Row 14, window seat on the left: The birth of a brand

Wanzl stories (part 2)

In 1951, flying was still an adventure, particularly on long-distance routes across the Atlantic. In the cabin, there was no mistaking the sound of the powerful propeller motors, and their vibrations were constant companions to the passengers who spent the long flight time eating, drinking, smoking and reading in their generously proportioned seats. One of the passengers in particular – sitting at a window seat behind the wing – wanted to achieve something while gliding above the clouds towards Europe. He was preoccupied with too many insights he had gained in America, which had unleashed ideas that he felt compelled to put to paper.

He picked up his leather briefcase, took out a large writing pad and recorded what his meeting with the American pioneer in self-service, Sylvan Goldman, had inspired him to do: he drew the first sketch of a shopping basket mounted on a chassis, which would later be given the memorable name of “Concentra”. When the plane landed in Frankfurt, Rudolf Wanzl had already put his ground-breaking idea down on paper so clearly that he soon registered a patent for it, going on to manufacture thousands of the product over the following years. We can all be thankful that in-flight entertainment had not yet become established – otherwise, who knows which blockbuster the idea of the first mobile shopping trolley would have been sacrificed to...?