Free Candies and the First Frappe: Historic Moments from the Thessaloniki International Fair

The Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) is the most important international annual fair for the entire Balkan region and the largest in Greece.

Thousands of visitors from Greece and across the world, flock to Greece’s second city to be entertained, to trade, to browse or simply be part of the festive atmosphere.

The Fair’s history has several remarkable events, such as the first time frappe coffee was produced and the visitors’ ecstatic reaction when free candy was handed out.

Here are some of the Fair’s most important moments.

1926: Nicholas Germanos opened the doors of the first Fair on October 3, which was housed at an army camp at the area of Stratigeio and covered 7,000 square meters. The first Fair had 600 participating exhibitors and attracted a total of 100,000 visitors.

Nikolaos Germanos

1927: A year later, at the second TIF, which attracted 200,000 visitors, and while everything was running normally, on the afternoon of September 27, the Fair sunk into darkness due to a power cut.

1928: The first year that the Greek Prime Minister visited the TIF. Coming from Belgrade, Eleftherios Venizelos made a stop in Thessaloniki and the carpet exhibitors donated a rug to the Prime Minister.

Venizelos visits the TIF

1929: “Life Savers” company distributed free candies to its visitors. Due to the fact that Greeks had just come out of deprivation, the exhibition stand was full of parents who tried to ensure candy for their children.

1931: The Athens Electric Company presented the first electrical household appliances.

1935: The 10th International Fair was held without its founder for the first time, since Germanos had passed away in January of the same year.

Hundreds gather outside the Egypt kiosk in 1934

1941: During the Nazi occupation, the Germans used the kiosks as warehouses and blew up the TIF buildings before they departed from the city. The exhibition, thereafter, remained closed for 10 years.

1951: Prime Minister Nikolaos Plastiras announced the reopening of the TIF. 5 billion drachmas were allocated for this purpose from the American Credit and another 1 billion for advertisement.

1954: The American pavilion presented the first closed circuit television, leaving guests speechless, since it was the first time they could see themselves on the screen.

1955: The TIF and the entire country was marked by the expulsion of Greeks from Constantinople. The Turkish pavilion in TIF closes before the end of the Fair.

Dimitris Vakondios

1957: Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of the representative of the Nestlé company, created the first frappe coffee. Nestlé was introducing a new chocolate beverage for children that was produced instantly in a shaker. During a break, Vakondios wanted to have his regular Nescafé Classic but he could not find any hot water, so he mixed the coffee with cold water in a shaker.

1959: The USSR presented three model Sputnik satellites and the largest particle accelerator in the world.

1960: The idea of the International Film Festival, first launched by Linos Politis and Paul Zanna, was immediately adopted by the TIF.

1961: The Song Festival moves to Thessaloniki.

1963: There is a fire in the Patraiki booth due to short-circuit in electrical cables.

1964: Miss World Korina Tsopei, along with Miss USA Bobby Johnson, attract all visitors’ eyes at the premises of the TIF and actress Eleni Anousaki made such a sexy appearance that police tried to prevent her from entering the Film Festival’s administration building.

1966: The TIF launched a new institution, Miss Festival. First winner was actress Vera Krouska.

1970: The Tower of OTE was built. The architectural creation of Alexandros Anastasiadis became TIF’s trademark.

1971: At the opening day of the 36th TIF, the ferry Eleana was burnt at the Adriatic sea, leaving dozens dead.