Ready meal classics: How canned ravioli started a small revolution


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How canned ravioli started a small revolution

On May 14, 1958, the first can of ravioli rolled off the assembly line in Germany. The background was the economic miracle and the Germans’ desire to travel. Generations have grown up with the dish since then.

Tinned ravioli turns 65

Ready to eat in a few minutes: canned ravioli

Source: dpa/Bernd Weißbrod

Ver Father’s Prayer it takes to cook ravioli perfectly. At least that’s what the forefather of European culinary arts, Maestro Martino (before 1430 – after 1470), recommends. The small square dumplings were elaborately filled and prepared in the 15th century. At that time, the Ticino, who cooked for the greats of his time in Rome, had no idea that there was an easier way.

Canned ravioli, in tomato sauce and ready to eat. This was the rather unromantic response of the industry to the increasing demand from Germans for Italian dishes in the 1950s.

One reason for the success story of the canned ravioli was the economic miracle and the Germans’ desire to travel. With the beginning of tourism to Italy Italian food has also become increasingly popular with families. However, the target group has changed over the years. Today, the cult product can be found primarily on campsites, festivals and in single households.

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On May 14, 1958, the first tin of ravioli rolled off the production line at the Maggi factory in Singen on Lake Constance – triggering a small revolution in the kitchen.

“Until then, it was mainly the housewives who stood in front of the stove and cooked all the dishes themselves,” says nutritionist Eva-Maria Endres. Not only canned ravioli, but also finished products as a whole would have helped women to free themselves from this role model. “Cooking was also an argument why women couldn’t do paid work because a warm meal had to be put on the table every evening.”

“With the ready meal it was possible to go to work during the day”

According to the food culture expert, ready meals were a great relief. They were particularly popular in the 1980s and 90s. “With the ready-made meal, it was possible to go to work during the day and put a warm meal on the table for the family in the evening.” Canned goods were among the first ready-made meals because they could be kept without a refrigerator.

Maggi’s finished canned ravioli have always come from the Maggi factory on Lake Constance. The food producer now belongs to the Nestlé Group. According to a spokeswoman, 170,000 cans roll off the production line there every day of production. “The factory team makes the pasta itself.”

The market leader’s cult product from the can is now available in seven variants. The small dumplings are filled with a mixture of pork and beef. There is a vegetable filling for vegetarians. Maggi produced around 36 million cans of ravioli last year. According to Nestlé, demand was particularly high in the Corona year 2020.

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Maggi was the first supplier of canned ravioli in Germany – there are now various other producers as well. The ravioli in tomato sauce was also Maggi’s first ready meal. The brand has been active in Singen since 1887.

Company founder Julius Maggi founded the site himself and expanded it into a large factory. There is also a small museum on the factory premises. Today the largest Maggi factory in Germany is in Singen and employs a team of around 550 people. The number of employees has increased over the decades, as has the hunger for canned ravioli.

According to the Federal Association of the German Food Industry, the demand for finished products is constantly increasing. The ongoing trend can also be explained by socio-demographic trends such as the increasing number of smaller households and a higher employment rate. According to forecasts by the Federal Statistical Office, the trend towards households with up to two people will continue to play a role in the future.

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Even food scandals do not break the trend, according to consumer researchers. Ten years ago, a major scandal made headlines in which traders across Europe sold horsemeat as beef on a large scale. This ended up mainly in finished products. According to a GfK study from 2014, the reluctance of consumers only lasted for a short time.

According to the manufacturers, you don’t need four Our Fathers in Latin to cook the canned ravioli perfectly. A saucepan or microwave-safe serving dish will do.

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