Icelanders have always had a thing for licorice. To many travellers’ surprise, many sweets contain some licorice. We don’t really know why except that it’s just so good! A few decades ago, foreign sweets were unavailable due to import restrictions, which explains why many of our sweet treats are local products.
Opal and Tópas – as pills or a shot!
So to start, we have Opal and Topas. It’s a rubber-like licorice pill, and for some reason, we usually have a pack in our cars, like gum and sunglasses. Topas and Opal schnapps is also available.
We used to make it ourselves by putting Opal or Topas pills in vodka and letting it stand for a few days to get the flavour in. Those were the days – now we can buy it in liquor stores.
Licorice with chocolate or marzipan.. or both!
Draumur (Dream) is a chocolate bar with two licorice straws in the middle. Appolo licorice is soft and comes in many shapes and sizes but mostly with marzipan. Djúpur is white snowballs filled with chocolate and licorice in the middle. Careful, they are dangerously addictive. Did we mention that we also love licorice with pepper? You can get Djúpur with pepper. It’s like entering a blackout. You only remember having a few when the bag is finished. Appolo also has marzipan filled licorice with pepper.
Last but not least, one of our favourite treats is Þristur (Three (like in cards)). It’s a fudge-kind of chocolate, with small pieces of licorice inside and then covered in hard chocolate. It was voted the all-time favourite among Icelanders. If you join our Reykjavik Food Lovers tour, you’ll get a taste of some of those licorice based sweets.
Not everything has licorice!
Local sweets are such a big part of our eating habits. Icelanders living abroad get sent candy wherever they live by family members or friends to avoid getting too homesick. True story.
You’re not entirely out of luck if you really don’t like licorice. Have a Hraun, a lava-shaped chocolate biscuit, chocolate-covered raisins (also come with pepper flavour), or möndlur, almond-shaped caramels.
You can order your Icelandic sweets here.