Friday, April 25, 2014

V ~ Vättern: Candy Canes in Gränna #atozchallenge

All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.


Today's post is sort of a continuation of G ~ Göta Kanal in that it tells of another summer vacation favorite, also on one of Sweden's great lakes, this one Vättern, the smaller of the two.

For perspective, here's Sweden:

Göteborg is on the West Coast, and that big lake is Vänern, where I told you about Sjötorp and the canal, and my carefree visits there.  The skinny lake you see in the middle of Sweden, to the east of Vänern, is Vättern, where there's a tiny, historic town of Gränna, on the east side.

It's too small to see unless I give you a really grainy map and you go to that website and then you can navigate it like any google map, but I think for your time and interest, it's enough to know that it's on the lake, right?

As I was writing this, it was fun reading the history of the town, which I didn't give one hoot about when I was a child.  I was interested in it's claim to fame: the homemade, secret recipe, amazingly yummy and chewy, not rock hard candy canes, called polkagrisar in Swedish.  (If you translate that word, you get polka, the dance, and pigs.)

The main website I used for my research admitted that the origin of the name is unknown.  Maybe there was a vodka factory close by and one night...who knows ;-)

It takes years to learn how to make these properly because the proportion of the four ingredients varies daily due to temperature and humidity.  It's all done by hand, and by feel, and even the weight is done without weighing.  It's all still the old-fashioned way.

Nope, not me.  Just a cutie from the website.

So what's the cultural difference?  This isn't about that.  It's about still doing things the old-fashioned way, which I think it's wonderful that we still hold onto in both countries.  

There are lots of places in America where you can see them making taffy the old fashioned way.  I picked that as my example because ironically enough, this polkagris dough is pulled out in much the same manner.

So here's to summer vacations, homemade candy, and sweet memories.  What's your favorite childhood candy?  Is it homemade?

~Tina, who searched and searched for a picture of ME eating a polkagris but it looks like it's the one event of my childhood that Momarazzi missed ;-)

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: map of all of Sweden
Rest of photos from (you might want to translate it...)


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. we can still get Rock - usually with the town's name running through it in a circle .. dreadful for the teeth - but we as kids loved it ..

It looks similar, but seeing as it's made by hand and isn't rolled out of a factory .. makes it sound so good - freshly made with natural ingredients ...

Fun times - and those lakes and canals must bring back fantastic memories of childhood holidays ..

Cheers Hilary

Fil said...

I'm loving your articles about Sweden - definitely want to visit.

It reminded me of rock too like Hilary -still brings back childhood memories when I see it..

Fil at Fil's Place - Old Songs and Memories

Fil said...

I'm loving your articles about Sweden - definitely want to visit.

It reminded me of rock too like Hilary -still brings back childhood memories when I see it..

Fil at Fil's Place - Old Songs and Memories

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Along the coast here you'll still find candy made by hand.

Mason Canyon said...

Tina, it's amazing that they still do it the old fashion way. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to modernize them. The candy looks yummy

klahanie said...

Hey Tina,

Some dandy candy. And looking at those candies in the photo makes me think about Boxing Day Eve.

Plenty of traditional places doing things the old fashioned way in Britain. Hilary has made note of the fact you can still get "rock" here at mostly seaside towns.

It's good you get to wander down your Swedish memory lane. Would be nice if you moved back to Sweden or moved to that much peaceful nation directly above you, eh :)

Have a lovely, relaxed weekend, please and thank you.


JoJo said...

"I wrote Polkagrisar as a joke, but it's going out on all the packages like that..." Said the worker who first made them. lol

Fave candies when I was a kid? Pixie Stix, cinnamon fireballs, SweeTarts, smarties, basically anything cinnamon or sweet & sour. And it's the same now; I prefer that kind over chocolate.

Kathe W. said...

Love the Salt Water Taffy you can buy on the Oregon Coast in the small town of Cannon Beach. My favorite flavor is cinnamon! Yum.

Anonymous said...

I jumped over here from the comments on Sammy's blog (the "switched at birth" remark got me because I feel that way too!). I love your theme--some of my posts are along the same lines, except mine are about Poland. I love how much I'm learning during this Challenge!

Andrew Leon said...

If it's peppermint, my kids would never say no.

debi o'neille said...

I remember my grandmother had made homemade candy canes, but I was so long ago that I don't remember how she did it. I only remember eating them. :-)
It's nice to be following your blog. Just think – we're almost to the end of the alphabet.


That look great!
Now if I could Polka with a pig I might be able to produce some candy myself!

Jo said...

Alex is right, in Beaufort, NC, there is a place that makes handmade fudge and toffee. Gorgeous stuff. They also make salt water taffee in that area too. As for favourites as a kid, I don't remember, it was the war years after all. Today I am a chocoholic.

cleemckenzie said...

Old fashioned ways are always interesting to me. They may take more time, but that's part of the charm--taking time to create something in the same way as those who came before. Love the feeling of connecting with the past.

Comley Charlotte said...

Mum never let me have rock when i was little :(
Nice to meet and connect through atozchallenge.

Jocelyn Rish said...

I love that the recipe changes daily because of the conditions - that's both cool and I'm sure frustrating for the candy makers.

Even though I know it was processed crap, one of my favorites was Fun Dip. Hats off to the genius who thought of making a hardened stick of sugar for dipping into flavored, colored sugar!!

Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,

D Biswas said...

Sweden has always been an out of reach sort of place to me..a country I would like to visit but probably never will. Your posts bring Sweden to me, Tina, and it feels like a beautiful place, but like any other place, real and visitable!