Food

What Swedes Really Do With Their Used Candy Canes

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The window display of the Swedish candy canes called polkagrisar

I like to keep careful track of what goes on at Sockerbit, the Swedish candy store on Christopher Street. The bins of candy form an anatomy of the northern European sweet tooth, and the stock has been expanded to include other Swedish commonplaces, like hardtack bread.

Who could resist a cylinder of candy called “Blabar”?

What caught my eye recently was a window that featured the candy canes of Sweden, which are not quite the same as our candy canes — theirs are of a thicker circumference and made of a slightly softer material.

The flavors are a little off-the-wall, too, and three of the favorites are blueberry, cola, and violet. Franssons, the manufacturer, is apparently the biggest supplier of this confection, and adults have fond memories of visiting the factory (“pokagristillverkning” — and that’s a mouthful) as kids, and watching the canes being made.

All this and more was imparted to me by the clerk at the store. When I told her, “I definitely can’t finish this whole thing. Why don’t they make them any smaller?” She gave me a sidelong glance, and told me this story.

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“In Sweden, we just lick them for a little while. Then we put them in a bottle of vodka, to make flavored vodka. That’s what we really do with them.”

I went home, took a lick of my blueberry-flavored polkagris, and made a face. It tasted really awful. Then I pulled a bottle of vodka from the top shelf of my kitchen, which I’d been disinclined to drink. “Oh well,” I said under my breath as I tried to drop the cane into the narrow-necked bottle. “Guess I should have licked it some more.”

It won’t fit! They must have wider-necked vodka bottles in Sweden.

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