Fun fact about me: I had four different Swedish au pairs when I was little. Eating Swedish Fish while listening to Ace of Base was my every day. Apparently I even spoke some Swedish. So basically I was conditioned to be obsessed with Sweden (and really, the whole of Scandinavia) from a young age.
Alright, so I might be a little biased. But I think Sweden is pretty great. And I’m actually super jealous of people who have EU citizenship and could totally just get up and more there if they wanted to (open borders, say whaa??) I wanted to create a list along the lines of “the 10 best things to come from Sweden,” but 1) I feel like that’s too decisive, and 2) I didn’t want it to seem like I was defining. So. With that said, here are some of my favorite things that just-so-happen to be Swedish.
Well...duh Swedish Fish are Swedish haha. But no, I’m not talking about the red Swedish Fish that come in the yellow plastic bags at the grocery stores here in the U.S. (granted, those are great as well.) Those are actually an Americanized version of the fish candy you’ll find in Sweden. I’m talking about the pastel colored, fish-shaped wine gums called pastellfiskar—literally, “pale colored fish”—and you’ll find them in the bulk candy section at many-a-grocery store in Sweden. If you love Swedish Fish, you’ll love pastellfiskar even more. They have a slightly more delicate taste than the Swedish Fish we’re used to, and it’s basically impossible to get sick of them.
Pronounced in Swedish: ee-kay-UH. For decades now, IKEA has provided a solution to the predicament of having just moved into a new apartment and needing to furnish it all at once. It thrives on a business model where young adults and families alike will flock to its stores to fulfill all of their home furnishing needs in one fell swoop, despite the fact that these stores are located in less-than-convenient locations. If you’ve ever gone away to college, you can probably thank IKEA for at least one memory of a broken chair or furniture assembling pizza party.
Speaking of stores that help you save sweet munz, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is another worldwide phenomenon that actually originated in Sweden. It’s actually the world’s largest clothing retailer in terms of annual revenue—beating out the likes of Zara and Gap, Inc.—and it hosts over 200 retail stores in the U.S. alone. H&M operates on the “fast fashion” model and seeks to replicate high fashion with its apparel, and it has collaborated with more than a few big-name designers on its clothings lines, as well.
Hövding Bicycle Helmet
Do you remember this video from a few years back about an “invisible” bicycle helmet developed by two young Swedish female students? The helmet itself is pretty ingenious, as it essentially functions as an airbag for your head, maintaining the appearance of a thick neck scarf only until it detects an accident—at which point the helmet instantaneously inflates. The helmet has some other pretty nifty features as well, such as a black box for more serious accidents and easy charging through a computer using a USB cable.
Guys...this girl is phenomenal. What an artist. Lykke Li is an indie pop singer from Sweden. There are very few albums where I truly can’t choose which track is my fave, but her 2014 album I Never Learn is one of them. Get out some sweet headphones right after reading this and listen to it all the way through.
Ha, so this one is kinda broad, but I think people often forget about the beauty of Swedish cars. I’m no car connoisseur, but I’ve always had a place in my heart for Volvos in particular. (I actually even drove around the Volvo headquarters near Göteborg once when I was in Sweden.) Meanwhile, the now-defunct Saab reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s car of choice in Seinfeld (rest in peace, Saab). And then there are cars like the new “underground” Koenigsegg One:1 supercar, which you can read more about here if you like.