The collection of the DDR Museum is documenting everyday life in the GDR and therefore consists of different objects belonging to all sorts of topics. Every day, our colleagues at the collection department are dealing with objects and their interesting stories and sometimes unusual original purposes. One of them is the sealed glass bottle “Contratherm - Heat Drink”, containing a bright pink liquid. Get to know the interesting background story in the following text!
Compensation of mineral nutrients
As the name already suggests, the “Contratherm - Heat Drink” is a beverage for so-called workers in a hot environment. Work in a hot environment is work which causes the human body to develop a high temperature due to the combination of stress through heat, clothing and hard labor (http://www.vdbw.de). Work in a hot environment is performed for example in kitchens, saunas, bakeries, laundries, smithies, electroplating shops or at blast furnaces (http://www.ergo-online.de). Since the body is compensating the high temperatures by emitting sweat it is therefore increasingly losing liquid. This is where the purpose of the Heat Drink starts: Due to its special composition of minerals and vitamins the beverage is preventing a shortage of mineral nutrients. Today such beverages are referred to as “isotonic”. Now the name of the object also explains itself: “Contra” is the Latin term for “against”, “Therm” the Greek word for “Heat/hot”.
Produced in Berlin
The label of the bottle tells us that the beverage was produced at the nationally-owned company Getränkekombinat Berlin PB Spreequell. During the GDR, the company located in Berlin consisted of the breweries Schultheiß, Bärenquell, Engelhardt as well as Berliner Kindl and Berliner Bürgerbräu. The production of soft drinks was realized at the Spreequell company. Beverages belonging to this category are drinks such as the still existing „Club-Cola“, „Spreequell Mineralwasser“ or the lemonade „Bitter Lemon“. In contrary to these products, however, the “Contratherm - Heat Drink” was not over the counter. It was given to the staff employed as workers in a hot environment by their company. This can be understood by the bottle’s label which says “unverkäuflich” (= not for sale). After the German Reunification, Spreequell was turned into a private limited company and the production was relocated to the state of Brandenburg since the end of the 1990s.
Who knows more?
The DDR Museum would like to do more research on this interesting object. We are therefore in need of your support! Have you worked at a company which used to distribute this beverage to its staff during the GDR? Did you consume it on a regular basis yourself or do you know someone who used to drink “Contratherm - Heat Drink” at work? If so, please feel free to contact our colleague Maria Bartholomäus at the collection department: firstname.lastname@example.org or +49 30 - 847123735.
We are looking forward to your stories and experiences!