Even the color is iconic: “Pantone rose” is a registered trademark for Austria’s signature snack – Manner Schnitten, the pink block of hazelnut cream wafers on the country’s candy shelves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legendary power food.
Carl Manner, nephew of the founder and patriarch of the family company, who died April 19, 2017 at age 87, must have been a delightful person. As Der Standard reported, he was an educated “gentleman of the old school,” so passionate about opera that his uncle was afraid he was lost for the business. But he was modest, and accepted that his musical talents were “not enough for a career.”
Instead he devoted his life to the wafers that still roll out of their factory in the 17th district. That a small company in a small country can hold its own in a market dominated by global gorillas Mars, Nestlé and Kraft is indeed an achievement to be proud of. Described as the “original Neopolitaner” (the generic for cream-filled wafers), Manner Schnitten are second only to Sachertorte as the personification of the Austrian genius for irresistible sweets.
Manner understood that small companies need to be nimble, with modern marketing tools. In a charmingly crass product placement, Schwarzenegger marches into a 7-Eleven in Terminator III, grabs a handful of Manner Schnitten on the shelf and stalks out without paying. Perhaps it is not disrespectful to suggest that the company’s long-time advertising slogan is also a fitting epitaph for Carl Manner:
“Manner mag man eben.” (You just can’t help liking Manner.)