However, the invention of marzipan is usually attributed to Lübeck, Germany. One legend claims that during a 15th-century famine when flour for making bread was scarce, the senate of Lübeck ordered bakers to create a replacement. The bakers came up with the recipe for marzipan by using eggs, sugar, and almonds. Marzipan was also made in German pharmacies and meant to serve as a medicine.
High-quality marzipan is defined by the proportion of almonds and sugar used; a higher proportion of almonds used the better and more expensive the marzipan. Many countries regulate the percentage of almonds a recipe must have for the sweet to be legally called marzipan. This discourages the use of apricot kernels as a cheap substitute for almonds.
Marzipan is a traditional food to eat on weddings and religious feast days in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus. In many countries of northern Europe, it is considered good luck to receive a marzipan pig on Christmas or New Year’s Day.
In Mexico, pine nuts and pistachios are other substitutes for almonds in marzipan. Marzipan in the Middle East is flavoured with orange-flower water. French marzipan is made by combining ground almonds with sugar syrup. In the Philippines, marzipans are called ‘mazapán de pili’ as it is made using pili nuts instead of almonds.