The German Cold Cut Expedition- Fred Reich and Hickory Sweet
When I was a child German Cold Cuts (Aufschnitt) like Schinken, Cervelat, Fleishwurst, and Leberwurst HAD to be on the table.
Not Roast Turkey or Roast Beef
My family ate Zungenwurst, Blutwurst, and Mettwurst and Gelbwurst.
Sadly, the deli department of our local grocery store didn’t carry anything like that. So mom had to go further out to find the foods she loved (and recognized). A few times a year we would take an expedition to see Fred Reich, of Hickory Sweet Meats, a South Central Los Angeles institution.
Fred Reich and Hickory Sweet Meats
The Best place for German Cold Cuts
My memories of Hickory Sweet meats begin in the early 1970’s. Mom would let friends know that she was headed out to get Aufschnitt, and they would give her a list of what they wanted. Then she put a cooler in the back of our Monte Carlo, and load us up, and off we’d go.
I remember being overwhelmed by the size of the Hickory Sweet. This was no small operation. Huge! With long display counters loaded with meats and cold cuts that you couldn’t get anywhere else. You had to pull a number, and often we had to wait a while because of the crowds. It was never boring, Butchers in white coats hustled to fill orders and give samples. Everything was clean. There was that spicy, salty smell that I love.
Then it was our turn.
The men behind the counter always spoke German with my mom. And they always handed me a fresh Knackwurst to munch while filling the order. Sometimes, Fred Reich himself would be there, alongside his people, talking and making sure that everything was running according to German plan. (I always remember thinking he must be famous…. not only did he have a shop, he had a German radio program that ran every Sunday Morning. )
All of the Aufschnitt would be wrapped in crisp white butcher paper, and a note about the contents and price were scribbled in grease pencil on the outside, so you knew what it was when you got home. Westphalian Schinken, Leberwurst, and thick slices of Leberkäse (our favorite) for frying. Wiener, Bratwurst of all kinds, Suppenwurst and Weiss Wurst.
Finally we were done… our cooler neatly packed with delicious Aufschnitt for lunches. That night we would often have fresh Wurstchen for dinner…. YUM
The Neighborhood Changed
Fred Reich passed away years ago, and his Hickory Sweet store closed. The neighborhood continued to change, and the world got smaller. German foods were available in more locations. In fact, today, my local grocery store sells many of my favorites like Wurstchen and Bratwurst. But, like my mother, I still occasionally load up my car with a cooler for an Aufschnitt expedition, because my kids like Leberkase too.
Thank you to Bernd Mall for sending me this clipping from the Bad Urach newspaper where Fred Reich was born.
How did a German Butcher end up In South Central Los Angeles?
A short aside…..For those of you familiar with South Central Los Angeles, I’m sure you are wondering how a German Butcher shop landed in this neighborhood. Remember, Los Angeles before the 1950’s and 1960’s had a different demographic. Fred built his shop when the area was a quiet middle class part of LA. As the world around him changed, he never did. His meats were always fresh, and delicious, and he cared about the neighborhood. Smoked meats, sausages and his cold cuts were popular with his new African American neighbors. There are many rumors about his generosity, and free hand outs to the less fortunate locals. During the Watts Riots, the neighborhood repaid him by protecting his business from fire and looting.
Time continued to pass, and the world continued to change. The neighborhood became more Hispanic, and with that came a change in tastes. Finally, Hickory Sweet closed its doors for the last time.
Gone, but not forgotten. I have searched for hours for photos of Fred Reich and the Hickory Sweet store…. but I can’t find anything. Does anyone out there have a photo they could share? Or a memory?
The Hickory Sweet Catalog
Thank you Bernd Mall for sending me this!
Take the time to read the Comments Below!
Some people who knew the shop, and even some who knew Fred Reich personally, have shared information. And some are looking for other people who may have been involved in the store.
I found out where one of Fred Reich’s Apprentices, Alex Lagger ended up !
Time for another ROAD TRIP
Hickory Sweet Is Gone, But You Can Still Order German Sausage and German Cold Cuts
Check out Cured and Cultivated if you are on the West Coast
Wieners SCHALLER & WEBERigourmetWeisswurst (Bockwurst) SCHALLER & WEBERigourmetBundnerfleisch SCHALLER & WEBERigourmetKnackwurst SCHALLER & WEBERigourmetLandjager SCHALLER & WEBERigourmetLachsschinken Cured & Smoked Ham SCHALLER & WEBERigourmet
German Black Forest Schinken – Sliced Dry Cured Smoked Hamigourmet
Other Online Sources for German Cold Cuts
Very fond memories of Hickory Sweet! My family lived on 87th and San Pedro. I lived here until I was 3.
You could smell the bread baking!
We would always return to Hickory Sweet with my great grandma who always bought her meats here and treat her grand children to the most delicious cookies!
We would buy Smoked turkey to have for holidays!
Thanks for bringing back a memory from past!
Wasn’t it wonderful? I wish there were more places like this around..
Just thinking about when I was growing up and just some things that brought good memories, the hickory sweet market was the best even though the neighborhood wasn’t but that was our store best cookies ever!!
Was wonderful inside!
This was the most wonderful place in the world. My family owned a business nearby on Broadway and we always bought our meats here. The quality, freshness and taste could not be beaten. I can still recall and it’s been years! Some of our favorite things here were the deli meats german salame and the black forrest ham, their bacon, head cheese (both hot and mild), steaks, ribs, roasts, just everything. The bakery was superb with everything ranging from crusty bread, brownies, tea cakes, cheesecakes cut into squares. I could go on and on. The owner was a very kind-hearted man who made everyone feel welcome. Staff was awesome. This store represents a huge part of my growing up in LA. Times were different then. Fred Reich stood the test of time and did not flee a changing demographic. He was a generous man, always donating to the local schools and churches in the surrounding area. The store actually inspired me to take up German in school and though I rarely get to speak it, it was always fun going there and speaking with them. They always encouraged me and helped me with my phrasing. Nothing compares to them!!! Nothing!!!
What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Fred Reich really was a one of a kind.
Omg, I remember Hickory Sweet and FRED TOO. I lived down the same street they were on. My dad and mom shopped there often. I remember going in sometimes after school which was across the street Fred would hand me a weiner the best ever the skin would snap. Loved it. Also the cream puffs. I remember it all. Our family lived there since the 1950’s. A black family that supported the German deli and bakery until they closed.
mmmm… loved that place (and I still love the snap!)
My grandparents lived on a farm in Compton..I know hard to believe, but Fred and his family moved in nearby having emigrated from Germany He use to help my grandfather butcher the steers and pigs on the farm. Then he opened a small shop selling his meats., which grew to the block long store we all remember. We would also pack a cooler, tell everyone we were going to Fred’s (I didn’t really know the name Hickory Sweet till I was a teenager). When we got there Fred would come out and hug all of us, reminding my mother he will always remember her in overalls and pigtails. I loved the lunch meat and bread but my favorite thing was the lundjuggers. The were always hanging on a string running above the counters drying out. They beat any beef jerky today. I actually found a butcher shop at Pike Street Market in Seattle that sold them and they tasted just like Fred’s. I bought extra in a package and am bringing them to our family Christmas to share the memories.
I am writing fom Germany. Accidentaly I found this comments. I´m In the process of the genealogcial research of my familiy´s history andI found out that Fred Reich born 27.11.1901 in Bad Urach was the son of my grand grandfather. Now I try to find familiymembers. If anybody knows the familiy please contact them and give them my e mail: [email protected]. or kontakt me to give me some informations that I can find them. It would be so great to get in tough with them.
If possible it would be very nice if you can help.
Have you seen the comment from Ronda? Apparently her family lived near Fred’s family in Compton.
I have many memeories also of my parents taking our family there. Besides the free wiener, I remember a round white cookie with a rainbow of colored sprinkles all over them, I remember loving them but I have never had them or seen them again since we moved away when I was six, anyone out there remember them and know what they were called? Also, I remember my parents would always buy a blue circular tin with small squares of hard toffee’s that were individually wrapped in white paper, they were so good, anyone know info on those as well, my sweet tooth has been dreaming them for over 30 years….I’m also interested if anyone has a picture of Hickory Sweets inside or outside, I’d be curious if It jogged any memories….
There are a few others here who remember… maybe someone has the answer
Sad.. I did a google search, and can’t find photos of the place. Of course, this was a time before everyone felt the need to photograph everything
Yes I remember the cookies with the sprinkles, the fresh meats & the party time orange drink in the carton. Good memories of living on 87th Place & Broadway in the 70’s.
wasn’t it a wonderful place? Shame it’s gone
Such great meats, I wanted them to mail me some meats I lived in the area they use to call German town good memories
Thank you so much for sharing! I was just enjoying a FB discussion of a (closed) Whittier German deli (Schirmers) and mentioned that they used only Fred Reich meats. My family would drive there in the 50’s from Whittier in our ’52 Chevy so my German mom could stock up. I vaguely remember the Hickory Sweet name, but we always referred to it as Fred Reich. I also remember the German wiener with the ‘snap’ at the bite, and cannot leave a German deli these days without unwrapping the wieners and having one on the way home.
Christmas was extravagant at Hickory Sweet with the multitude of chocolates and cookies!
Shopping here in my childhood has set a lifetime precedent of always finding the nearest German deli wherever I live, and becoming a regular customer.
We always called it Fred Reich too… do you remember his radio program?
I loved reading all these comments and the story. My grandfather was a butcher there. I practically grew up there. My uncle also worked there!
WOW! Do you happen to have any photos to share?
Back in the fifties when I was 11, every Saturday my mother drove me up to Los Angeles to go to German school to learn high German because I only spoke Bavarian. On the way home we always stopped at Hickory Sweet to get our wurst. I always got a free wiener from Fred or one of the other butchers. It was always a treat that I looked forward too.
Wasn’t it wonderful? I can still remember the smell…
Glad to find this post.I’ve always wondered about the istory of the place.We went there all of my life until they closed. It was amazing. Now we just go to Alpine Village in Torrance.
It’s so nice to learn that other people loved Fred Reich’s store too
I have photos. I have to pull them out. I was frequently taken here by my father in the 80’s and 90’s. I loved this place! The pickles were the best!!! Best meats ever! I have photos of a few of the people that worked there including Fred. I was told by my father that the children promised Fred that they wouldn’t close the store until after Fred passed away. They kept their promise. I have missed every part of this beautiful, flavorful, welcoming place! Not to mention the pastries! The brownies!!!! Soon I will locate the photos. Thanks for sharing this memory.
Ohhhh!!! If you find the photos, could you scan and send me some to put in the post? I would give you credit, of course. I know there are a few people who would love to see them.
Do you happen to know what kind of cookie the round ones were with rainbow of sprinkles on them- I remember I was given a free one when you would come in…I’ve been looking for them forever, and still haven’t found them- I’d love to see your pictures, if you posted them!
oh gosh… I don’t know…
I remember Hickory Sweet well and old Fred Reich, a little bald man that would come from behind the country and talk to the customers. I remember him very fondly, taking my wife and me to to rear to give us a tour of the facility. He was then already in his eighties. One of the butchers was Otto, a friendly man and always handing out samples. After Fred retired (he died in 2001 age 100 !) the business was run for a while by his grandson, the business started fading as the old time clientele too started dying off. My favorites at Fred Reich’s were the Wieners (Würstchen) and the white Bratwurst. There were other German butcher shops in the L.A. area at that time, notably Eschbach’s and also of course at the Alpine Village. Neither came close to the quality of Fred’s meat products.
Fred spoke often of his early days – told me how the area near Manchester & Main was once inhabited by citrus farmers, many of them Germans, that there was a railroad stop nearby and that Manchester Blvd. back in the 1920’s was a dirt road. He also mentioned that he had a brother that had gone to Brazil around the same time he had settled in California (early 1920’s) and that brother during World War 2 had returned to Germany to visit his family and been promptly drafted into the Nazi army & sent to the east front where he got killed.
Thank you for sharing the story.
Anyone, know what kind of cookie the flat circular ones with the rainbow sprinkles were? I believe they gave them out for free to kids?
oh… I don’t remember … maybe someone else does?
I have such sweet memories of Hickory Sweet. During the 50s/60s my mother and I would travel from Torrance to LA to stock up on goodies. Yes, I too was given a frankfurter while my mother placed her order. Then is was on to the bakery for brotchen. On the ride home I would take one of the bread rolls, bore a hole in it and inserted one of the frankfurters. So yummy. Fifty plus years ago I started going to Hickory Sweet with my then new husband. Time pasted, life moved forward to fast and our road trips to LA stopped. Luckily I found a German deli in my city, however it was small with a limited selection. Nevertheless it filled a need till I could stop at the Alpine Village for supplies.
There are quite a few German Delis in Southern California… some even have men who worked under Fred Reich.
I loved the brownies, haven’t found anything even close to the ones from Hickory Sweet. I get one take it home put it in the freezer and eat it with ice cold milk. I leave on 87st. and went to school across the street at Mother of Sorrow. I love to ditch school and go get cookies snd the brownies fron later that knight. Just had a brownie that was too sweet and no coconut. At least i got to know what a good brownie taste like.
My mother and I we’re sitting and talking when she suddenly blurted out the name “Hickory Sweets!”. She had finally remembered the name from a previous conversation we had regarding the old neighborhood. As funny as it was (her outburst) I must admit, I too was equally exited to hear the name. It released an immediate flood of memories from my youth and family life in years that were quite formative to a young man’s palate. The entire family shared similar experiences to the others who’ve left comments here so, I won’t beat that horse but, the impact that a name I haven’t heard in over 36 years has on me definitely merits mention. Such an impact that I immediately opened my device and although I was frighteningly sure of what I’d find, I began my search to find a bit of my past, which has led me to you. My neighbors and fellow friends of Hickory Sweets. Albeit sad to hear of the fate of our provider of happiness between the buns, it warms the heart to hear the stories and memories of people just like myself, from the same neighborhood, who were equally lucky enough to be there at the right time. The memories of Hickory Sweet meats will go with me to the great beyond. Until then, I’ll try my best to explain, from my experience, the magic of Fred Reich’s little heaven to any and all who will listen.
BTW, does anyone remember our other wonderful neighborhood international eatery, “The Irish Shanty” on Florence Ave., just south of the Goodyear blimp house? The most incredible fried chicken with an unidentifiable breading, wrapped in newspaper!!! Great stuff!
Ohhhh! That Chicken sounds good!
I’m delighted to know that you have such good memories of Hickory Sweet. If you are still in Southern California, you might stop in at George’s Market in Calimesa… I understand he worked with Fred Reich. My mom loves the place
Hello didn’t think anyone still remembered Hickory
Sweet but nice to know memories still exists. I grew
Up in South Los Angeles in the fifties and sixties and
my mother use to frequent that store because of
their quality products back in the day. I still have
wonderful memories and think about that store from time to time being able to get samples of their
Meats and cheeses when you visit.
It was a special place… shame it’s gone.
You can still get German Coldcuts from one of his butchers at George’s Market in Calimesa
Oh my goodness..my husband and I owned Video Flicks on S. Broadway and lived for 4 years behind our store. For all those years we did 90% of our shopping at hickory Sweet. Since I am German, I was so sad that after we sold our business and came back from Utah that the store would close. We now live in Michigan, and we still miss the aufschnitt, cakes, meats, etc. Fred Reich and every one of his employees spoke German and they truly treated every human with the same courtesy. Now I remember, that Fred’s son told me that they would be selling hickory Sweet out of the Alpine village in Torrance. We went there a few times, but the business had been sold to a Korean Enterprise. Bought our girls salamander shoes there and the only thing true German there was a bakery.
THere were a lot more Germans in Los Angeles before the 1980s… things just changed
I grew up in the neighborhood in the 50s and 60s all the while eating Hickorysweet goodies, from tgg G evfresh meats to the delicious baked goods.
For the last 20 odd years before their closing my mother worked for Mr.Reich, and after his retirement, worked for His daughter Dorothy. My mom worked at the bakery counter and at the checkout.
That’s amazing… what a small world. YOu don’t happen to have any photos, do you? A few people are asking.
Alex Lager over at alpine village in torrance is a real close family friend of ours. Hes still there making all the sausage. George (my grandfather) over at Georges Market used to work for fred as well. He always speaks highly of him. Fred was a roll model for many who worked for him. George has now been at the same location and owned his own business for 50 years now in Calimesa in riverside county (Georges Market).
My mother shops there often! so does my God-mother!
If you have any photos can you email them to me please? Thank you in advance, George would love to see them he is almost 85 now.
Hopefully someone sees this… I don’t have any
I was just strolling down memory lane when Hickory Sweets came to mind, I lived on 88th and Main and went to this Meat market my whole childhood til I moved away at 22, they were the nicest people, and they always greeted me and my family with a smile, I would see Fred all the time walking around the premises, and speaking to different neighbors, giving out samples, and just being a genuinely kind person. I have nothing but fond memories of this place.☺️
It really was the end of an era when he passed.
Hickory Sweet crossed my mind today so I Googled it. Loved reading the comments. I would go there with my mother in the 60’s – 80’s. I remember seeing Fred. They would always give my younger brother a hotdog
My mom loved the deli meats and lemon cookies. I continued to shop there when I was an adult. One of the younger butchers would always address me as Mademoille. I thought that was nice and he was cute too. I remember the young lady on the register. Someone posted they were related to her. Everyone was always so pleasant. I was saddened when the market was set on fire and destroyed during the Rodney King riots in 1992. The market was never rebuilt and it was a real lost to the community. All of us that shopped there were heartbroken for the family and workers. Now there are only Hispanic type stores in the neighborhood and I feel there meats are second grade. Gone are the good days when people took pride in their products.
Oh! I didn’t realize the store was lost in the Riots! It really was a special place to so many people.