Chocolate-covered licorice – International Crisis Averted!

Could chocolate-covered licorice be the premise for an International Crisis? Sillier things have been known to happen.

Icelanders generally protect their cultural heritage, and we can be pretty pedantic. The Icelandic horse is a horse, not a pony. Our hot dogs are the best. Some swear by fermented sharks, and so on.

We get kicked into overdrive when people maintain misconceptions about our country and culture.

This isn’t even a new thing. In the late-16th century, one of Iceland’s foremost intellectuals at the time, Arngrímur Jónsson the learned, published a book where he criticised the works of numerous authors who had written misguided (and funny) things about Iceland and its people.

But that’s a story for another time. This blog is about the newest incident.

The newest misconception almost started an international incident between Denmark and Iceland. Icelanders have a somewhat complicated relationship with Denmark after centuries of the latter country ruling over Iceland. It is mostly in jest, though. However, being a pedantic nation, we need things to be proper and correct.

Licorice-gate?

The Danish candy-maker Johan Bülow claimed that he had invented chocolate-covered licorice. Yes, you read that right! The quintessential Icelandic candy, he claimed he created in 2009. Their promotional text said: “In 2009, with production manager Tage, Johan developed the idea of chocolate coated licorice. They were told it was impossible. But the popular product A soon saw the light of day.”

This is obviously not correct.

What Happened Next?

An Icelander living in Denmark contacted the company telling them that Icelanders had been doing this for decades so that they couldn’t have possibly created this combination. The company said they would change their advertisements, but they didn’t.

The CEO of one of Iceland’s biggest candy manufacturing companies, Freyja, decided to give his two cents. Or five. Icelanders had been eating chocolate-covered licorice for decades.

Teenagers in 1960 likely began the trend. They bought a licorice roll and a chocolate bar, wrapped the licorice around it, and ate it. Then in 1984, Freyja introduced the chocolate bar Draumur (Dream). It is chocolate covering one or two licorice straws (depending on the size of the bar) – we recommend you try it; it is terrific. And since then, many different versions of chocolate and licorice have seen the light of day.
So, obviously, Icelanders have been doing this for quite some time.

It turned out that Johan Bürlow originally got the idea for his candy when he tasted the Icelandic Djúpur, which are small chocolate-covered licorice balls. They were introduced in 2002.

International Crisis Brewing

And thus, it blew up in Iceland. After the CEO of Freyja came on record to refute the Danish company’s claims, Lakrids by Bürlow tweeted that Icelanders indeed were the first to do this and would change their marketing material. However, one Icelander asked Icelandic President Guðni Th Jóhannesson on Twitter to give his opinion.

It’s something The President had done before when he famously said that pineapple on pizza was an abomination and should be banned. Just to be clear, he was talking to children, and he was joking. He added he didn’t want the power to do something like that.

However, lo and behold. The President actually did answer on Twitter.

Being Pedantic Sometimes Pays Off

The Icelandic President said: “Chocolate-coated licorice is as Icelandic as glaciers, elves, volcanoes, and waterfalls. Nothing Danish there, with all due respect. Try instead putting chocolate on your beloved smørrebrød or stegt flæsk, dear friends in Denmark. That could be something.”

This prompted Johan Bülow to answer with a video, where he said: “I want to announce that we do not take credit for chocolate-covered licorice. And to be completely honest, I was heavily influenced by Icelandic sweets in the beginning. I understand that a badly worded sentence on our website was contradictory. Iceland, thank you very much for being an inspiration in our mission, which is to make the world love licorice, and to the President: If you come to Copenhagen, you are more than welcome to come to our factory and taste all the different combinations that we create Have a good time, bye, bye!”

International Crisis averted… for now!

Have you tried the Icelandic chocolate-covered licorice? We obviously love it as it is a combination found in a significant portion of Icelandic candy.

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