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Glarner Schabziger

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

First branded article in Switzerland

The beginning of the Glarner Schabziger lies in the distant past and Ziger was for centuries a rather bland affair. The legend has always told us that the grey mass was at some point too boring even for the pious nuns of the Säckingen monastery. The Glarus had to pay taxes to the monastery. The nuns would then have spiced up the pale Ziger with the green Ziger herb (Trigonella melilotus caerulea) in terms of colour and above all in terms of taste. Wrong, says the historian Beat Frei, co-editor of the book "550 Years Schabziger - History and Recipes". There is not a single indication that the southern German monastery of Säckingen was involved in the production of Schabziger. Schabziger is much more of a purely Glarnese invention.

Frei did not primarily find what he was looking for in Glarus, but mainly in Zurich. Zurich was the main customer for Glarus in old times. The first regulations and prices were recorded there in 1429. A “stone” Glarner Ziger - about four pounds - cost 16 Pfenning. At that time, Ziger was the number one export hit of Glarus. Farmers, traders and skippers earned money from it, and they did not want to be ruined by botchers in their own country or even by foreign suppliers on the other side of the Glarus border. In 1463, the Glarner Landsgemeinde therefore approved the decree under the title "Von Ziger ze machen". Precise regulations regulated the production and each producer had to affix his own mark on the Ziger loaf. The Glarner Schabziger brand was born. As early as 1463, the modern requirement of traceability, which was not anchored in the Swiss Food Law until 1992, applied to the Glarner Ziger. People in Glarus wanted to know early on who was involved in this production.

Later, the cultivation of the green Ziger herb (Trigonella melilotus caerulea) was also regulated: At the beginning of the 17th century it was discovered that numerous people sold Ziger herbs outside the country. In order not to suffer shortages themselves, this sale was prohibited from time to time. There were also food counterfeiters even then. They mixed other herbs into the Ziger, which was immediately punished.

Ziger even became an object of speculation. In the middle of the 16th century the purchase quantities were fixed, because the purchase and hoarding of large quantities made the Ziger more expensive. This leads to the question of how one enjoyed the Ziger in earlier times. Beat Frei assumes that Glarner Schabziger made from skimmed milk served the poorer population as a cheap substitute for cheese and also gave the food a spicy taste, both then and now. In those days, the average citizen could not afford special spices such as pepper or foreign herbs.

In the 18th century, the production of Ziger was industrialized with water-powered machines such as the so-called Zigerreiber (Ziger muller). Such Ziger muller are used to grate the white raw Ziger and mix it with the clover. Around 1900, the production of Ziger experienced its peak for the time being. Holland, Germany and even the USA were large sales markets. In 1914, 1’200 tons of Schabziger were produced. Tempi passati: In the last century, one Ziger manufactory after the other closed down. Of the ten Ziger factories around 1920, seven remained in 1948. New dairy products came onto the market, everyone can afford spices today, the Ziger came into the reputation of the old-fashioned.

In 1946, the Cooperative of Ziger manufacturers was re-established as a public limited company under the abbreviation GESKA. But the decline continued. Finally, only one Ziger factory remained. In 2000, milk producers, Ziger buyers and private individuals acquired GESKA from the at that time sole owner Swiss Dairy Food. The remaining production facility was moved from Oberurnen to its present location in Glarus. In 2003 the shares of GESKA AG were sold to the Johannes Martin Trümpy and his brother-in-law Rudolf Zobrist. From 2014 the company became the sole property of Johannes M. Trümpy and his daughter Sarah. After Johannes M. Trümpy retired, Sarah Trümpy took over the management. In 2016 the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Glarner Milch AG, Hermann Luchsinger, took over the management of GESKA. Today GESKA employs 16 full-time and three part-time employees according to its own statements.

Faces of the recent Schabziger history

Johannes Martin Trümpy was born in Glarus in 1949. His father Samuel Traugott Trümpy was a trained chef and ran a delicatessen shop in Glarus. Johannes M. Trümüy stayed in the industry, completed an apprenticeship as a commercial clerk, then quickly made a career in various food and trading companies. Before he took over GESKA, he was Chairman of the Management Board of Import Parfumerie, which is part of COOP Switzerland, and responsible for 90 shops and 650 employees.

Johannes M. Trümpy has always been keen to maintain the company as a family business in the future. Thus, his daughter Sarah Trümpy was gradually introduced to the position of CEO. Thanks to her training in marketing, sales management and her Executive MBA Marketing at the HWZ Zurich, she was well prepared for the office. She gained her professional experience in various functions at companies such as Migros and Valora.

Hermann Luchsinger had already been involved in the Schabziger issue as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Glarner Milch AG since 2009. His aim is to ensure the further creation of synergies between GESKA and Glarner Milch AG, the 49% holding company of GESKA and 51% owned by the Glarus milk producers' cooperative. Luchsinger, who has his roots in Schwanden and Muttenz, was born in Basel in 1956.

For many years, the distinctive face of Johann Jakob Dürst was the hallmark of GESKA's advertising for its Schabziger. He was born in Obstalden in 1918 and was a farmer. Dürst died in Glarus in 2005.

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