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10 Austrian Ideas

Updated on February 5, 2013

Did you have any idea that Pez dispensers were Austrian ideas?

We can also thank Austria for Arnold Schwarzenegger's morals, deaths related to drinking Red Bull, and Volkswagens created with forced labor. But they did have a few more good ideas too, like the Porsche and Swarovski crystals.

For those of you who are bad at geography, Austria lies between Italy and Germany, and its most populous cities are Vienna and Salzburg. However, the state's entire population is only roughly equivalent to that of New York City. Read on to learn more about things that Austrians came up with!

Gustav Klimt, Litzlberg am Attersee
Gustav Klimt, Litzlberg am Attersee

1. Swarovski Crystals

These fashionable cut-crystal jewels have become popular in the United States through ad campaigns in high end fashion magazines. Daniel Swarovski patented them in 1895 along with his unique crystal cutting machine. Now his company produces jewelry, sculpture, and chandeliers using the crystals. Swarovski necklaces and earrings are often spotted on the red carpet at major United States award shows, by the likes of Lady Gaga, Jessica Alba, Beyoncé and others. The fallen chandelier from the film version of “The Phantom of the Opera” was manufactured by Swarovski.

2. Red Bull

Popular in America as an energy drink, Red Bull was created by Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz. The drink is a modified version of a drink that's popular in Thailand, Drating Daeng. Its animated commercials and slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” are well known in the US. Red Bull also gained notoriety in the nightlife scene where its often mixed with vodka. U.S. T.V. specials questioned the health risks of combining energy drinks with alcohol, but it’s still sold in stores and clubs in the U.S. However it's been banned completely by Norway, Uruguay, and Denmark.

Titian, Venus with a Mirror
Titian, Venus with a Mirror

3. Venus in Furs

Venus in Furs is a novel written by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Sacher-Masoch may be described as a sort of counterpart of the Marquis de Sade because the term ‘masochism’ was derived from Sacher-Masoch and his writings often dealt with submissive relationships. Venus if Furs is based on Sacher-Masoch’s own life and depicts his fetish for dominant woman wearing furs. Despite his strange fetishes, throughout his life Leopold worked against anti-Semitism and for the emancipation of women. Those not familiar with the book you may be familiar with The Velvet Underground’s debut album, who adopted the title of the novel.

4. "The Kiss"

"The Kiss" is Austrian painter Gustav Klimt's best-known painting. Klimt was part of the Symbolist movement, along with writers and artists such as Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Moreau, Edvard Munch, and John William Waterhouse. His style went beyond realism to include the representation of mysticism, imagination, and dreams. While some of Klimt's work was destroyed by SS soldiers during WWII, "The Kiss" lives on in cheap reproductions tacked to dorm room walls across the country

5. The Porsche and the Volkswagen

Automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche not only created the first Porsche, but also designed the Volkswagen Beetle and a version of the Mercedes Benz. He also contributed his ingenuity to German tank designs, aircraft, and bombs, earning him a decoration from Nazi Germany. Hitler himself even laid the foundation stone for the first Volkswagen factory. Like other companies such as Hugo Boss which manufactured Nazi uniforms, during WWII Ferdinand’s Volkswagen factory relied mostly on forced labor by prisoners of war.

6. Pez Dispensers

This popular candy and dispenser was invented in 1927 by Austrian candy maker Eduard Haas III. The word ‘pez’ is a shortening of the German word for peppermint, ‘pfefferminz.’ During the 1950s Haas began marketing them in the U.S., using Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse versions to target children. In Austria, Germany, and Switzerland Pez were even sold through custom vending machines that kind of resemble the tampon dispensers seen in U.S. restrooms.

7. Game Theory

Game theory was created by Austrian economist Oskar Morgenstern alongside the Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann. In 1944 they published their theories in Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. Game theory is the study of decision making and is popular in economics and politics. It can even be applied to poker. The movie “A Beautiful Mind” depicts a later game theorist, John Nash, played by Russell Crow.

8. Apfelstrudel

More importantly, the Austrians also came up with apfelstrudel, a pastry filled with apples, sugar, and cinnamon. It first appeared in cookbooks at the end of the 17th century and became popular during the 18th century. It's common to see it at Viennese cafes. You can drink tea or coffee with it, or, if you happen to be an alcoholic, champagne.

9. The Viennese Coffee House

Speaking of Viennese cafes, the Viennese coffee house is another distinctly Austrian thing. It originally served as a place for people to exchange the news, and was most popular at the turn of the 19th century, before the invention of television led many people to stay home and watch the news from the comfort of their bunny slippers. However, tourism has made them popular once again. Now they just need to make up some ghost stories to go with them.

10. Metropolis

This epic black and white sci-fi masterpiece was directed by Austrian filmmaker Fritz Lang, who is sometimes referred to as the "Master of Darkness." Lang's ideas were influenced by Nietzsche and Freud, and Metropolis is a dystopia. The movie was the most expensive ever made at the time, like Titanic was in the 90s, and featured groundbreaking special effects.


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    • profile image

      Brad 2 years ago

      Oh my! That all looks too good, much better than most of the teas I have been to. I have had a crniavg for egg salad. Maybe that is on the list next time JOhn is out of town (he hates egg salad). Rosa looks quite the part of a proper tea companion. I would have swiped the tartare too. Good job Rosa.

    • profile image

      Will 2 years ago

      Hey, you're the goto exretp. Thanks for hanging out here.

    • jennaivy profile image

      Jenna Ivy 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 4 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Fascinating. You truly have a way of blending interesting details into a very readable and flowing style.