When moving to a new country, there are so many new things to learn, absorb and discover – including a slew of new food and drinks to try. In the beginning, it is natural to seek out the products you already know that remind you of home. Once you get settled, the time comes to explore all the local treats your new host country has to offer.
Croatia is full of goodies ubiquitous in everyday life and deeply ingrained in the culture – all produced right here in Croatia. If you’re making Croatia your home for any period of time, we recommend getting to know these Croatian-made products. Doing so will support Croatian brands and help you get to know Croatia on a deeper level.
We’ve plucked out 11 completely Croatian brands and included some history, significance, and cultural backstory as well.
- Franck jubilarna
- Gavrilović Zimska salami
- Kraš sweets
- Mikado rice chocolate
- Nadalina chocolate
- Paprenjak biscuit
- Pipi juice
- Podravka products
- Solana Pag sea salt
- Zdenka cheese
The facts are these…
Cedevita is a vitamin soft drink prepared from powder of different flavors and water. This drink is a favorite refreshment for everyone during hot Croatian summers. It has 9 vitamins, so it is great for raising the body’s energy and quenching thirst. It was invented by Croatian pharmaceutical company Pliva.
A research project conducted by Pliva on the body’s need for vitamins resulted in Cedevita. In the beginning, Cedevita looked more like a medicine and was sold only in pharmacies. It came in glass bottles, packed in cardboard boxes together with a dosing scale. Nowadays, Cedevita is packed in plastic bottles and bags.
Product type: Powdered beverage
Producer: ATLANTIC CEDEVITA d.o.o.
Year of origin: 1969
Franck Jubilarna coffee is considered to be the queen among coffees and a go-to gift for Croatians. Croats usually call it ciglica, which translates as small brick.
[Read: How to give a gift to a Croatian]
The Franck company was started by German merchant and entrepreneur Johann Franck. Their headquarters was opened in Croatia in 1892. First, it produced chicory. The production of coffee began in 1960. Franck was the first company in the world to produce tea packed in filter bags (1968).
Franck is also the first Croatian producer of fried potato chips called Čipi Čips (1977) and fruit-flavored teas (1991). In addition to Jubilarna, Frank offers a variety of other products including coffees, cappuccino, food supplements, sugar, and snacks. In 2015, cafe and night bar Johann Franck was opened in Zagreb.
Product type: Coffee
Producer: Franck d.d.
Year of origin: 1993
The start of the Gavrilović company dates back to 1690 when two brothers started a butchery. The first manufacture was launched in 1822. It was registered as the first Croatian factory of salami, sausages, and dried meat in 1889. What makes the company unique is that it is managed by the 9th generation of the Gavrilović family.
Their legendary product Zimska salama (Winter salami) was invented in 1883. It holds a mark of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce called Izvorno hrvatsko (Originally Croatian).
Product type: Salami
Producer: Gavrilović d.o.o.
Year of origin: 1883
Kraš began its journey under the name Union in 1911. It was the first large-scale chocolate manufacturer in Southeast Europe. Only two years later, Kraš got the title of the supplier to the royal court in Vienna and Buda. In the 30s, Kraš modernized the factory to produce its first candies.
Ratko Zvrko, a notable Croatian writer who was then a student, invented one of their first slogans – Bilo kuda Ki-Ki svuda (No matter where, Ki-Ki is everywhere). It is still used today.
In 1946, Kraš produced chocolate for Nama Store, which is considered the first private-label product in the region. The packaging for their candy 505 won an award for the quality of its packaging. In 1964, the Zagreb flood destroyed their production facilities. They were forced to rebuild and open a modern plant.
During the 70s, the products of Kraš won numerous medals at various international trade fairs. In the 90s, Kraš transformed into a public limited company. Its candies become globally popular during the 2000s. In Zagreb, you can visit the Kraš Choco Bar, the first of its kind in the city.
Kraš owns a large eco-park called Krašograd, situated in Bratina, 25 kilometers from Zagreb. It is a great place for excursions. It has a zoo with domestic animals and a restaurant. They also offer services like sports terrains, organization of weddings and children’s birthdays, accommodation, and team building. More information on Krašograd is available here.
Here is a rundown of the most popular Kraš sweets. (Sara wants you to know that their chocolate-covered napolitanke is her favorite.)
A box of chocolate made of the cocoa and nougat blend – always a welcome gift. It is produced since 1954.
These tea biscuits are Kraš’s trademark product. Domaćica was first produced in 1957 and is now available in 6 flavors.
The first chocolate bar invented in southeastern Europe. It is produced since 1996 and now has 24 different flavors.
Croats use the slogan of Tortica wafer Nemoj misliti na torticu! (Don’t think of Tortica!) in everyday conversation. It refers to redirecting thoughts on something else, instead of continuously thinking about the same (addictive) thing.
Životinjsko carstvo (Animal Kingdom) was first produced in 1938 as the thinnest chocolate in the world. Each chocolate includes a different thumbnail of 250 different animals. Thumbnails are collected into an album with educational descriptions of animals. There is also a digital version of this album, which is available here. Croatians commonly pick up a handful of these for their kids or grandkids at the market.
Other Kraš confectionery includes:
- Chocolate bars – Čoksa, Kraš selection
- Boxes of chocolates – Bajadera, Griotte, Fontana
- Biscuits and wafers – Napolitanke, Choco napolitanke, Jadro, Moto, Jaffa, Petit Beurre
- Candies – Ki-Ki, Bronhi, Pepermint, 505
- Savory range – VIC salted sticks
- Children’s range – Animal kingdom, Bananko, Tortica, Kraš Express
- Sugar-free range – Dorina, Mentol
- Home-baking range – Powdered chocolate, Cocoa powder, Jelly candy, Vermicelli
Zvečevo started as a hard-liquor company in 1921. Soon after, they started producing chocolate, cocoa, candies, and jams. In 1964, the company experienced a total turnover by inventing the Mikado chocolate with rice. It was the first rice chocolate produced in the world.
Mikado is a title which is given to the emperor of Japan. There is also an alternative version made of dark chocolate and integral rice.
Product type: Rice chocolate
Producer: Zvečevo d.d.
Year of origin: 1964
Nadalina is a homemade series of organic chocolate bars of different flavors including almond cinnamon, lavender, figs and sweet wine, honey, pepper, olive oil, carob, and nutmeg. In 2015, Nadalina entered the Guinness Book of World Records for producing the largest chocolate bar in the world. Its surface area was ~102,43 square meters. You can watch a video them preparing the giant chocolate bar in Split here.
Nadalina can be bought in the Nadalina store in Split or at Bio&Bio organic stores. [Read: Bio & Bio – Organic and Natural Food]
Product type: Chocolate
Producer: Luxor d.o.o.
Year of origin: ~2007
Paprenjak (plural paprenjaci) is a biscuit made of flour, sugar, starch syrup or honey, fats, eggs, and spices. It was named after the word papar which translates as pepper. In the past, spices were rare and expensive, so paprenjaci were esteemed.
Paprenjak is protected as an indigenous Croatian product and it is often bought as a souvenir. Some Croatian families prepare homemade paprenjaci on Christmas Eve as a part of Croatian tradition. Croatia Airlines gives each passenger a Paprenjak during their flights.
Paprenjaci is mentioned in the Croatian novel Zlatarovo zlato (The Goldsmith’s Treasure) written by August Šenoa in 1871. Šenoa was the most influential Croatian writer of the 19th century. One of the main characters in this book is Magda Paprenjarka, an old lady who baked the best paprenjaci in Zagreb in her small apartment near Kamenita vrata (Stone Gate, a landmark of Zagreb).
Product type: Biscuit
Producer: Paprenjak d.o.o.
Pipi is a fruit juice that was named after the girl Pipi “duga čarapa” (Pipi “long stockings”) from a children’s novel written by Astrid Lindgren. She has been a trademark of this popular Croatian drink from the very beginning. The main role in Pipi’s first commercials in 1971 belonged to Veljko Rogošić, Croatian marathon runner and sports champion.
Pipi’s first prize game was a pretty interesting idea that certainly wouldn’t fly in modern times. Veljko threw 1.000 bottles of Pipi into the Adriatic sea for participants to dive in and find. Every bottle had a prize voucher for the lucky winners.
Product type: Juice
Producer: Pipi Beverages d.o.o.
Year of origin: 1971
Podravka is a Croatian food company. “Podravka” refers to a female resident of the Podravina region, situated on the north-south of Croatia. The company started as a fruit processing plant and jam factory in 1934. Today they produce meat products, beverages, pasta, flour, and snacks.
Podravka’s dehydrated soups have been on the market for 65 years. In 2003, Podravka launched coolinarika which is Croatia’s biggest culinary site for cooking inspiration and recipes.
Here are a few of Podravka’s top products.
Since 1970, Čokolino is a favorite food both for children and adults. It is a chocolate powder that turns into a delicious drink when mixed with milk. Čokolino’s trademark is an adorable Lino bear. Each year, everyone can get a Lino calendar if they collect enough Lino bears from Čokolino’s packages. View how to win a Lino calendar here.
Lino Lada is a chocolate spread that comes in a few variations including the one with hazelnuts, coconut, and nougat. Lino Lada duo is a legendary half chocolate and half white chocolate. In childhood, my sister and I couldn’t wait for mom to buy us small packages of Lino Lada that no longer exist. We would eat it with a tiny spoon, without any bread or pancakes. 🙂
Vegeta is the most famous Croatian culinary product recognized worldwide and the best-selling seasoning in Europe. Vegeta is a Croatian success from 1958 when professor Zlata Bartl invented it with her laboratory team. It is recognizable for its blue package and illustration of a chef.
Producer: Podravka d.d.
Solana Pag (Saltworks Pag) is the biggest producer of sea salt in Croatia. Its production is based on a 1.000-year tradition of sea salt production on the island of Pag. Its coarse and other types of sea salt are taken straight from the Adriatic sea.
Their saltworks is south of the city of Pag and it covers an area of 225 hectares. The quality of the sea salt is achieved thanks to specific climate conditions and impermeable soil mostly composed of loam and clay. Solana Pag sea salt has the mark of an original Croatian product Izvorno hrvatsko (Originally Croatian).
Product type: Sea salt
Producer: Solana Pag d.d.
Headquarters: Svilno, Pag
Zdenka sir (Zdenka cheese) is a soft creamy cheese spread packed in the shape of small triangles. This cheese coated on tasty bread is ideal for breakfast or added in sauces or a sandwich.
Zdenka sir is produced by the Croatian company Zdenka, founded in 1897 in Veliki Zdenci. This region was rich in pastures with ideal conditions for the development of agriculture and cattle breeding.
The company faced big growth after World War II. It is a leader in the Croatian dairy market and Croatian equivalent for thermally-processed cheese.
Product type: Processed cheese spread
Producer: Zdenka mliječni proizvodi d.o.o.
Headquarters: Veliki Zdenci
Year of origin: 1961
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Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.