“Who invented it?”
In the“Kreuz” they wonder if still and still for how many years the specialty“basket chickens” has been sold in the Seewen household. They are certain: since the house was built in 1653, guests have been able to order poultry products… Because centuries ago, what did hoteliers want to serve their guests? Local products, of course! And this included the “chicken” they kept in their yard.
They don’t look back that far. “Basket chicken” as we know it today has not been on the “Kreuz” menu for centuries, but has been for decades! Grandfather Anton (‘Toni’) Frey-Schuler, born in Goldau (SZ) in 1905, together with his wife Käthy, invented this ‘dish’.
The following facts support this:
Toni Frey, a traveling salesman at Landtwing Distillery, fell in love with Katharina (Käthy) Schuler, the daughter of a landlord at the “Zum Kreuz” inn in Seewen, while doing his job. He married Käthy in 1933 and they have hosted “Kreuz” guests together ever since. His passion was popular music and – poultry farming! (During World War II he even obtained a special permit from the federal government to inspect chicken coops…). He was the founding president of the Innerschwyz Poultry Breeders’ Association, an active breeder in the Ornithological Association of Schwyz and environs, and a member of many other small animal associations. Very close to where he worked, ‘Kreuz,’ he kept all kinds of poultry in various poultry houses. Week after week it was said: the beautiful animals in the offspring, the unsuitable ones in the frying pan. Grandma Käthy served the plucked poultry-along with the risotto-to the ever-growing crowd of foodies. A ‘Güggeli’ was a party then!
Schlittler & Co, wicker and decorative items, has also been based in the village of Seewen for decades. The “people” knew each other and “traded” with each other. They also migrated baskets from Schlittlers to Freys in the “Kreuz.” At some point, perhaps just for fun, a “Güggel” ended up in a basket of the mentioned company. And ‘basket chicken’ was born. The oldest ‘Kreuz’ business card so far unearthed dates back to 1935 (see below), and the innkeeper’s family used it to advertise ‘Güggeli from their own takings. Demand for the prized ‘Güggeli’ continued to grow, partly because Grandma ‘Käthy,’ who was gifted in the kitchen, knew how to prepare it properly. When son Toni took over the family business in 1966 in the 3rd generation, retailers in the region supplied “chickens” to the restaurant industry. Domestic production could no longer keep up with demand–the only thing left was to supply the farm with eggs from our own farm.
The “cross” is led by him, Peter Rickenbacher, grandson of Toni Frey-Schuler, the 4th generation of the family. The centerpiece of the offering is still “Poulets im Körbli (chickens in the basket).” Of course, other specialties, such as freshly caught rainbow trout or deer from the region, are also available. Several chicken houses around the “Kreuz” have survived from the “establishment” of “Chickens in the Basket,” where numerous laying hens and show animals still live.
It can be said without a doubt: the original “Poulet-im-Körbli” inn is the “Kreuz” in Seewen. Its popularity over the decades has since found many imitators… But those who rely on the original cannot avoid the “cross” in Seewen.