I lived in Sweden for seven months and gained ten pounds. I could blame many things—my raging affair with cardamom buns, my wish to taste every meatball in the Stockholm archipelago, or my devotion to chocolate buttercream-filled almond macaroons called chokladbiskvier, the best of which could be purchased every day down the block from my office. But perhaps my greatest adversary, the one that tempted me at every newspaper kiosk, grocery store, and movie theater, was losgodis, Swedish pick-and-mix candy.
The Swedes love their candy. According to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Swedes eat the most candy in the world: “17 kg of candy per person per year…double the amount of the average EU citizen.” And Easter is the biggest candy weekend of the year, when families fill quart-sized paskagg, decorated paper Easter eggs, with candy. On Easter day, the adults hide the paper eggs and each child must find his before he can indulge in its sugary contents. (At my office in Stockholm, the Friday before the holiday, we had a paskagg that you could have used to cradle a baby.)
For me, those pick-and-mix bins were full of irresistibly pastel-colored, chewy, sugar crystal-encrusted mysteries that needed to be solved. The shapes were garish (skulls, nonpareil-covered berry jellies, bedspring-shaped hard candies); the names were delightfully alien (skumbanan, fruktnappar); and each bite could either be reward (jordgubbdrom, a strawberry-scented marshmallow dream dusted in the lightest coat of sour sugar) or punishment (salta bananer, salty licorice-foam bananas).
Lucky for me (but unlucky for my waistline), Sockerbit, a candy shop devoted to imported Swedish candy, has just opened in New York City’s West Village. Owners Stefan Ernberg and Florencia Baras named and designed their shop to match the chewy cubical marshmallow candy after which it’s named, but they carry so much more: I dropped by recently to fill my paper bag with all of my favorites, from chic Marianne hard candies with their signature red-and-white striped wrappers to chocolate-coated marshmallow bears. Here’s a sampling of some of the Swedish candies they carry, along with flavor notes.