The name "Bahlsen" on a two foot tall by three foot long sign near the public sidewalk lets you know this is the place. Thick hedges, tall trees and a large green grassy area serve as buffers from the street. The lobby contains a giant display containing packages of their various cookies.
I've seen their familiar cookies in every country I've been to and have always been curious about their unusual logo which is: the name Balhsen in white lettering inside a blue elongated square and next to the name there's a red oval containing the letters "TET" and an oval with a snake and a semi-circle with three dots. "What the heck is that?", is the first question I ask Svenja Broda of the press & information department. Seems the oval with the snake, the semi-circle and three dots should actually be pronounced "dschet" but it has been simplified to "TET". It is derived from an ancient Egypt hieroglyphic meaning "ever-lasting". Friedrich Tewes, a friend of founder Hermann Bahlsen (1859-1919) proposed the symbol back in 1904.
About 30 employees work here on this site which was originally bought in the early 1900's to house a factory and an employee residential housing facility but, the First World War prevented the plan from ever being carried out.
Bahlsen has a large art collection consisting of German contemporary artists. These include Adolf Hoezel (1853-1934), Willy Jaeckel (1888-1955), Heinrich Mittag (1859-1920) and Martel Schwichtenberg (1896-1945).
Big doings going on here at this private family-owned company with revenues in 1995 of 2.1 billion DM and over 10,000 employees. Founded a 107 years ago in 1889, the partners of Bahlsen, the members of the Werner Bahlsen and Hermann Balhsen branches of the Bahlsen family, have decided to go their separate ways. The H. Bahlsen branch takes over the US subsidiary Austin Quality Foods in Cary, North Carolina as well as other foreign assets while the W. Bahlsen clan take over all the shares in the founding company which will be implemented at the end of 1996. That explains the new name Bahlsen KG which differed from the H. Bahlsens Keksfabrik KG found in my research.
While going through the questions, CEO Werner Bahlsen appears in the next room to ask one of Broda's colleagues a questions. Broda steps out for a minute to ask Bahlsen if I can see his office. The answer is "no" due to "he's busy".
I don't leave here empty-handed as I'm give a suitcase sized box filled with over 30 varieties of cookies and snacks which I strap on to the rear of my bike..
Employees enjoy a 25% discount on the various goodies baked by Bahlsen and also enjoy meals cooked in the cafeteria by an Austrian chief. On a corner of the property there's a factory outlet store which I check out. The place is packed with shoppers and I'm amazed at the extensive line of Bahlsen products manufactured. Balhsen is the world's fifth largest maker of sweets & snacks.
Oh yeah, back at my hotel room I have a tasting party in which I --open every one of the 30-something items and either wolf it all down, taking a big chunk out of it to see what it tastes like or give it to the front desk help at the hotel. I mean after all, how much junk, oops, I mean sweets can even a junk food junkie take.