What is marzipan?

This sweet made mostly of almonds and powdered sugar is manufactured already since the Middle Ages. The old Hanseatic cities Reval (now Tallinn) and Lübeck are both still fully convinced that the right of discovery of marzipan belongs to their city. Most probably nobody remembers the absolute truth about the origin of this sweet, which does not decrease the value of marzipan in the eyes of sweettooths. Marzipan, which was initially known as medicine and now as sweet is still manufactured in Tallinn as it was done hundred years ago.

Among other substances with more and a little fewer healing powers, marzipan was initially made in Estonia in pharmacies. To be more exact – in the oldest constantly operating pharmacy in Europe – Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy, which was first mentioned in written sources already in 1422. According to a legend, which is well-known in Estonia, marzipan was invented by one of the apprentices of this pharmacy. This legend was made even more popular by the book of the Estonian novelist Jaan Kross Mardileib (Mart’s Bread).

During the times of the guilds of the Hanseatic period, marzipan was made by sugar bakers, who since the 18th century are known as confectioners. One of them, Lorenz Cavietzel, a confectioner of the III Guild, who was of Swiss origin recorded his name in the history by buying the building, which today is the very popular Maiasmokk cafe on Pikk street of the old town of Tallinn at the beginning of the 19th century and started making marzipan, among other things.

Georg Stude’s marzipan and chocolate industry, which was established in the same location during the second half of the 19th century, gained even more popularity. The exclusive marzipan products made there were well-known also in the court of the Russian czar in St. Petersburg.

The very same marzipan moulds and handicraft methods from the Stude business of the 19th century are still used for making marzipan figurines in the Maiasmokk cafe of today, which is located in the historical location of the Stude business. The figurines are moulded by hand and later painted by brush and food colours. This adds a piece of the soul of the artist to each figurine and thereby makes it unique.

The fine art of marzipan painting can be seen at the Maiasmokk cafe as well as Kalev chocolate shop in the Rotermanni historical industrial quarter.