Ampelmanchen started as the walk/don’t walk men at cross walks, and have turned into the pop-culture phenomenon from East Germany.
The over simplified version: after the Wall fell the general attitude was life in the West was better, and so all things from the East (Communism) had to go. After awhile, the East Germans put their foot down, after all, there really isn’t a need to change the little stop/go ped-xing signs (and they’re really cute).
Instead of getting rid of them, some Capitalists capitalized on the idea and now the Ampelmanchen of the former Communist East now have massive stores in Berlin, are on t-shirts, postcards, bags, purses, cookie cutters and have been further stylized into women, and animals.
The Ampelmanchen of East Berlin have also remained at intersections where there are pedestrian crossings.
A few years ago when I visited Berlin on my first Austria/Germany Abroad (‘02) I picked up some Ampelmanchen cookie cutters. Every now and then, I feel inspired to take them out and use them. I’m still looking for a good sugar cookie recipe to use when I make them.
I went to Martha Stewart’s website and she has about 20 kinds of sugar cookies. I picked one that looked somewhat promising. The first batch turned out crispy, 1/8 inch was a little too thin, the following batches were a little thicker and turned out well.
After they had sufficiently cooled I iced them with a mix of 1 table spoon OJ and 1/2 cup powdered sugar with fun food colors. It takes some practice to get the consistency right, and sometimes I have to add a little more powdered sugar and whisk more.
The Gavin Rating: Really Good