The development of mankind has been expedited by many major inventions – such as the creation of the wheel and the light bulb – but few have been more helpful to humans young and old on their first day of school than the Schultüte (literally “school cone,” also known as Zuckertüte, or “sugar cone”). While the thought of going to school again or for the first time may dampen the mood among some students, the Schultüte is a true motivational tool.
The Schultüte is part of a German tradition played out every August or September at the start of the school year: Einschulung (The First Day of School), which is a very special event that symbolizes the importance of a child’s formal education. The Schultüte – a special cone-shaped container that is about three feet tall filled with candy, toys and school supplies – is a gift from the parents to their children so that they feel special on this important day.
How it began: The history of the Schultüte harkens back to the year 1810 in the Germanic regions of Saxonia and Thuringia, where wealthy, privately-schooled children received large cone-shaped bags filled with sweets and toys to celebrate their first day of school. It wasn’t until much later that the middle and lower class children were brought in from the fields to begin public school. From then on, the practice was mainstreamed and has grown into a time-honored back-to-school routine. It wasn’t until 1910 when this handcrafted tradition was compromised. Carl August Nestler from Wiesa in Saxonia began to mass-produce the token bags. Today more than 700,000 such bags are sold every year in Germany.
What should go into the Schultüte: To offer American first-grader, high school or college freshmen something special on their first day of school, surprise them with sweets, treats and useful things. The cones can be ordered online, but if you want to be creative, craft a Schultüte of your own.
For youngsters, here are some fun things to put in the bags: crayons, erasers, watches, yo-yos, hair ties/clips, gum and stuffed toys. And as is the German tradition, fill the Schultüte up with some authentic German candies such as
For older students, you may want to add some healthy energy and brain foods, such as
See our online store for these and other goodies.