Profiles | Thomas Gratzer

Executive Director, Production & Technology for
Manner Schnitten

“Vertical production is an essential component of urban production. Our factory will always remain in Vienna.”

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Manner Schnitten, the omnipresent and ever-popular Viennese hazelnut cream-filled wafer cookies, have been made according to the same recipe for more than a century. They are still made exclusively at the original location of the Manner factory in Vienna’s 17th district. Manner is still a traditional, family-owned company.

Yet, shortly after Thomas Gratzer, 51, took over as head of production in 2014, he had to face many changes, including one that literally shook the foundations of one of Vienna’s most beloved institutions.

Four months into his new position, the façade of the original factory building collapsed during renovations. The factory has since been rebuilt on the same premises, as it was quickly decided that production had to remain, as ever, in Vienna, represented on the classic pink packages by an image of the Stephansdom.

Josef Manner, creator and founder, had always felt that the original Manner shop benefited from its proximity to the neighboring cathedral. He would also have agreed with the observation of his grandson, Carl Manner, who remained with the company until his death last year.

“Dr. Manner – God bless his soul – said the Stephansdom protected us from the collapse, as no one was injured,” Gratzer said, recalling his former mentor fondly.

A modern pink office building now houses the innovative new factory, which is based on the principle of vertical production. Each phase of production – cream, waffles, packaging, etc. – is based on a separate floor. The result is an output of one million packages per day, which are distributed to 50 countries worldwide.

“We’re kind of set up the same way a Manner Schnitte is!” Gratzer laughed, handing us a freshly stacked cookie.

We savored the light, crispy waffles layered with warm hazelnut chocolate filling, Josef Manner’s solution to offering, at the time, expensive chocolate to the masses – combining it with more affordable components.

Manner, which also produces brands such as Casali, Napoli and Ildefonso, is one of the last big confectionary companies in Austria that still produces its own chocolate from scratch.

We could taste the difference.

Janima Nam
Janima Nam is a freelance journalist, translator, and editor living in Vienna. She has a BFA in film from New York University and a Masters degree (MA) from the London Consortium in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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