A Rough Guide to Icelandic Sweets and Soda
Junk food connoisseur Dr. Gunni recommends some excellent treats.
Exotically named wafer bars
A few decades ago, foreign sweets and chocolate bars were unavailable in Iceland due to import restrictions. Icelandic candy factories supplied the goods instead and sweet-toothed Icelanders settled for the local output.
Hraun, ‘Lava,’ chocolate bars have been made by the Góa company since 1973. It is a wafer bar with a crunchy exterior and is rather cleverly designed to look like a piece of lava.
Icelandic candy bars often have exotic names. Conga is a peculiar tasting chocolate bar orignally made by Linda in Akureyri, but now made by Góa after the companies merged in 1993. Similar to Conga, but still altogether different, is the chocolate bar Malta made by Nóa Síríus. Its connection to the Mediterranean island with the same name is unclear. Yet another Icelandic chocolate bar named after a foreign place is the coconut flour covered Flórída bar. Similar to Florida is Æði, ‘Frenzy,’ which is also a coconut flour covered chocolate wafer bar.
During the import restriction period, the only foreign chocolate bar available in Iceland was Prins Polo from Poland. We traded it for herring or something. It’s a chocolately wafer bar and was for decades the highest selling chocolate bar in Iceland. The five local bars mentioned above were probably put on the market to cash in on Prins Polo’s popularity.
Icelanders have quite an appetite for licorice. Icelandic licorice takes various forms.
From Appolo you can get all kinds of licorice, the Appolo Filled laces being the weirdest. It’s a bag with black licorice ‘laces’ filled with sweet yellow licorice. In the licorice department, also check out Appolo Star rolls, Tromp, a chocolate covered licorice bar, and Djúpur, ‘Deep,’ a bag of licorice filled chocolate balls with a hard white shell. There is also Lakkrísrör, ‘Licorice tube,’ which is commonly used as a straw for soda.
Then there is Opal, licorice lozenges made by Nóa Siríus. Available since 1945, Opal still comes in the original pop art boxes designed by Atli Már Árnason. Available in red (the most popular), green, black and pink varieties. The blue Opal was discontinued a few years ago after one of its main flavorings became unavailable for health reasons! Topas, a similar kind of pastilles, are also available, but do not come in as cool packaging.
The weird stuff
In the weird department you have Froskur, ‘Frog,’ which is a chocolate covered sweet green goo candy in the shape of a frog. It is sold without any wrapping or packaging straight from kiosks. Opinions vary as to whether Froskur tastes better fresh and soft or old and hard.
Kókosbolla, ‘The coconut flour bun,’ is so delicate that it can neither be wrapped nor exported. OK, that may be an overstatement. The bun consists of a white fluffy paste inside a thin chocolate shell covered in coconut flour. For a volcanic party inside your mouth, try drinking Coca Cola while eating the bun.
Boxes of assorted chocolates are usually only used as gifts to hospitalized friends and family, but during Christmas the whole nation goes berserk over boxes of chocolates. Tons of boxes of Quality Street Macintosh are eaten, with the mighty Nóa konfekt a close second. Nóa konfekt can be bought in boxes adorned with pictures of Icelandic landscape or the Icelandic horse, so a box makes a fine present for your people back home.
Soda thirsty nation
Soda manufacturing in Iceland is now maintained by two companies, Vífilfell which produces Coca Cola and related drinks, and Ölgerðin, which produces Pepsi and a few Icelandic brands.
In the past, there were up to six companies competing on the soda thirsty micro market. Many people have nostalgic feelings towards the sodas of yore, brands such as Valash, Spur Cola and Miranda.
Basically only two Icelandic brands are sold today; the fine orange soda drink Appelsín and the fruity punchy Mix, both from Ölgerðin.
A sweet malt beverage simply called Malt is not really a soda drink, as it is not carbonated, but is consumed by Icelanders like a soda. Malt & Appelsín is the drink that Icelanders mix from Malt and Appelsín (50/50). The drink is only drunk during Christmas and Easter – Icelandic tastebuds don’t allow for this drink at any other time.
As everybody in Iceland will tell you, Icelandic water is the best water in the world and it comes in unlimited supply straight from every tab. Therefore, the Icelandic made Coca Cola is also the best in the world. The best way to drink Coke in Iceland is from a small glass bottle, ice cold of course. Don’t forget to drink it through a licorice tube. The cola-moist tube tastes great after the soda is finished, especially if a bar of Prins Polo is being munched along with it. This combination is a true Icelandic delicacy, consumed vigorously by the nation through the decades.
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