A Nutty Food Business

Maritime Marzipan—a German treat inspired by Island life

If someone had told me a decade ago that we’d live in Canada one day I would have been surprised. If someone had told me two years ago that we’d have a house by the ocean I would have said they were crazy. If someone had told me six months ago that we’d start a business making marzipan I would have laughed. And yet here we are now in Goose River, Prince Edward Island, Canada, launching Maritime Marzipan.

The ‘we’ is my husband, Mike, and I. We were both born and raised in Germany and have been together for over twelve years. A good while ago, my work with an international pharmaceutical company brought us to Canada for a one year stint. I have a background in marketing, management, and customer service. Mike, a banker by trade and a computer enthusiast by heart, had just started his own online retail business. We landed in Toronto and loved it. The people, the big city, Canada… wow! So we decided to stay permanently.

Mike Fritz and Jessica L. Fritz, co-founders of Maritime Marzipan//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

Fast forward to 2016. We are now German-Canadians (yay to dual citizenship!) and have just made another big move—this time from downtown Toronto to rural Prince Edward Island. We’ve been here about a year now, and yes it has taken some getting used to, but it’s so worth it. Our lifestyle changed 180 degrees. Well, that was the plan all along—a backyard to grow veggies in, a dog to run around in it (not the garden, the backyard!), and the stunning landscape; these are the things we came for. Experiencing the warm welcome of a close knit community, and the extraordinary support for entrepreneurs in Canada’s Food Island caught us by surprise.

Mike has entrepreneurship in his blood, and I have always been passionate about food, cooking, and the cultural experiences that come with it. We knew we wanted to explore the possibility of launching a food-based business once we were settled on PEI, we just didn’t know what we wanted to focus on.
As it turns out, it was a trip back to Germany that planted the seed for what would become Maritime Marzipan. During my visit, I made a very tasty, easy, and healthy cake (yes, healthy!) containing almond paste, which is similar to marzipan. I brought some paste back to Canada to make my new favourite recipe and quickly ran out. There was nowhere to source it freshly and affordably in Canada. Why not make it ourselves we thought? And so the idea of starting our own marzipan business was born. Because if we could make it for ourselves, we could just as well make it for others, no?!

So what is this mysterious marzipan you might ask? It’s an almond-based treat, very common in Germany and other European countries. Its popularity has spread as far as India and Latin America, which were introduced to it through colonization in the 15th century. Its origin is an item of uncertainty coming to Eastern Europe through the Turks and/ or originating in Spain under Muslim influence.

Marzipan coated in chocolate//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

Regardless of history, today the city of Luebeck, Germany is home to one of the most well-known European marzipan brands, Niederegger Marzipan, which was a common staple in my childhood home. The treat comes in many different forms, shapes, and flavours, and is sometimes covered in chocolate. Its basic ingredients are almonds and sugar. Almond paste, the sister of marzipan, has a higher almond to sugar ratio and is mainly used as an ingredient for baking and desserts. Think French almond croissant—there you go.

And this is where our adventure as food entrepreneurs starts. Tasks are distributed based on different skills in our marriage. Mike, who has a lot of experience as an entrepreneur, will manage the business side of things and oversee marzipan production. I will focus on marketing and be the voice of Maritime Marzipan.

If you want to follow along with our story of starting a food business on PEI, visit our bi-weekly column at saltyisland.com and come taste a sample at Salty’s Farm Day in the City booth!

PEI Potatoes? No, its potato marzipan!//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

About Jessica L. Fritz

Jessica is "from away" in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and moved to PEI two summers ago. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. "Thinking globally, buying locally" is her foodie mantra, and being able to grow veggies in her own backyard was one of the big drivers for her move to PEI.
Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI's thriving culinary landscape.
And recently, Jessica and her husband launched their own food business: Maritime Marzipan offers hand-made traditional European almond treats inspired by Island living. She is blogging about her adventure here on saltyisland.com or you can find them at maritimemarzipan.com.

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