German wave of nostalgia for East ahead of Berlin Wall anniversary





From gherkins to trainers and toothpaste to cola drinks, the consumer goods of a lost nation are now top of the shopping lists for millions of people - who are spending €100 million (£92 million) a year on former East German goods.

Zeha trainers are a case in point: once ridiculed by the Nike and Adidas-wearing West, the athletic shoes of the masses in the German Democratic Republic are now sold from a specialty shop on Kurfurstendamm, Berlin's most expensive shopping mile.

Zeha also has boutiques in Tokyo and New York. "It is retro design with high-quality manufacture," said Torsten Heine, who bought the brand name several years ago.

Another market leader two decades after the collapse of Communism is Germany's biggest sparkling wine brand, Rotkaeppchen, or "Red Riding Hood".

From being a bit player when the Berlin Wall fell, when it sold about 15 million bottles a year and served as the East German government's celebratory drink of choice, Rotkaeppchen is now a market leader, with sales of 140 million bottles a year and revenues close to £700 million.

East German washing powder, pickled cucumbers, coffee, soap and toothpaste, once flogged to a people who had no choice, are now riding high in an open market.

Observers say the latest love-in with the products of a nation that still exists in the minds of many goes beyond the simple "Ostalgie", or nostalgia for the East, that swept over Germany in the wake of reunification.



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