage, peppermint, thyme, yarrow, speedwell, elderberry, mallow, ribwort, bibernelle, lady's mantle, marshmallow, horehound and primrose.

The name Ricola is an abbreviation of the original company name Richterich & Co, Laufen. The Swiss family business was founded in 1930 in Laufen in the canton of Basel-Land, where it is still based today and is being run by the third generation. Emil Richterich was intensively involved with the healing power of herbs and experimented with his own mixtures. In 1940 Emil Richterich mixed for the first time the recipe of 13 herbs for Swiss herbal sugar, which is still used today, and thus initiated the breakthrough for the company.

At this point I have a few more exciting facts for you: Swiss mountain farmers deliver over 1,400 tonnes of fresh herbs to Ricola every year. The Ricola Herbal Centre in Laufen is the largest clay building in Europe, measuring over 100 metres long, 11 metres high and almost 30 metres wide. Every year, five billion sweets are shipped from the herbal centre to 50 countries around the world. Ricola is strongly committed to organic herb cultivation and has signed long-term purchase contracts with Swiss herb farmers. There are 5 publicly accessible herb show gardens spread throughout Switzerland. Especially from May to September, they are worth a visit with their spicy fragrance and magnificent flowers. The in-house art collection includes contemporary Swiss art and promotes Swiss culture and artists.

Glarner Schabziger

Now we come to a much less known, but all the more historical and very special product. Either you hate it or you love it. This is the Glarner Schabziger, the oldest branded product in Switzerland. The Schabziger or also called Zigerstöckli is a greenish grated cheese. It is made from lean cow's milk and whey, is very rich in protein and low in fat. Its name comes from the fact that it used to be scraped off the so-called Zigerstock with a knife. It is often eaten as grated cheese on pasta, on bread or as a seasoning in fondue. It then appears in cookbooks and on menus as Zigerhörnli, Zigerfondue or Zigerbrut.

Even today, Schabziger cheese is still produced according to the same principle as it was a thousand years ago. Skimmed cow's milk is heated to over 90 °C and lactic acid culture is added. The milk thereby separates the ziger, which then contains all the protein of the milk. The fresh Ziger then cools down in shallow tanks before it undergoes an initial maturation of four to twelve weeks in the fermentation tank. The raw ziger is then crushed, mixed with salt and stored in silos for further maturation for three to eight months. It is only in this phase that the strong-smelling Zigerklee is added, which gives the Schabziger its green colour and unmistakable taste.

The Schabziger was first mentioned in writing in the 8th century. It served the people of Glarn as a tithe to the Säckingen monastery, which owned the Glarnerland until 1395. A law passed by the Glarus Landsgemeinde on 24 April 1463 obliged all producers in the Canton of Glarus to produce cheese according to quality standards, to mark it with a stamp of origin to protect it from imitation. This made it the oldest branded product in Switzerland. Until long after the Second World War, Schabziger cheese was sold right at the front door in many places in Switzerland. Since 2001, production has even been restricted to the capital Glarus. Today Schabziger is only produced by the Geska company. However, the sale of Schabziger was not limited to the Swiss Confederation. Already in the 16th century it was exported to France and Italy. Today it is exported as cheese or in seasoned form to up to 50 countries. When the peculiar cheese even made it across the ocean to the USA, the name proved to be unpronounceable. In the USA it is therefore known as Sap Sago.


When it comes to crisps, the Swiss swear by Zweifel. You will discover these popular chips at almost every aperitif, barbecue or picnic. Zweifel Pomy-Chips AG is now the undisputed market leader in Switzerland with a market share of over 50%. The path to this position led via detours. The breakthrough finally came with a unique and innovative service guarantee.

Zweifel has a long tradition of trade, agriculture and production dating back to the Middle Ages. For a long time the Zweifel family from Höngg worked as wine growers. Due to industrialisation and the destruction of the native vines, caused by diseases brought in from America, the Zweifel brothers were forced to rethink at the end of the 19th century. They decided not to concentrate only on viticulture, but to expand their field of activity to trade in wine and the production of fruit juices.  The focus of their activities was soon shifted to the production of fruit juices. After the Second World War, soft drinks became more and more fashionable and fruit juice production was no longer particularly lucrative. In the 1950s, Zweifel began trading in mineral water and entered the production of crisps. The production of crisps was originally only intended as a boost for the company's own fruit juice. After all, chips make you thirsty. However, they soon proved to be a sales hit in their own right. In the 80s, the production of fruit juices was discontinued and the production of chips remained.

The visionary Fresh Service, which travelled throughout Switzerland in eye-catching orange Zweifel buses from 1962, made the crisps known and sought after everywhere in no time at all. The staff of the Fresh Service supplied sales outlets and exchanged products free of charge and in good time. Particularly in the early days, when no best-before date was known, this service was of course worth its weight in gold and still exists today. Thanks to this service, Zweifel could always guarantee absolute freshness. Anytime and everywhere. This was well received and made Zweifel Switzerland's largest chips and snacks company within a very short time. The ingredients are also very Swiss. In normal harvest years, all potatoes come from Swiss farmers. Only in years with a weak harvest are they bought in from Europe. To make the chips so crispy, they are baked in pure Swiss rapeseed oil. Finally, the potatoes are salted with Swiss Alpine salt. Zweifel has remained loyal to the canton of Zurich to this day. Today the chips are produced in Spreitenbach.

Appenzeller Biberli

The Appenzell pastry par excellence. A Biberli is a palm-sized, finely spiced honey pastry filled with sweet almond paste. The exact spice mixture is a secret. To compare an Appenzeller Biberli with a normal gingerbread, even if the comparison is quite obvious, is about as popular in Appenzell as asking about the recipe for the spice mixture. Namely not at all. We already know the importance of secrecy in Appenzell from cheese advertising. The differences to gingerbread are mainly due to the fact that a Biberli is filled and eggs are missing in the Biber dough. The Biberli is a popular snack for in-between meals and the small form of the Biberli. The Biber, on the other hand, is more of a festive pastry or as a gift. The large Biber weigh up to 2 kg. A picture is often embossed on the upper side of the Biber. The most traditional is the heraldic animal of the Canton of Appenzell, a bear.

The history of the Biber as we know it today has its origins in the 19th century. However, the first recipes with an almond paste as the filling were not found in cookbooks from Appenzell but from St. Gallen. Gingerbread and honey pastries were known much earlier, but always without filling. Before the Industrial Revolution, sugar was an expensive commodity imported from India or the Caribbean. It was only after the industrial extraction of cheap sugar from local beet was made possible that the first recipes with filling were developed in Eastern Switzerland, and the Biber was born. Every bakery has its own recipe and no two Bibers taste the same.

There is no consensus about the origin of the term Biber. Some sources point to the derivation from the Latin word piper, which means pepper. In the Middle Ages, pepper was also generally understood to mean spices. Since gingerbread pastries originated in monasteries and Latin was the language of the medieval monasteries, this is conclusive but not proven. Other sources refer to the Middle High German word Bimenzelten, which means flat cakes or flat pastries. But no matter where the word comes from, whether it originates from St. Gallen or Appenzell, Biberli is a sweet East Swiss speciality that you must try.


Whether cervelat, Klöpfer, Stumpen, Proletenfilet, fillet in the intestine, worker trout or chops of the poor man, the smoked boiled sausage has many names and is considered by many as the Swiss national sausage. On 1 August, at the scout camp and at barbecues, this sausage is a permanent fixture. Especially the connection to the bank holiday is deeply rooted. The Cervelat was first mentioned in 1891 in connection with the Swiss National Day, August 1. 160 million Cervelat are eaten in Switzerland every year. That's a whole 20 pieces per head and three times as much as bratwursts. There are many ways to prepare them. From creative grill patterns to worker cordon blue (filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon). The only true one, however, is grilled with cross-cuts at the ends and over the fire.

The sausage is made from beef, pork, back fat, rind and ice cream as well as spices and pickling salt. The natural casing is usually an imported Brazilian beef small intestine. These beef intestines were also the reason for the Cervelat crisis in 2008. During the mad cow crisis the European Union decided to stop the import of Brazilian beef intestines and Switzerland had to follow suit. In 2008, stocks slowly became scarce and the 15-member "Cervelat Task Force" was set up. No joke! The taskforce was desperately looking for solutions to the national tragedy. Besides other beef intestines, pig intestines and an artificial new development based on collagen were tested. Finally, imports from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay were used. In 2012 the European Union lifted the ban on Brazilian beef casings again. The crisis was overcome.

Incidentally, in Switzerland, less important celebrities, the so-called C celebrities, are pejoratively referred to as Cervelat celebrities. This is nothing new for Swiss people and all those living in Switzerland, but this term is not familiar outside Switzerland.

Do you know any other well-known Swiss products? Or do you have wishes for future videos? Write it to me on YouTube in the comments. If you liked the video, I would be happy about a Like and a subscription.

Share this page with your friends

This might also interest you