Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Fate Worse Than Death

It was long thought that the very tiny German pixie men were nothing more than a novelty dreamed up to delight tourists and fashion cuckoo clock springs, and that once the penchant of northern Europeans for digital timepieces overcame their sentimental adoration of wooden ones, the miniature fellows would find themselves out of work.

Fearing what might happen should a hoard of starving, underemployed wee Germans take to the streets, the beneficent owners of a local sauerkraut factory devised a solution: he put them to work in the pickle vats, where they stood, in doll-sized wellington boots upon the raw cabbage, raking it over and throwing tiny armfuls of salt upon each layer. A good pair could thus be occupied in a sauerkraut barrel for an entire day.

If, however, one or both succumbed to fatigue and did not meet their quota quickly enough, the ladder providing their only means of exit would be lifted away from the barrel’s edge until productivity increased.

After a particularly unfortunate incident which resulted in the suffocation of a miniscule sauerkraut worker who slipped and was quickly inundated with a fresh load of shaved cabbage from the chute above, the little people called a strike in order to win better working conditions.

Sadly, the strike resulted in halting the supply of sauerkraut to the stores, whereupon German housefraus abandoned cabbage as a staple and switched instead to a diet consisting entirely of sausage. Millions died as a result of clogged arteries.

Today, these events are memorialized in the extremely small and hard to see plastic figurine which can be found buried in every jar of sauerkraut. Luckily, the label warns against swallowing said figure, and offers up a year’s supply of kraut to anyone finding a special sauerkraut turning pitchfork instead.

The Cooking of Germany, Time-Life Books, 1968

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