Foreigner who loves Salmiakki
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. 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.
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.
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.
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:
Super Salmiakki: The cream of the Salmiakki crop. This potent form of Salmiakki is exceptionally salty and comes in candy form.
Salmiakki Mix Bag: 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.
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.