Our history image

Our History

Our baked goods stand for enjoyment and love of life. For gener­a­tions – more than 125 years now – the sweet pleasure of biscuits has been asso­ci­ated with the Bahlsen name. The unmis­tak­able taste, the consis­tently high quality and trust in the product have made Bahlsen what it is today: a successful and modern family company. The company owes this strong position to a history going back more than 125 years.

1889 - Company’s foundation

The company was founded on 1 July as Hermann Bahlsen (1859–1919) takes over the “Fabrikgeschäft engl. Cakes und Biscuits” company on Friesen­strasse in Hannover from H. Schmuckler and renames it “Hannover­sche Cakesfabrik H. Bahlsen”.

1891 - Birth of the LEIBNIZ Cakes

Hermann Bahlsen intro­duces the LEIBNIZ Cakes onto the market. As it is common practice to name food products after public figures, Hermann Bahlsen names his cakes after Hanover’s well known inhab­i­tant: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716).

1893 - Gold medal at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The company employs 100 staff members. At the world exhi­bi­tion in Chicago, Bahlsen receives the gold medal for the “LEIBNIZ Cakes”. The official reason stated by the jury: “Several competi­tors imitate the LEIBNIZ Cakes in one or another way; but only Bahlsen captures the fine taste of butter.”

1896 - Lower Saxony-Horse becomes Official Logo

The prancing Lower Saxony-Horse is regis­tered as the company trade mark. A distri­b­u­tion warehouse follows the new office in Berlin in 1898. By 1914 there are inno­v­a­tive sample stores in every major German city.

1898 - Luminous Advertising for LEIBNIZ Cakes

Germany’s second neon sign adver­tise­ment proclaims LEIBNIZ Cakes above Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

1900 - Next gold medal

Bahlsen is again awarded a gold medal at the Expo­si­tion Universelle in Paris for its “specialities”.

1904 - Introducing the TET-Packaging

The new dust and moisture-resistant TET packaging is intro­duced onto the market. The TET sign, featuring an oval with a snake and three dots deriving from an ancient Egypt hiero­glyphic meaning ‘ever­lasting’, is orig­i­nally pronounced as “dschet”, but simpli­fied to “TET”. The TET-packaging is the first packaging made of paper-board with the ability to keep the biscuit endur­ingly fresh.

1905 - First Assembly Line in Europe

Besides the first punch card, Bahlsen intro­duces Europe's first assembly line, eight years before Henry Ford adopts it in the auto­mo­tive industry.

1906 - New products

The products "NOCH EINE" ice waffle and "ABC" are intro­duced onto the market, helping the company on its upward surge.

1911 - Year of Change

Hermann Bahlsen changes the English word "cakes" into "Keks". Some years later, the new term is offi­cially approved and incor­po­rated in the German Duden [dictio­nary]. The company moves into the new factory building in Lister Straße and the new head­quar­ters in Podbiel­skistraße. Pictures, sculp­tures, and ornaments create a pleasant working envi­ron­ment. Several social insti­tu­tions arise.

1912 - From Cakesfabrik to Keksfabrik

The company is renamed “H. BAHLSENs Keks­fabrik”. Twelve million “TET packages” are sold. The in-house employee newspaper “LEIBNIZ BUTTERBLÄTTER” is published for the first time.

1917 - Model of the TET-City

The model for a large factory including resi­dences in Hannover, the so-called “TET City”, is presented. The further course of the war prohibits the imple­men­ta­tion of the plans made by Bernhard Hoetger.

1918 - Shortage of Raw Materials by the End of the War

By the end of the war the lack of raw materials almost completely disrupts produc­tion. Only one of the 25 ovens is operational.

1919 - Sorrow and Emulation

Hermann Bahlsen dies on 6 November 1919. He is succeeded by three of his four sons; 1919 Hans Bahlsen (1901–1959), 1922 Werner Bahlsen (1904–1985) and 1930 Klaus Bahlsen (1908–1991). Together with a young manage­ment team, the second Bahlsen gener­a­tion starts restruc­turing and modernising the company after the economic decline that had resulted from inflation and the Great Depression.

1933 - Introduction of the "Express-Tin"

The “Express-Tin” is a best­seller for more than a quarter-century. Four million units of the tin (one pound of biscuits for one Reich Mark) are sold within a year. Bahlsen now employs 1,400 people; 450 office staff and 950 indus­trial workers.

1939 - Outbreak of World War II

The Second World War breaks out two months after Bahlsen cele­brates its 50th anniver­sary. Food products are rationed and raw materials are short. Biscuits are only sold against bread stamps. Many employees are conscripted into the German army. The technical office must discon­tinue its research and devel­op­ment work. The assort­ment of products is reduced to eleven products while emergency rations for the army and crisp bread are added.

1945 - Reconstruction after the War

By the end of the war nearly 60% of the factory and almost all distri­b­u­tion ware­houses are destroyed. On April 24th, the allies grant a permit to restart work.

1950 - High Quality Standards

In order to ensure high quality standards, Bahlsen estab­lishes its own physical and chemical labo­ra­to­ries. Further­more, Bahlsen is one of the first German companies to be issued an export licence. The first foreign shipment goes to Switzerland.

1952 - Export to the USA

Under the direction of Werner Bahlsen the company starts exporting products to the USA.

1956 - First “stiff thermoplastic package”

Hermann Bahlsen (1927–2014), the son of Hans Bahlsen, joins the company, opening up the era of the third gener­a­tion. At the same time Bahlsen intro­duces the first air-tight and water­proof package, the so-called “stiff ther­mo­plastic package” – a welded aluminium foil – onto the market, setting new standards regarding freshness and extended shelf-life. By now Bahlsen is exporting to 74 countries.

1959 - Opening of plant in Barsinghausen

The Barsing­hausen plant, the Europe’s most modern produc­tion site, is inaugurated.

1960 - Bahlsen becomes International

Foun­da­tion of the first Bahlsen sales companies in France and Italy. Austria and other countries follow.

1963 - Opening of plant in Varel

Produc­tions begins at the Varel plant in Friesland.

1964 - Beginning of the Snack Business

Bahlsen intro­duces Peanut Flips onto the German market and expands its snack assort­ment in a coop­er­a­tion with the Flessner Company in Neu-Isenburg.

1966 - Bahlsen bakes Cakes

Bahlsen enters the cake business by taking over the Brokat Bakery in Oldenburg. By now Bahlsen employs 7,000 staff members in total.

1967 - Opening of plant in Berlin

The Berlin produc­tion plant goes into operation. Bahlsen of North America is founded as well as the affil­i­ated companies in Luxem­bourg and the Netherlands.

1969 - Foundation of "Bahlsen Belgium"

With four employees, the distri­b­u­tion company in Belgium is founded. Initially, the company focusses on Brussels as the main area of distri­b­u­tion. Later on the distri­b­u­tion expands with country wide delivery.

1972 - Further Company Foundations

Bahlsen Spain and Bahlsen UK are founded.

1974 - New administration centre

The new admin­is­tra­tive centre in Hannover is opened at the site where TET City was orig­i­nally supposed to be built.

1975 - The Third Generation: Werner M. Bahlsen joins the company

Werner M. Bahlsen, Werner Bahlsen’s youngest son, joins the company. His brother Lorenz Bahlsen already joined in 1973.

1980 - Production in the USA

Produc­tion in the United States begins with the acqui­si­tion of Austin Quality Foods in North Carolina. Bahlsen employs approx­i­mately 11,200 members of staff.

1987 - Outsourcing of the Production

Due to shortage of space, produc­tion in the head­quar­ters in Hannover, the oldest factory of the company, is outsourced to plant in Barsinghausen.

1989 - 100 years of Bahlsen

Bahlsen cele­brates its 100th Birthday.

1992 - New Distribution Warehouse

The new distri­b­u­tion warehouse in Langen­hagen, near Hanover, comes into service. More than 100 employees ensue smooth-running logistics. Further­more, Bahlsen acquires the Polish company “Unimarex”. At a later date, the company is renamed to “Poznan”.

1993 - Bahlsen expands to Poland

Bahlsen acquires the Skawina food company in Poland with its approx­i­mately 1,100 employees.

1994 - Acquisition of a Traditional Company

Acqui­si­tion of St. Michel (France) - a biscuit producing family enter­prise with more than 90 years standing. St. Michel continues to be the national brand for Breton biscuits and cakes.

1995 - New Name and Acquisition

The “H. Bahlsens Keks­fabrik KG” changes its name to “Bahlsen KG”. Acqui­si­tion of shares from the Brandt Company as well as from the Gottena subsidiary.

1996 - Redirection of the Company

Hermann Bahlsen leaves the company and takes over all shares of the former subsidiary “Austin Quality Foods“, Cary /North Carolina.

1999 - Introducing PiCK UP!

Bahlsen launches PiCK UP! in Germany, Austria and France, success­fully entering the snack bar market.

The Origin of Three New Incorporations

The company is split off into the “sweet” (Bahlsen) and “snack” (Lorenz) segments and the Von Nordeck Group.

Bahlsen faces up to its moral responsibility

Bahlsen joins the “Foun­da­tion Initia­tive for the Compen­sa­tion of Former Enforced Labourers during the Second World War”.

2000 - Old Head-Office as New Headquarters

The original head­quar­ters in Podbiel­skistraße 11 once again becomes the new head­quar­ters. Extensive recon­struc­tion turns the tradi­tional building - that is under a preser­va­tion order - into a modern office building.

2002 - New Brand Strategy

Bahlsen intro­duces its new brand strategy: Two umbrella brands – BAHLSEN and LEIBNIZ – now represent the company throughout the world.

2005 - Cakes from Varel

Bahlsen relocates cake produc­tion from its factory in Oldenburg to the nearby produc­tion plant in Varel. The newly inte­grated produc­tion facility for cakes enables inno­va­tion in technology.

2011 - Plant in Barsinghausen wins “Factory of the Year” prize

After wide-ranging moderni­sa­tion work, the Barsing­hausen plant is awarded the “Factory of the Year” prize. The “Factory of the Year” is an annual bench­marking event known as the toughest bench­marking test for manu­fac­turing companies throughout Europe.

Office Opening in Dubai and Shanghai

Bahlsen increases its commit­ment abroad, opening up new sales markets in the Middle and Far East. Offices are opened in Dubai and a year later in Shanghai.

2013 - Robbery of the Golden Biscuit

Unknown thieves steal the Golden Biscuit from the Pretzel Men sculpture on the façade of the company's head­quar­ters in Hannover, attracting the attention of news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion stations around the world.

2014 - Celebrating of the company’s 125th birthday

On 1 July 2014 Bahlsen becomes 125 years old. In October 2014, the anniver­sary is cele­brated offi­cially. For the first time in the history of the company, all 2,500 employees from around the world are invited to Hannover.

2016 - 125 years of LEIBNIZ butter biscuits

LEIBNIZ butter biscuits cele­brates its 125th anniver­sary – one of the world’s oldest branded products.

2016 - Investment in Rawbite

The inter­na­tional Bahlsen Group has acquired a majority of Rawbite ApS, the Danish organic food brand and producer of organic fruit and nut bars.

2017 - Launch of Launch HERMANN'S

HERMANN'S is an inter­na­tional network for food inno­va­tion that brings together consumers, pioneers and industry to tackle the major chal­lenges of the food system. As a subsidiary of the Bahlsen Group, the founders Verena Bahlsen, Laura Jaspers and Stefan Telegdy want to discover new poten­tials all over the world that will help to establish a healthier and more sustain­able food system. HERMANN'S offers everyone the oppor­tu­nity to use the online platform hermanns.com and to develop and present new ideas, wishes or products in the restau­rant and event space HERMANN'S Berlin to find suitable partners for new projects or just to eat comfortably.