Recipes similar to that of the Sachertorte appeared as early as the eighteenth century, one instance being in the 1718 cookbook of Conrad Hagger, another individual represented in Gartler-Hickmann’s 1749 Tried and True Viennese Cookbook (Wienerisches bewährtes Kochbuch).
In 1832, Prince Wenzel von Metternich charged his personal chef with creating a special dessert for several important guests. The head chef, having taken ill, let the task fall to his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher, then in his second year of training in Metternich’s kitchen. The Prince is reported to have declared, “Let there be no shame on me tonight!” While the torte created by Sacher on this occasion is said to have delighted Metternich’s guests, the dessert received no immediate further attention. Sacher completed his training as a chef and afterward spent time in Pressburg and Budapest, ultimately settling in his hometown of Vienna where he opened a specialty delicatessen and wine shop.
Sacher’s eldest son Eduard carried on his father’s culinary legacy, completing his own training in Vienna with the Royal and Imperial Pastry Chef at the Demel bakery and chocolatier, during which time he perfected his father’s recipe and developed the torte into its current form. The cake was first served at the Demel and later at the Hotel Sacher, established by Eduard in 1876. Since then, the cake remains among the most famous of Vienna’s culinary specialties.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, a legal battle over the use of the label “The Original Sacher Torte” developed between the Hotel Sacher and the Demel bakery. Eduard Sacher completed his recipe for Sacher Torte while working at Demel, which was the first establishment to offer the “Original Sachertorte ” cake. Following the death of Eduard’s widow Anna in 1930 and the bankruptcy of the Hotel Sacher in 1934, Eduard Sacher’s son (also named Eduard Sacher) found employment at Demel and brought to the bakery the sole distribution right for an Eduard-Sacher-Torte. In 1963 (ages later, basically) both parties agreed on an out of court settlement that gave the Hotel Sacher the rights to the phrase “The Original Sachertorte” and gave the Demel the rights to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal that reads Eduard-Sacher-Torte.
So there you have it. Straight from Wikipedia 🙂