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Communist Era Products Making Comebacks

Updated on May 9, 2012
Communist era grocery store in Poland.
Communist era grocery store in Poland. | Source

Many people in the former Soviet Bloc have nostalgia for consumer goods made before the 1989 fall of the system. Many of these retro products are still around. Below I take a look at some of the most popular products, then and now.

Csepel Bicycles (Hungary)

This bicycle brand is still extremely popular today and can be bought at virtually all larger supermarkets as well as bicycle and sports shops. The company is now owned by Schwinn. The most popular type of Csepel was the "Camping" model. This is a smaller bike and can still be seen in rural Hungary and in villages usually ridden by elderly men and women and younger gypsies. These bicycles are a common sight just outside of the local watering hole, even though it is illegal to ride a bike after having had alcohol in Hungary.

Old style Csepel Camping bike.
Old style Csepel Camping bike. | Source
A contemporary Csepel Cruiser
A contemporary Csepel Cruiser | Source

Tisza Shoes (Hungary)

These shoes were a communist era answer to Adidas, as witnessed by a very close resemblance in their design. Western brands were virtually impossible to come by in the Soviet Bloc, which allowed for the establishment of spin-off local brands. Although these brands were seen as poor cousins to their western relatives during communist times, some are now seen as being much more unique and as a fashion statement against the dumping of Nike, Adidas, Fila etc. on the market.

Old Tisza shoe display
Old Tisza shoe display | Source

The new versions are Tisza shoes are almost the exact same as those of the 1970s and 1980s. The only discernible difference is is in better quality materials and a wider range of colors.

These shoes are hugely popular amongst young Hungarians and give people a sense of pride that they have their own brand of shoe that is every bit as good as western brands that were so sought after during communism.

Besides shoes, Tisza also manufactures accessories (belts and bags), limited edition shoes, and sweat suits.

New generation Tisza sports shoe
New generation Tisza sports shoe | Source

Old Tisza Shoe TV Spot

Skoda 120 LSE (1982
Skoda 120 LSE (1982 | Source
Skoda Superb
Skoda Superb | Source

Skoda and Dacia cars (Former Czechoslovakia and Romania)

Although Skoda's history goes back to before communist times, it was during the 1960s and 1970s that it really came into its own as a people's car. People waited for years in order to get any car, but Skoda's were always known to be of a higher quality than the Dacia for example. Today, Skoda is owned by Volkswagen Group and Dacia by the Renault Group. In fact, the first Dacia's were exact copies of a Renault 12 model whose blueprints were used under license to start Romania's auto industry.

Today Skoda's are very popular throughout Europe. The Skoda Superb has even managed to corner a part of the diplomatic sales market with this luxury model.

The Dacia Logan has also managed to become popular in the former Soviet Bloc area, where the car is now up to western standards and features.

Dacia 1300 (1969)
Dacia 1300 (1969) | Source
New Dacia Logan
New Dacia Logan | Source
Vegeta seasoning
Vegeta seasoning | Source

Vegeta Food Seasoning and Szerencsi Chocolate

Vegeta was manufactured in the former Yugoslavia and now in Croatia. This food seasoning has even made it over to the United States. many people still use Vegeta to add flavor to soups, chicken and other dishes.

Szerencsi Chocolate is still enjoyed by many Hungarians. Many people still remember the tastes from their childhood and feel a sense of nostalgia when eating this chocolate that they just don't experience eating a Snickers or Mars bar.

Actually, remember their childhoods is what drives many people back to old favorites after the novelty of western consumer goods had worn off.

Szerencsi chocolate
Szerencsi chocolate | Source

In Closing

There are many consumer goods that could be listed here. East Germans are known to be very fond of old products and packaging. When the Berlin Wall fell the East was inundated with the giants of West German consumer goods, virtually wiping away anything from the pre-1989 era. Here too however, once the novelty of these good passed, people felt the need to regain some form of their uniqueness. 40 plus years of communist rule and habits cannot be forgotten from one day to the next. It is well known that there are still tensions between those Germans who grew up in the West and those in the East. It's like long lost brothers moving in together again after having established their own routines, tastes, like and dislikes for almost half a century.

No one likes to be flooded with strange new things on a constant basis, especially the older generation. This nostalgia from goods that were something to be ashamed of during communist times is just another way of keeping ones identity.

If you are from a former Eastern Bloc country please share what products you miss and/or still use from communist times!


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