Salmiakki: A Foreigner with Unusual Love for Finnish black salty licorice

I have an embarrassing confession to make. As my silky smooth flight – with Finn Air via Toronto – was approximately two hours away from landing in Helsinki, I was overcome by an insatiable craving. My upcoming itinerary in Finland would catapult me into a nonstop cycle of adventure activities including kayaking, boating, horseback riding, cycling and hiking; however, it wasn’t the adrenaline rush activities that were consuming my mind.

Foreigner with an unusual love for Finnish black salty licorice, salmiakki who just can't get enough to eat

What I couldn’t get out of my head was this mad craving (salivating Pavlovian dogs had nothing on me) desire to get my hands (okay, more so my mouth) on Salmiakki.

Here we are Samuel and Audrey as Foreigners taste testing Finnish Salmiakki products in our hotel room in Helsinki, Finland
Samuel and Audrey as foreigners taste testing Finnish Salmiakki products in our hotel room in Helsinki, Finland

Unique and quirky characteristics of Salmiakki, the Finnish candy

Fun Facts About Salmiakki

Oh, salmiakki, the “delightful” Finnish candy that has everyone talking. Here are some “fun” facts about this “unique” treat:

  1. Salmiakki is made by adding ammonium chloride to licorice candy, because why not ruin perfectly good candy with a chemical that’s also used in fertilizer and cleaning products?
  2. Salmiakki is a popular treat in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, because clearly those countries have nothing better to offer in terms of sweets.
  3. In Finland, salmiakki is often used as a flavoring in other foods and drinks, because apparently, nothing tastes better than the flavor of salty cough medicine in your ice cream or chocolate.
  4. Some people describe the taste of salmiakki as similar to that of cough medicine, because who doesn’t love the taste of medicine when they’re trying to satisfy their sweet tooth?
  5. Salmiakki is often used as a natural remedy for sore throats and coughs, because clearly, swallowing a spoonful of sugar or honey is just too mainstream.
  6. Salmiakki is sometimes used as a prank in Finland, where unsuspecting foreigners are offered the candy without any warning of its unusual taste, because nothing says “welcome to our country” like tricking people into eating something that tastes like salty poison.
  7. Salmiakki is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, because apparently, putting your health at risk for the sake of trying a “delightful” candy is totally worth it.

Showcasing the humorous elements associated with Salmiakki, the Finnish candy

So, there you have it. Salmiakki, the candy that’s sure to leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth and a puzzled expression on your face.

Canadian Who Has An Outrageous Love For Salmiakki

Canadian who loves Salmiakki!

Fazer Salmiakki ice cream, milk chocolate, candy and licorice

Salmiakki? What the heck is that?

It’s licorice descended from the depths of heaven Finland. Now, I know exactly what pasta lovers mean when they talk about visiting Italy and upon returning home proclaiming all packaged store bought pasta tastes like cardboard. That’s the way I now feel about ‘normal’ licorice. Anyhow, I’ve been avoiding the question – what exactly is this stuff? Salmiakki, is an extremely astringent black salty licorice that is adored in Finland (and other Nordic countries) that literally comes in all shapes, sizes and range of products. Although it is most common in candy form you can also eat Salmiakki chocolate, gobble Salmiakki ice cream and down shots of Salmiakki infused alcohol to your heart’s content.

Salmiakki Pastillerja Finnish Candy scattered around on the table
Salmiakki Pastillerja Finnish Candy scattered around on the table

Having first sampled Salmiakki one year ago it was love at first bite. I ate as much as I could while briefly in Finland and brought home a few packs – to our then – base in Chiang Mai, Thailand. However, those lasted mere days and then I ran out. And I waited and waited and waited some more hoping to find a pack of this magical Finnish licorice in some kind of specialty import store as I continued my travels in Asia. No luck. One year without a morsel of it. Not even a bite. Enough to drive a sane man crazy.

Visually striking depiction of Salmiakki, the traditional Finnish candy, capturing the various forms of Salmiakki, including hard candies, soft gummies, and hints of flavored ice cream or alcoholic beverages in the background. The unique and intense flavor of Salmiakki, made from ammonium chloride and licorice, is represented by the dark color of the candies.

What Is Salmiakki? 

Salmiakki is a type of Finnish candy that is known for its distinctive black or dark brown color and strong, salty flavor. The key ingredient in salmiakki is ammonium chloride, which gives it a salty, slightly bitter, and astringent taste. It is often combined with licorice, another popular flavor in Nordic countries.

This candy is a traditional treat in Finland, as well as in other Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Its taste is quite unique and can be an acquired taste for those not familiar with it. Salmiakki comes in various forms such as hard candies, soft gummies, and even as a flavoring for other products like ice cream and alcoholic beverages.

The intense flavor of salmiakki often leads to polarized opinions – people either tend to love it or dislike it strongly. It’s a significant part of Finnish culture and a must-try for anyone interested in exploring traditional Nordic cuisine.

Process of making Salmiakki, the traditional Finnish licorice representing a different stage of the production process, from mixing the ingredients to packaging the final product

How Is Salmiakki Made?

The process of making salmiakki, the traditional Finnish licorice, involves several key steps. Here’s a basic overview of how it is typically made:

  1. Mixing the Ingredients: The primary ingredients for salmiakki are sugar, wheat flour, and syrup. To these, ammonium chloride (the compound responsible for the salty flavor) and licorice extract are added. Additional ingredients might include gelatin (for gummy varieties), coloring agents, and sometimes anise oil for extra flavor.
  2. Cooking the Mixture: The mixture is cooked until it forms a thick, sticky mass. This is typically done in large industrial cookers.
  3. Shaping: Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, it is extruded or molded into various shapes. This can include small diamond shapes, round discs, or even figures like animals or hearts. For softer salmiakki, the mixture might be poured into molds.
  4. Cooling and Setting: After shaping, the salmiakki is cooled to allow it to set. This process solidifies the candies and makes them easier to handle and package.
  5. Packaging: Finally, the salmiakki is packaged for sale. This can range from small bags for individual sale to larger bulk packaging for distribution.

My Reaction To Try It

I must preface that my reaction to this candy is extremely unusual for foreigners trying it for the first time. Audrey, couldn’t spit it out fast enough. The Super Salmiakki candy she first popped into her mouth, apparently deriving its name because of its potency, instead could have easily been ‘super’ for its velocity that it projectiled out of her mouth. It’s the kind of polarizing food item that you either absolutely love or absolutely loathe. There is no sitting on the fence with this one.

Anyhow, you must be wondering at this point – did I get my fix? Well, let me tell you something straight up. I’ve got my priorities in order. After a long Transatlantic flight I freshened up, brushed my teeth and put a comb through my hair. Okay, who is kidding who, I did none of that. I rushed into the nearest convenience store in the Helsinki International Airport, located a package of Fazer Salmiakki mixed bag, and proceeded to empty the bag on the bus ride into the city center.

a video of us taste testing Salmiakki products in our hotel room in Helsinki, Finland

How can you experience Salmiakki products for the first time?

Here is a list of all the Salmiakki products I’ve taste tested:

Salmiakki Products I’ve Tried

Salmiakki Kiosk located in Helsinki, Finland
Salmiakki Kiosk located in Helsinki, Finland

Super Salmiakki: The cream of the Salmiakki crop. This potent form of Salmiakki is exceptionally salty and comes in candy form.

Mix Bag Salmiakki: All shapes and sizes of Salmiakki ranging from larger pieces that are more chewy to those that are smaller and harder.

Salmiakki in a small box: This is your best bet for when you get a craving driving, biking or walking as it comes in pocket-sized form.

Salmiakki Ice Cream: One of my personal favorites! This diamond shaped ice cream is the best of both worlds as you get the strong salmiakki taste in tandem with the sweet creaminess of ice cream.

Foreigners taste testing Salmiakki for the first time (priceless reactions)

Salmiakki Milk Chocolate: My absolute favorite. Imagine a delicious rich European milk chocolate bar infused with Salmiakki.

Salmiakki Liqueur (Finnish: Salmiakkikossu): essentially vodka with Salmiakki flavoring. Great for doing shots 😉

I highly recommend the local Finnish brand Fazer (pronounced properly as Fat-Zer) which is known for its creamy European style milk chocolate bars. Fazer does it all – Salmiakki candies, chocolate bars and ice cream bars – and in my opinion is consistently the best tasting of any brand I’ve yet to try for Salmiakki products.

Finnish Salmiakki candy spread out on the table is a popular salty liquorice snack for locals that is worth trying once as a foreigner
Finnish Salmiakki candy spread out on the table is a popular salty liquorice snack for locals that is worth trying once as a foreigner

Fascinating History Of Salmiakki

Salmiakki, also known as salmiak or ammonium chloride, is a quintessential part of Finnish culture with a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries. This unique candy’s name comes from the Latin “sal ammoniacus,” meaning the “salt of Ammon.” A peculiar name, you might think, but it leads us back to the origins of this substance in the temples of the ancient Egyptian god Ammon.

The substance we now know as salmiak was first discovered in the form of small crystals near the temple of Jupiter Ammon in what is now Libya. The Romans, who referred to these crystals as the “salt of Ammon,” used it for medicinal purposes. During the Middle Ages, the substance was rediscovered by alchemists in their search for the philosopher’s stone and was named “sal ammoniac.” However, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries that ammonium chloride began to be produced on a larger scale, primarily for use in dry cell batteries and as a cough suppressant.

The Salty Love of Northern Europe

Turning our attention to Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Finland, we find the region’s unique love for all things salty. Salmiakki, in the context of this area’s cuisine, is a type of salty licorice flavored with ammonium chloride. The history of licorice, an ingredient in salmiakki, traces back to ancient times. It was used by Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks for its medicinal properties, mainly for treating stomach ailments and respiratory problems.

However, the journey of transforming this licorice into the distinctive candy known as salmiakki didn’t start until the 1930s. Licorice had been a popular candy in Finland and other parts of Europe for quite some time, but it wasn’t until companies like Fazer and Halva began to experiment with flavor profiles that the idea of adding ammonium chloride came about.

Salmiakki was initially marketed as a throat soother and cough medicine due to its main ingredient, ammonium chloride. Early salmiakki was usually sold in pharmacies, and people appreciated it for its health benefits. As time went on, the potential for salmiakki as a sweet treat began to be explored, leading to its current status as a beloved candy in Finland and other Nordic countries.

During the 1970s, salmiakki became hugely popular in Finland. Fazer, a leading confectionery company, had been producing salmiakki candies since the 1930s. However, the 70s marked the introduction of Salmiakki Fazer, a diamond-shaped candy that soon became a household name in Finland. It was during this period that the use of ammonium chloride in confectionery expanded, and new varieties of salmiakki sweets emerged, such as pastilles, chocolates, and ice cream.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Salmiakki: A Cultural Phenomenon

Over the years, salmiakki has become a cultural phenomenon in Finland and other Nordic countries. Its strong, salty taste, while initially a deterrent for some, has led to its iconic status among traditional Finnish sweets. While the flavor profile might be intense for the uninitiated, its popularity among the Finns is undeniable, leading to salmiakki being used in various forms of confectionery and even alcoholic beverages, such as the notorious Salmiakkikossu.

The presence of salmiakki extended beyond Finland’s borders and became popular in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands. Each country has its unique versions of salmiakki, and it’s common to see a variety of products beyond candy, such as salmiakki ice cream, liqueur, and even salmiakki flavored potato chips.

Salmiakki has also sparked controversy over the years. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the European Union sought to ban the candy due to its ammonium chloride content. This proposed ban triggered a strong reaction from the Finnish public, leading to the so-called “Salmiakki War.” The EU eventually allowed the production and consumption of salmiakki to continue, acknowledging its cultural significance in the region.

Modern Day Celebrations and Recognition

In recent years, salmiakki has been used in food festivals and competitions, celebrating the unique flavor and cultural importance of this peculiar candy. There’s even a Salmiakki Society in Finland dedicated to promoting and appreciating this distinct Finnish delicacy.

From its humble beginnings as a cough suppressant to its current status as a cultural icon, the history of salmiakki is a testament to Finland’s innovative spirit and love for unique flavors. The journey of salmiakki through centuries and cultures is as fascinating as its flavor is bold, and it will continue to be a significant part of Finnish identity for years to come.

Salmiakki Koskenkorva is a Finnish liquor drink that you can try in Finland
Salmiakki Koskenkorva is a Finnish liquor drink that you can try in Finland

What Else Can You Try With Salmiakki?

  1. Salmiakki candy – a salty black licorice candy that is popular in Finland.
  2. Salmiakki chocolate – a chocolate bar with a salty and slightly bitter taste, similar to dark chocolate.
  3. Salmiakki ice cream – a creamy ice cream with a salty licorice flavor.
  4. Salmiakki cake – a cake flavored with salmiakki, often topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.
  5. Salmiakki liqueur – a strong alcoholic drink with a salty licorice flavor.
  6. Salmiakki vodka – a type of vodka that is flavored with salmiakki.
  7. Salmiakki gin – a type of gin that is flavored with salmiakki.
  8. Salmiakki beer – a type of beer with a salty and slightly bitter flavor.
  9. Salmiakki soda – a soft drink with a salty and sweet taste.
  10. Salmiakki chips – potato chips flavored with salmiakki.
  11. Salmiakki popcorn – popcorn with a salty licorice flavor.
  12. Salmiakki peanuts – roasted peanuts with a salty licorice coating.
  13. Salmiakki licorice – a type of licorice candy with a salty flavor.
  14. Salmiakki mints – small, round mints with a salty and refreshing taste.
  15. Salmiakki gum – chewing gum with a salty and slightly bitter flavor.
Salty liquorice candy along with the powder used to create the product
Salty liquorice candy along with the powder used to create the product

Salty Liquorice To Try In Northern Europe Aside From Salmiakki

Northern Europe’s love for salty liquorice, or ‘salmiak,’ extends well beyond Finland’s famous salmiakki. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, as well as the Netherlands, also have a penchant for this distinctive treat. Below are some examples of unique and flavorful salty liquorices that you should try if you find yourself in Northern Europe.

1. Djungelvrål (Sweden)

Djungelvrål, or “Jungle Roar,” is a popular salty liquorice candy in Sweden. Produced by the Malaco company, these small, black, monkey-shaped sweets pack a potent punch of salty flavour thanks to the salmiak powder they’re coated in. Although they can be an acquired taste for some, Djungelvrål has an enthusiastic following among lovers of salty liquorice in Sweden and beyond. They’re a must-try for anyone wishing to explore the vast landscape of Scandinavian salty liquorice.

2. Tyrkisk Peber (Denmark)

Tyrkisk Peber, meaning “Turkish Pepper,” is a Danish product that has also found its way into other Nordic countries. Produced by Fazer, a Finnish confectionery company, these candies are famous for their strong, fiery flavour. Inside a hard shell of salty liquorice, there’s a blend of salmiak and hot pepper powder, creating a spicy, salty, and sweet combination that’s sure to leave an impression. The candy’s name is derived from the historic association of liquorice with Turkey, one of the countries where the liquorice root was originally harvested.

3. Lakrisal (Sweden)

Another beloved product from the Malaco company, Lakrisal, is a type of salty liquorice candy that comes in the form of small, compact discs. This candy has a softer texture compared to some other types of liquorice, and its shape and size make it perfect for casual snacking. Lakrisal is also free of gelatin and fat, making it a popular choice for those with dietary restrictions.

4. Salt Sild (Denmark)

Salt Sild, or “salty herring” in Danish, is a popular candy that truly embodies Denmark’s love for salty liquorice. These small, fish-shaped candies are generously coated with a layer of salmiak salt, providing a robust flavour. Manufactured by Toms, a Danish chocolate and candy company, Salt Sild is a favourite among Danes and has been a traditional treat for decades.

5. Dubbel Zout (The Netherlands)

Moving from Scandinavia to the Netherlands, one salty liquorice product stands out: Dubbel Zout, or “double salt.” Produced by DZ, these disc-shaped candies are not for the faint of heart; they’re known for their extremely strong salty liquorice flavour. Dubbel Zout is a favourite among those who appreciate a robust, intense flavour in their candy.

6. Lakrisbåtar (Sweden)

Literally translating to “liquorice boats,” Lakrisbåtar is a soft, salty-sweet liquorice candy shaped like small boats. Manufactured by Grahn’s Konfektyr, a Swedish company that specializes in liquorice products, these candies are loved for their fun shape and balanced flavour profile, making them a more accessible introduction to the world of salty liquorice.

7. BonBon Salte Fisk (Denmark)

BonBon’s Salte Fisk, or “salty fish,” is another Danish candy that showcases the country’s affection for herring-shaped liquorice candies. With a chewy texture and strong salmiak flavour, Salte Fisk is sure to please fans of salty liquorice.

8. Zwart Wit Zout (The Netherlands)

This Dutch treat, whose name translates to “Black White Salt,” is a hard salty liquorice candy with a salmiak powder center. Zwart Wit Zout is manufactured by several Dutch companies and has a unique, layered taste experience that starts with a hard exterior and ends with a powdery, salty-sweet interior.

Each of these candies has its unique twist on the salty liquorice theme, providing an array of flavours and experiences for those who are willing to explore this distinctive branch of Northern European cuisine. Whether you’re a seasoned salty liquorice lover or a curious newcomer, there’s no shortage of interesting and delicious treats to discover.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

If You Like Salmiakki Hear Other Other Finnish Snacks To Try!

Hey there! If you’re a fan of salmiakki and looking for some other Finnish treats to try, I’ve got a few recommendations for you:

Collection of Finnish snacks with each snack visually distinct and recognizable, capturing the variety and appeal of these Finnish treats. A tempting and attractive display of popular Finnish delicacies

  1. Fazer Mignon Chocolate Eggs – These chocolate eggs are filled with a variety of creamy flavors, including salmiakki. They’re a popular Easter treat in Finland and definitely worth a try.
  2. Fazer Tyrkisk Peber – This candy is similar to salmiakki, but it also has a spicy kick from the addition of chili pepper. If you’re into spicy and salty flavors, this candy is definitely worth a taste.
  3. Panda Soft Licorice – This brand of Finnish licorice comes in a variety of flavors, including salmiakki. It’s got a softer texture than traditional salmiakki candy, which some people prefer.
  4. Fazer Liqueur Fills – These are chocolate candies filled with a variety of liqueur flavors, including salmiakki liqueur. They’re a popular treat for adults, so be sure to indulge responsibly!
  5. Halva Finnish Licorice – This licorice candy has a sweeter taste than traditional salmiakki, but it still has a salty edge. It comes in a variety of flavors, including strawberry and raspberry, so you can mix things up a bit.
  6. Fazer Marianne – These are chocolate-covered mint candies that are popular in Finland. They have a crunchy center and a refreshing mint flavor.
  7. Sisu Pastilles – These are small, hard candies with a strong licorice flavor. They’re made with natural flavors and are perfect for freshening your breath.

A variety of delicious Finnish snacks highlighting a different snack, capturing their unique characteristics and flavors

More Delicious Finnish Snacks

  1. Fazer Dumle – These are soft, chewy toffee candies covered in milk chocolate. They’re a popular treat in Finland and come in a variety of flavors, including licorice and coffee.
  2. Fazer Geisha – These are chocolate-covered hazelnut truffles that are incredibly creamy and delicious. They’re one of Finland’s most popular candy exports.
  3. Salmiakki Koskenkorva – This is a popular Finnish liqueur made with salmiakki (salty licorice) flavoring. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re a fan of salmiakki, it’s worth a try!
  4. Kismet – This is a popular Finnish candy bar made with milk chocolate, toffee, and hazelnuts. It’s chewy, crunchy, and delicious.
  5. Fazer Pihlaja – This is a candy bar made with dark chocolate and pihlaja berries (also known as rowanberries). It has a slightly tart flavor that pairs well with the dark chocolate.
  6. Panda Raspberry Licorice – If you’re not a fan of the strong licorice flavor of traditional salmiakki candy, Panda Raspberry Licorice might be more your speed. It’s a soft and chewy candy with a sweet raspberry flavor.
  7. Tupla – This is a classic Finnish candy bar made with milk chocolate, toffee, and almonds. It’s been around since the 1960s and is still popular today.
  8. Fazer Skolekridt – These are chalk-shaped candies with a crunchy shell and a soft licorice filling. They’re a fun and unique treat to try.

You should be able to find these treats in Finland, but if you’re not in the country, some specialty stores might carry them. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Essence of Finnish Vodka Spirits: What is Salmiakki Koskenkorva?

Salmiakki Koskenkorva, a quintessential Finnish concoction, embodies the unique and bold spirit of Finland’s cultural and gastronomic heritage. This remarkable drink merges the potent, earthy flavors of salmiakki – a popular Finnish licorice – with the crisp, clear essence of Koskenkorva vodka, a staple in Finnish bars and homes.

Smiling Finnish Lady Serving Salmiakki Koskenkorva to us including Nomadic Samuel and That Backpacker in Finland
Smiling Finnish Lady Serving Salmiakki Koskenkorva to us including Nomadic Samuel and That Backpacker in Finland

Koskenkorva: The Spirit of Finnish Fields

In the heart of Finland, where the winter nights are long and the summer days are endless, there exists a tradition of crafting spirits that reflect the robust character of this Nordic nation. Koskenkorva, the vodka, takes its name from a small village, becoming synonymous with Finnish ingenuity and purity. Distilled from the finest barley, it captures the essence of the unspoiled Finnish fields.

Salmiakki: A Taste of Finnish Tradition

Then, there’s salmiakki. More than just a candy, salmiakki is an acquired taste, a rite of passage for anyone delving into Finnish culture. Made from ammonium chloride, it possesses a salty, sharp tang that contrasts with the sweetness typically associated with licorice. It’s an integral part of Finnish identity, a flavor that evokes memories and emotions.

A Bold Fusion: The Creation of Salmiakki Koskenkorva

The fusion of these two elements – Koskenkorva vodka and salmiakki – results in Salmiakki Koskenkorva, a drink that is bold, unapologetic, and deeply rooted in the Finnish ethos. It’s not just a beverage; it’s a cultural experience. The dark, almost mystical appearance of Salmiakki Koskenkorva is reminiscent of the Finnish winter nights, while its flavor is as complex as the Finnish landscape itself.

Salmiakki Koskenkorva in shot glasses on a tray in Finland that Nomadic Samuel tried
Salmiakki Koskenkorva in shot glasses on a tray in Finland that Nomadic Samuel tried

The Palate’s Adventure: Tasting Salmiakki Koskenkorva

To the uninitiated, the first sip of Salmiakki Koskenkorva can be a surprising jolt to the palate. The initial hit of salmiakki’s salty bitterness swiftly melds with the smooth, subtle warmth of the vodka, creating a harmonious blend that warms the soul. It’s a drink that demands savoring, each sip revealing new layers of flavor and complexity.

A Symbol of Finnish Resilience and Camaraderie

In Finland, Salmiakki Koskenkorva is more than just a drink; it’s a symbol of camaraderie and resilience. Often enjoyed in social settings, it brings people together, a shared experience that transcends language and background. Whether it’s savored during the dark, snowy winters or the bright, endless summer evenings, it’s a testament to the Finnish spirit – enduring, bold, and unyielding.

Immersing in Finnish Culture: The Ritual of Salmiakki Koskenkorva

For travelers seeking to immerse themselves in Finnish culture, sampling Salmiakki Koskenkorva is a must. It’s not merely about tasting a local beverage; it’s about partaking in a tradition that spans generations, a ritual that captures the essence of Finland. In each bottle of Salmiakki Koskenkorva lies the heart of Finland – its land, its people, and its enduring spirit.

Salmiakki assorted candy spilling out of a jar
Salmiakki assorted candy spilling out of a jar

An Ode To This Finnish Delight

Salmiakki, oh salmiakki, Some love you, some think you’re wacky. Your salty taste is quite unique, Some people think you’re quite a treat.

But others, oh they cannot stand, The taste of salt in candy land. To them you’re just a bitter pill, A flavor that they cannot thrill.

But those who love you, they’ll defend, Their favorite candy ’til the end. They’ll pop you in their mouths with glee, And savor every salty spree.

So salmiakki, you polarize, Some people love you, others despise. But no matter where you stand on taste, You’ll always have a special place.

In Finland, you’re a national treat, A candy that just can’t be beat. So love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure, Salmiakki, you’re quite the allure.

Capturing the foreigner's unusual love for Finnish black salty licorice, salmiakki with a piece in his mouth

Now here is the part I’m most curious about – do you like licorice? Have you tried Salmiakki before? Would you eat it? On a dare? Let me know about your experiences in the comment section below.

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  1. says: Nancy Rojas

    Hi Audrey and Sam:

    Nice to meet you. I’m Nancy, I’m Mexican and just tried salmiakki for the first time! It was a great experience ! I’ve tasted the salmiakki mix of Fazer and It was great (for me). I loved the coin-shaped ones, very chewy and takes a while to dissolve in your mouth! It’s great because you feel the liquorice flavor!

    If you go to Denmark someday, you should try Heksehyl haxvral, it’s awesome too! I loved those !

  2. says: Svetlana

    Head brought to Finland such an unusual black candy Salmiakki. It was strongly udivline , to taste nothing like the way . In general, such as funny

  3. says: Aaron

    I am a licorice lover but have never heard of this until this post. The salmiakki icecream sounds very tasty indeed, something I will want to try now upon my travels to Europe.

  4. says: Juhani

    Just one minor correction. Although salmiakki is also known as “salty liquorice”, it’s not actually a kind of liquorice. Salmiakki is ammonium chloride. It’s made by mixing ammonia with hydrochloric acid. (Incidentally, the only chemistry experiment I remember from my school days in Finland involved mixing ammonia and hydrochloric acid and tasting the resulting white powder.)

    1. says: Jh

      Salmiakki candies, etc. are often flavored with real licorice root. It is not like American or Australia licorice but many salmiakki candies have a similar licorice flavor. There are almost an infinite variety in northern Europe; hard, soft, chewy, small, big shapes, etc.. If you are an adventurous eater and you like weird tastes then salmiakki is something you should try.

  5. says: Michelle

    Next time you desire a salmiakki, maybe you should stop by site. They have worldwide food shipped directly to you in a reasonable price. And if you don’t find it there, you can just request for it and a potential seller will send it to you, easy as that 🙂

  6. says: Juha

    Hi Samuel,

    I love too salmiakki and I can buy it almoust everyday because I live in Finland. Salmiakki is the best candy in the world.

    And i love your videos from Helsinki. (Helsinki is my home city)

  7. says: Hanna

    Mmmm, salmiakki! Reading this post is pure torture for me, because I’m Finnish but living far away from these lovely candy’s. Why cant they sell proper candy here in Ecuador 🙁

      1. says: Jh

        It’s starting to become available in major supermarkets in the US. I recently saw a German brand of salty cats in a supermarket in the international section. You can certainly buy them online too.

  8. I never used to like licorice except for one brand from a sweet store in Australia (Darrell Lea – I am not sure if this store is a worldwide chain or just in Australia). It was so soft and the taste was not too overpowering.

    I am going to have to get in on the salmiakki action! Perhaps I won’t like it…but with different types to try and everything, there is only one way to find out!

  9. says: todd

    Thanks for sharing. When I am in Finland, I definitely have to try Salmiakki. Finland is a beautiful country and look forward to visiting.

  10. says: Carmen

    This seems like it is to the Finnish what vegemite is to Australians! And seeing as I’m always trying to shove Vegemite down people’s gobs, I better try this when I go to Finland 🙂

  11. says: Jani Lindroos

    Hello, greetings from Turku Finland. Just found Finland videos of yours and have a little “story” for unusual love of Salmiakki. I think its a kind of national treat for us finns, altough they eat those also in other nordic countries but in Finland salmiakki is huge, but for the “story”…

    My daughter, she is under two years old, and she loves the Salmiakki almost as much as her dad (me). Last friday she found my box of salmiakkis, and brought that to me and said “auttaa” (means help in finnish) and wanted me to open it. Okay, we got two or three bites, when i said no more and put the box away. After she realized that salmiakkis were that high on a shelf she could not reach them she cried and cried like 20 minutes until she calmed down 😀

    So im raising a little salmiakki lover here…


    p.s. i got one of my first drunks with salmiakkikossu as a teenager…

  12. says: Natasha Amar

    I hate liquorice. The first time I tried it I was offered some by a colleague. I put it in my mouth and I didn’t know what hit me. I had to work really hard to keep it in there, nod my head politely, say thanks and walk out of the office to the bin in the corridor so I could spit it out.
    Salty liquorice sounds even worse, and the ice cream too! I’d probably react like the people in the video.

  13. Once in Chile, I was on night-shift at the telescope with a colleague from Belgium. I told them I’d be in Europe for a meeting in two weeks, and I was passing through southern Scandinavia after the conference. She told me to head into every 7-11 or convenience store in Stockholm and København to look for specific salt licorice. I answered the call, and upon return to Chile, I tried some: very different and definitely, an acquired taste 🙂

  14. Thanks for warming my Finnish heart 🙂

    My current favourite is the cheaper looking red bag Halva branded salmiakki mix. Yes, there are two competing mixes from the same company and the crummier looking is definitely better. A smooth blend where maybe only the short sticks are a bit out of place.

    Need me to send you a bag? 😉

  15. says: Leigh

    I haven’t been to Finland yet (but you’re making me want to visit, for sure). I have had the Icelandic version of this strong licorice, and I, too, adore it. I loved it with chocolate, and paired with ice cream sounds amazing.

    I suspect our love for it could be partly medicinal. Maybe our bodies need whatever alkaloids are in the licorice, and I believe some versions have anise as well.

    Whatever the case, I am now craving licorice with chocolate along with a trip to the north of Europe.

    1. says: Darren

      What is it called in Stefania? I have family in the Netherlands and remember trying a liquorice type sugar covered sweet. I cannot remember the name and it was a long time ago when I tried it.

      1. says: Stefania


        Dropjes …. is the general name, but you have many different types. ‘Zoute drop’ is very salty. ‘ Engelse drop’ is more sweeter with different types and colours. ‘Muntdrop’ are coins. ‘ Dubbelzout’ is double salted. These are just a few, but there are many more.