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50. ISM: Exhibitors tell us their storys – Part 3

28 Aug 2020

Tales about the world's largest trade fair for sweets and snacks from bygone days

In Cologne stories are known as „Verzällcher" and those who have been exhibiting at ISM Cologne for 50 years have experienced a lot and have plenty to tell. So, we asked exhibitors from the early days – of whom there are indeed 29 – about anecdotes from the past five decades at the leading trade fair for sweets and snacks worldwide.

The Rhine that flows directly next to the exhibition halls not only leaves tourists with impressive and long-lasting memories, but also the exhibitors, as Inge-Maren Risop, Marketing Director, Hanseatisches Chocoladen Kontor, related: „Some of our employees still remember the stir when the Rhine overflowed its banks and ISM was almost flooded."

Dr. Karel Koster, Executive Director, Stereo Holland Gebaeck, described a similar situation even more dramatically: „In the 90s, we were almost up to our necks in water twice during ISM!!! Our exhibition stand at the time was located in the old exhibition halls right next to the Rhine on the ground floor - and there was flooding. The water swashed almost up to the entrance area of the hall twice and the trade fair had to be called off. That evening, we didn't know if our stand would be flooded the next day or not. That was a nail-biting situation – but we were lucky everything turned out ok. The flooding of the Rhine subsided overnight."

Stereo Holland Gebaeck with generous stand in the 70s at ISM

Stereo Holland Gebaeck with generous stand in the 70s at ISM.

ISM as a family meeting point of the sweets and snacks industry

The almost family-like atmosphere in the early days of the trade fair - which was of course possible due to the manageable amount of participants – is often mentioned. Claus Cersovsky, Executive Shareholder of Rübezahl and the Rübezahl-Riegelein Group, recounted a good example of this solidarity. He was only six years old when the first ISM took place, but his father and grand-father told him that in the 1970s ISM was like an annual family get-together. „In the past not everyone spoke fluent English and an acquainted sweets manufacturer had an international customer at his stand, but wasn't able to converse with him. So they asked my mother whether she could come over the stand and translate for them, because they knew she spoke perfect English. And of course one helped each other out. I am not sure if the dialogue ultimately led to an order or not."

Thomas Ullrich, Executive Director Kuefa Werk remembered at the Kojak lolly

On the other hand, there are also amusing anecdotes that the companies fondly remember. Thomas Ullrich, Executive Director Kuefa Werk, recalls such an occurrence: "My father enjoys talking about a trade fair in the 1970s at which we had presented the then popular „Kojak lolly", bearing a photo of the famous Lieutenant Kojak from the TV series of the same name, that was played by Telly Savalas. We had a Kojak double from our region at the stand, which really caused a stir. Unfortunately, our lookalike didn't speak good English, so he was asked not to talk too much. However, that certainly didn't stop him from diligently signing autographs or flirting with the female trade fair visitors. He had the time of his life there."

Kuefa Werk advertises its lollies in 1977 with the well-known TV character Kojak at ISM

Kuefa Werk advertises its lollies in 1977 with the well-known TV character Kojak at ISM.

Dr. Markus Schinle, Chr. Storz GmbH & Co. KG, owner and great-grandson of the company founders recalls an amusing occurrence that he hasn't forgotten

Dr. Markus Schinle, Chr. Storz GmbH & Co. KG, owner and great-grandson of the company founders recalls an in the meantime amusing occurrence that he hasn't forgotten until this very day. „It must have been around 1985 when at the start of the show on the Sunday, the unforgettable arko buyer Mr Sieck visited us. He was an extremely popular, experienced, competent, but also emphatic specialised buyer, with whom we maintained long-standing business relations. Contemporary cantilever chairs decorated our stand and we were proud of the new furniture. However, at the beginning of the show Mr Sieck, who was well-built, sat down on our elegant furniture heavily, exhausted after his long journey. The furniture manufacturer obviously only seemed to have roughly calculated the maximum load. With the result that the elegant square turned into an exact triangle, which suddenly had an extremely negative effect on the stability of our dear customer' sitting position. Mr Sieck hit the back of his head on the edge of the next table and it caused plenty of commotion in the exhibition hall. After receiving emergency treatment, Mr Sieck was able to continue his visit the next day. In line with his own sense of humour, he called over to us. „From now on just call me Mr. Fall Guy."