When Ikea added a bulk candy section to their Swedish food store, I was both excited and perplexed. Why, of all things, would Ikea sell bulk candy? They’d long been supplying the world with Daim chocolate bars and other imported sweets, along with their ample selection of jams, syrups, coffee and meatballs. It’s largely been a mini grab-and-go convenience store of packaged goods that lives a double life as a global cultural outpost for Swedish food stapes. What’s the connection with the other Swedish products? Was there some method to their handsome Scandinavian madness?
It turns out there’s a very unusual reason for this curious addition that Swedes would instantly appreciate, but that the rest of us likely haven’t a clue about.
Fact: Sweden has a longstanding tradition of sweet appreciation that involves eating a whole bunch of yummy bulk candy on Saturdays. Crazier still, there’s even a name for this phenomenon: Lordagsgodis. In Sweden, they apparently go easy on the candy during six days of the week, then go nuts on Saturday.
The Ikea version of Lordagsgodis is a giant wall of bulk candy bins on the far end of the Ikea Swedish food store. The selection is sizable, with a little something for every candy-lover. Cola bottles? Yup. Chunks of waxy chocolate fudge? You bet. (Also: What??) Sour raspberry drops? You know it.
The process is simple. Grab a paper bag, browse the wall for anything that strikes your fancy, then scoop in however much you want of each one, knowing that it’ll be weighed at the end and priced accordingly. The idea is to mix-and-match your way to candy happiness. It’s not unlike hitting the bulk candy section at the local Macs or Circle K, but with a bit of a different selection. Because everything is priced at the same cost per weight, you don’t need to worry about filling separate bags or keeping tabs on how many of each size you’ve picked. Just load up your single paper bag to your heart’s content.
There’s legitimate joy in the exercise. As an adult, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasure of raiding a bulk candy section, of choosing whatever you feel like nibbling on that afternoon without having to grab multiple bags and put bin numbers on whatever you’re grabbing.
Some candies are familiar, while others are more quirky and/or alien. The sugar-covered strawberry gummies are large and satisfying, while the little cubes of chocolate and vanilla fudge are only so-so. Scandy (aka Swedish) Fish are a classic, as are jelly mice. For longtime Ikea candy fans, note that these don’t taste the same as the old Jelly Rats of yesteryear. Oh well.
Not everything tastes the freshest, and there are some left-field candies that some may love, but that I didn’t particularly enjoy. But learning is part of the process. Take little risks by adding something unfamiliar to your mix, then on your next visit you’ll know whether to load up or avoid it.
Is it a fantastic deal? Not really. But it’s fun. And for $5, you can buy a little paper bag of the sugary happiness of your choosing. That’s absolutely worth it.
Price: $2.29 for 100 grams at Ikea in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Not bad, but it’s easy to accidentally spend $8.
Availability: Ikea. Your location may or may not have a bulk candy bar.
Nutrition: It’s candy. Calories vary per type, but the bins have relevant nutritional info marked on them.
Verdict: I’m sold. It’s a nice little bit of whimsy at the end of a trip to Ikea. Especially on a Saturday.