Why Germans have a day to celebrate the 'Butterbrot' sandwich


Single topping

Stulle, Bemme, Bütterken, Knifte – a simple slice of buttered bread has many names all over the country. Despite the wealth of fast snacks available everywhere, it's still a classic at any time of the day. The CMA agriculture marketing group declared the Day of the German Butterbrot in 1999. The CMA no longer exists, but the day celebrating Germany's buttered bread lives on.


Evening meal

Germans eat one hot meal a day, so bread with butter and a slice of cold meat or cheese is a common German evening meal - it really is called "Abendbrot," evening bread. Unlike a sandwich, the traditional Butterbrot has few, if any, other toppings.


Endangered species?

Butterbrot fans created a website where they campaign for the preservation of the traditional buttered slices of rye bread "in the era of baguettes, sandwiches and croissants." They post recipes, art, quotes, literature and cartoons – and profess: "Yes, we butter our bread slices!" Above, the bread is spread with delicious Schmalz: rendered pork fat.



The Butterbrot has a fancy party variety, too, often seen on buffet tables. In the 1970s, when entire families sat glued to the TV on Saturday evenings, moms would prepare and serve plates of sliced, cut and topped bread.


Bavarian specialty

Hearty, solid food: the Bavarian Brotzeit (again, bread is a staple ingredient) is a snack that was originally munched between breakfast and lunch, but is now widely available at any time of the day in southern Germany.



If you peek into children's and teenagers' school bags, you can be sure to find one or two "Butterbrote," usually not just the buttered kind but topped with cheese, cold cuts, jam or a gooey chocolate spread. It's a common second breakfast at work and on trips for adults, too.


'I love Butterbrot'

Many years ago, my grandmother in the western city of Dortmund would invariably make us kids slices of buttered bread ("Bütterken") for the road after a visit, for our two-hour drive back home. Stuffed as we were after lunch, cake and Abendbrot – there was always room for another Butterbrot.

It's traditional fare for young and old alike: A slice of fresh bread spread with nothing but butter. Every year in late September, Germans celebrate the day their beloved staple, the "Butterbrot."

 It's easy. All you need is... bread and butter.

Presto, the German "Butterbrot" sandwich, good for breakfast or a snack, kids and adults, dinner and on-the-road.

Pumpernickel or rye, wheat bread with or without grains, or perhaps some spelt or millet in the mix, or even walnuts: The varieties are endless. 

It is usually open-faced, and simply spread with butter, and it's enough of a cultural mainstay that the "Butterbrot" has its very own day of celebration every year on the last Friday of September.

Find out more about it by clicking through the gallery above.

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