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Led by Napoleon Bonaparte, the French occupied Hamburg, Germany, in the early 1800s. French soldiers, seeking a taste of home, wanted local bakers to serve croissants. The result, decidedly different from French croissants, could have come about for two reasons. First, it could be that the bakers were more accustomed to using heavy doughs in their pastries, and that their customers wanted something sweet. This would certainly explain the dense, cinnamon-flavored franzbrötchen of today.
Or, the history could be slightly more devious. On the streets of Hamburg, it is said that when the French soldiers demanded croissants, German bakers pretended (in an act of quiet rebellion) to misunderstand. The result was something close to a French croissant, but decidedly German in taste and texture.
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