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Kuchen: What's In It For Me?
by Jim Gessele

True to form, Kuchen was served at every afternoon break during the GRHS national convention in Rapid City. Of course this year that was a given. It just had to be. After all, the South Dakota legislature decreed this cholesterol bomb the state dessert.

It was available by piece for a nominal donation. Whole ones went for $5.00. I bought a whole one to keep me company on the long drive through God's country on the return trip to Bismarck. My favorites, rhubarb or prune, were already sold out so I settled for peach.

By the time I reached Belfield, North Dakota, three-fourths of my distraction had vanished - in part out of hunger, in measure out of concern for the egg ingredients spoiling on me. I was on a mission to eat the whole thing and needed a cup of coffee to wash down the remainder. So I took a break at the deli section of the first available gas station. An icy glare was directed at me and my piece of peach when I paid for just one coffee and had the gall to sit in one of their booths. It was then that my cheapness struck me. It was akin to Grandma taking her kids to a restaurant on a once-in-a-lifetime shopping trip to Bismarck back in the 1920s, breaking out a lunch she had packed for the gang, and then only ordering a glass of water for each of her charges.

As I sat and contemplated how many hens suffered untold agony in laying the eggs for this wondrous German-Russian concoction, I noticed the nutrition facts label on the wrapper. And here, after long digression, we finally get to my point: How nutritious is Kuchen anyway? Well, this is what was on the label:

Serving Size 1/6 Kuchen (2.7 oz/76g)
Servings Per Container About 6

Amount Per Serving:
Calories 180
Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Volume
Total Fat 6.0g 9%
Saturated Fat 2.0g 10%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 220mg 9%
Total Carbohydrates 28g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 11g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A 2% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2% · Iron 4%

The remainder of nutrition labels I never have understood, so we can skip that part. But the list of ingredients grabbed my attention. Get a load of this:


INGREDIENTS: Enriched wheat flour bleached (malted barley flour, iron, niacin, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, soybean oil, yeast, whole eggs, sugar, contains 2% or less of: whey powder, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, salt, L-cysteine, monohydrochloride, dextrose, soy flour, diacetyl tartaric acid, esters of monodiglycerides, (DATEM), lecithin, vegetable powder, ascorbic acid, wheat starch, carbamide, calcium phosphate, fungal enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactolate, natural and artificial flavor, corn starch, turmeric, red cartenal FILLING ALSO INCLUDES: cream, modified corn starch, non-fat milk solids, sliced peaches, propylene glycol.
So, you be the judge. Is it worth your good health to even contemplate a slice? Reading that litany of weird ingredients and digesting the calorie count both literally and figuratively in Belfield, on Sunday, September 7, 2003, I felt like a pig. But in spite of that, and to the everlasting credit of Lapp's Bakery in Hebron, North Dakota, this Kuchen tasted darn good. At least as good as Mom's or Grandma's.

As Grandma Lydia rolled out the dough before her little grandson whose nose barely cleared the table-top, you don't suppose she meant that list of alien ingredients when she sighed "...und dann noch Liebe dazu" ("...and add a measure of love")?