In Germany, there are also other regional variations. In Nuremberg, the bratwurst are considerably smaller, approximately the length and thickness of an adult's thumb. Perhaps the most popular sausage in Germany, Nürnberger Bratwürste / Nürnberger Rostbratwürste is also protected under EU law with PGI status. Traditionally soaked in milk, roasted, and served three abreast on a bun with mustard, this pork-based wurst is recognized in markets and restaurants across Germany, and prepared according to taste (boiled, smoked, grilled, etc.). Fresh marjoram is often attributed to be one of the important flavors in this distinctive sausage.
In the Franconia region, the bratwurst are long and thin, often served in pairs.
The "Wurstkuchl" in Regensburg, Germany, is the oldest bratwurst restaurant still in existence. It was established shortly after 1146 and has been serving bratwurst to dock workers. Today it mostly serves as a tourist attraction but still roasts bratwurst the traditional way.
A giant wurst-and-bun statue can be found at the main intersection of Holzhausen, the location of the German Bratwurst Museum (Deutsches Bratwurstmuseum). The museum, run by the Friends of Thuringian Bratwurst, opened in 2006 and is devoted only to the Thuringian sausage.
The oldest document in the museum mentions the bratwurst first time in 1404 in Thuringia. In 1410 followed the County of Katzenelnbogen. They will celebrate 600 Years of katzenelnbogen bratwurst in 2010.
Within the US, bratwurst, while not strictly a regional cuisine, is strongly identified with areas of the US where German and other Northern European immigrants settled in large numbers, like Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is informally known as the "Bratwurst Capital of America". The city celebrates "Sheboygan Bratwurst Days", a community festival held on the first Thursday through Saturday of August each year. Bratwurst is especially popular in a region stretching from Chicago, Illinois up through Wisconsin into Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin is also a center of bratwurst appreciation. Johnsonville Foods, the nation's largest bratwurst maker, is based in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Other traditional Wisconsin brat manufacturers include Klement's Sausage Company and Usinger's, both of which are based in Milwaukee.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin, holds an annual festival billed as the "World's Largest Brat Fest". The four-day charity event sees tens of thousands of brats sold by "celebrity" cashiers, usually local television, radio, and government personalities. Brat Fest's self-proclaimed world record is 191,712 brats consumed during the 2008 event. Throughout Wisconsin, the "brat fry" is a popular fundraising technique; brats are grilled outdoors and sold for the benefit of a charity organization.
Another town with German-American roots is Bucyrus, Ohio, which is known for its unique recipe incorporating caraway seed. It holds a bratwurst festival annually in mid-August attracting over 100,000 visitors annually. A Bucyrus-style bratwurst is served split on a rye bun with sauerkraut, mustard, and chopped white onions.
The bratwurst was popularized as a mainstay of sports stadiums after Bill Sperling introduced brats to major league baseball in Milwaukee County Stadium in 1953. The brats were such a hit, Sperling said, that Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers took a case back to New York, and the rest is history.
The type of bratwurst most commonly found in the United States are the larger variety (as opposed to the smaller "Nuremberg-style" bratwurst), approximately 1 inch in diameter, reddish-brown in color, and made of some combination of beef and pork and is sometimes smoked. Bratwurst made exclusively with chicken or turkey, and even vegetarian versions, are increasingly found in American grocery stores.