I was asked a few days ago if I could do a post on Swedish candy (or as we say in British English, sweets) It is my very great pleasure!
I have always had a sweet tooth. All my life I have wanted something sweet after my evening meal. I have tried to break the habit, but with no luck. Just a few squares of milk chocolate is enough to sate my cravings though.
In South Africa I always ate more chocolate than sugary ‘kiddy candy’. Cadbury’s (the big UK brand) had a factory in the town I grew up in and I belonged to their kiddy club. You used to receive bags of their failures (eg broken candy or skew wrapping) and also their new creations to test. I love Cadbury’s Aero, Flake, Turkish Delight, Crunchie, Lunch Bar (maybe only in South Africa).
Sweden has some local chocolate producers, for example Fazer and Marabou, but their chocolates are not that exciting.
Sweden’s selection of kiddy candy and liquorice, however, is astounding. There are whole shops dedicated to liquorice – particularly salty liquorice – all over. Liquorice is not my thing though. See a liquorice shop below.
Pick and Mix sugary candy though has increased its appeal for me in later years. My husband enjoys it and so there is always a little bowl or two on our coffee table. It never lasts longer than a day or two. It is probably full of e numbers and preservatives and colour agents but at my stage in life, I don’t really care.
The most popular one – and my favourite – is Ahlgrens bilar. They are chewy marshmallows in three flavours/colours, in the shape of cars (bilar – the Swedish word bil is from automobile). Bilar were originally created by accident. A marshmallow machine in the factory got stuck in 1953 and cooked them for too long, making them much smaller and chewier than regular marshmallows, and creating a shape that looked like a car. Ahlgrens bilar are now the best-selling candy in Sweden. Bilar even have their own English Wikipedia page
Apart from the regular varity, Ahlgrens have seasonal variants of their bilar in the shape of Christmas trees (winter), caravans and ice cream trucks (summer) and different flavours. The current version is dodgem cars in popcorn, candy floss, and cola flavours. You also get liquorice (of course!), sour, and fizzy (called electric cars) varieties. Sometimes you can get chocolate covered cars or chewy fruity ones. You can buy car wheels in different flavours Whenever I travel to South Africa, I carry at least 30 bags of these for friends and family!
They are so iconic that you can buy bilar ornaments and knit your own little bilar
I have a bilar shopping bag, given to me by a neighbour
And there are backpacks…
Another popular candy is Polly
And of course they did a collaboration with Ahlgrens to put bilar in side their chocolate covering!
Sweden also has a candy called Plopp, which I find rather amusing
I love this post Janet – thank you! Sweets and office supplies are my favorites goodies to shop for when traveling to other countries.
I am not a fan of sweets and I much prefer eating a strawberry, raspberries, blackberries, figues or whatever fruit I can pick up in my garden.
Are the photos you posted recent? I am surprised that you still have Pick and Mix sections open in those pandemic times and especially that wearing a mask is not mandatory in Sweden.
Pick and Mix areas have been forbidden about 6 or 8 years ago in France for obvious hygiene reasons. Having people walk by the products, sneeze, cough and talk in the area is utterly non-hygienic.
Seeing that display in your photo made me cringe for two reasons: the quantity of sugar, chemicals and preservatives, and the lack of hygiene of such a place.
I’m the total opposite of you – I don’t have a sweet tooth, and looking at all the photos made my teeth hurt!
We (in our U.S. state) are not allowed to scoop out anything from the “bulk” area of our grocery stores, but instead the lidded-bins are filled with pre-bagged (by the employees) bulk items of various weight. Because of the contagious virus, y’know. So I was blown away that your Pick and Mix area was wide open and free. Free for the contagious virus to land on each and every single piece of candy, y’know.
And that photo of your husband in the Pick and Mix area would be considered a BIG no-no, not only because anyone can sneeze and/or cough in that area, but also because he’s not wearing a mask **inside a store**. Quelle horreur!! But then again, you’re in Sweden. *Big* difference.
Yes it’s strange we still have Pick n Mix and no mask obligations here. In the beginning salad bars and fruit displays were closed. Each piece of fruit was individually wrapped. But now they do not do that anymore either. My pet hate is when parents go wandering off somewhere and allow their small children to dig their hands into the candy. Happily you don’t see it often, and never in the supermarket where we shop.
This is what gets to me:
Sweden, with NO lockdowns or mandatory mask wearing, is one of the countries in Europe with the lowest number of deaths from the dreaded contagious virus.
The state that I live in has one of the most draconian lockdowns *ever* (including required wearing of masks *everywhere*, even outside in the open air if you’re within 6 or more feet of someone), had a higher death rate than other U.S. states that did not have draconian lockdowns (and mandatory masking).
In my state, it’s really disturbing and upsetting that one is not allowed to go to our state parks (with their attendant open air), but it’s totally okay to be jammed into a supermarket with a zillion other mask-wearing patrons, provided that you’re of course at least 6 or more feet apart. Oftentimes, we’re not at least 6 feet apart, so who’s kidding who???
Things that make you go hmmmm. Really.
Parents should parent their children and not allow them to grow up without discipline – digging their mitts into unwrapped candy? allowing them to run around screaming like banshees? Just because one can breed doesn’t mean one should. And that’s my last two cents, for now.