Americans love us some candy. We celebrate our holidays with a heavy dose — treats on Halloween, chocolate-filled advent calendars and candy canes at Christmas, and bunnies and eggs full of sugar instead of protein pon Easter. We pride ourselves on our confectionary game with amazing chocolate shops in every state and delicious sugar treats in all our stores. However, there is one country that beats the United States completely in its love for candy: Sweden.
A 2016 study done by Jordbruksverket, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, and featured in a recent article by The New Yorker, found that Sweden has the highest candy consumption per capita in the world — about 35 pounds per person per year. That means that the average Swede eats over half a pound of candy every week.
Just like its love of the tradition of fika, Sweden has a strong candy culture. “Lördagsgodis” is a Swedish word that means “Saturday candy.” The thinking in Sweden is that, in order to limit candy consumption, they would dedicate an entire day every week to eating candy, so that people would eat candy only once a week rather than daily. As a result, that one day is chock-full of sweet treats. Every Saturday, corner stores and supermarkets have bins filled with mixed candies for people to choose from. This tradition isn’t just limited to children — adults of all ages join in on the sweet fun and indulge their sweet tooth every week as well.
As fun as this tradition may sound, it has surprisingly disturbing origins. During the 1940s, the Swedish government partnered up with multiple candy corporations for an experiment meant to understand the damage that can be done by eating too much candy and determine how much candy is safe for consumption. The problematic part of this experiment, however, was that it was done on the severely disabled patients of a mental institution. In the end, researchers concluded that too much candy would result in cavities, and so the tradition of lördagsgodis was born.
Despite the dark start of this tradition and, you know, all the cavities, this is still something we’d love to do here in the United States, especially with our favorite underrated candy bars.