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A friend insists that the "chocolate" is the German part of German chocolate cake, the evidence being that there are no palm trees in Germany (for the coconut frosting). Is this correct?

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Cocoa trees don't grow in Germany either. –  Mike Baranczak Apr 21 '11 at 18:21
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4 Answers 4

up vote 27 down vote accepted

A Baker's (now owned by kraft foods) employee named Sam German developed a chocolate recipe that was sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate, as well as containing a blend of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, flavorings, and lecithin. Baker's honored Sam by naming the chocolate that he created Baker's German's Chocolate.

In 1957 the recipe was published in a Dallas newspaper, although nobody is sure exactly when the recipe was originally created. Generally Foods - who had bought the brand - noticed that alot of people liked the recipe and started a PR campaign for German's Chocolate using the recipe. They started sending it to newspapers all over - and people liked it. At some point the "'s" got dropped from the name, introducing all of the confusion we have about the origin of the cake today.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_chocolate_cake
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Baker_%26_Company http://www.joyofbaking.com/GermanChocolate.html

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I believe the "German" refers to the last name of the inventor of a type of sweetened chocolate. This chocolate developed by Baker's was first used in the original recipe of "German's Chocolate Cake".

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Could you add a reference to back this up? –  David Fullerton Apr 21 '11 at 17:54
    
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The argument is bogus.

  1. There has been imported coconut in Germany for a very long time. (Probably since before Willhelm I established the second reich).
  2. But there is still a giveaway that the recipe is not from Germany. It's the pecans which you won't find in any German recipe.
  3. There are palms in Germany. (Yes, outside. No, no commercial plantages).
  4. Wikipedia says the cake wasn't named for Germany, but for the American guy who invented it.

I am not a native speaker of English, but in the configuration adjective - adjective/noun - noun, I'd say that it is more natural for the first two words to define the third. So it wasn't even Mr German's chocolate, it was his cake.

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Actually most native speakers of English can't pick out that specific configuration so you seem to have the upper hand. (I presume you're from Germany from your quoting of the country and its flora ~ the German language is much more expressive than ours in matters like this ~ ergo Congratulations my good sir ;) ) –  jcolebrand Apr 22 '11 at 0:49
    
@drachenstern Thanks for the congratulations on my good English. You probably missed the fact that when you commented, my answer stated that Wilhelm I "grounded" the second reich :) –  rumtscho Apr 22 '11 at 17:46
    
I'm sure I did, I was focusing on the identification of the configuration adjective - adjective/noun - noun though, so I suppose it's alright ;) –  jcolebrand Apr 22 '11 at 20:33
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If I remember correctly, according to The Joy of Cooking, it was an insurance salesman named German who popularized the addition of coconut to chocolate cake.

So, German's recipe for chocolate cake, ergo German's chocolate cake aka German chocolate cake.

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