Around this time of year there’s a story which will be updated and recycled at most news sites. It’s the “here are the different candies which are most popular, state by state” story, and it’s recycled for a reason… everyone enjoys a little bit of fluff combined with a chance to see how much their views match their neighbors’.
This is the Night Owl, though. Let’s go out of the states for a moment and visit, instead, another country to see what’s most popular there. The country? Finland. The candy? Salmiakki.
Why Salmiakki? Because it’s a candy whose flavor profile is devoted to ammonium chloride.
Sure, that chemical is used in industrial fertilizer, and as an expectorant in cough medicine, and as a diuretic for people with excessive swelling to parts of their body, and as a tool to aid in metal etching… but it also has a taste akin to very salty black licorice.
“Very salty black licorice” might not seem like an ideal candy flavor… and if it doesn’t, you’re probably not Finnish. As mentioned before, it’s the top-selling style of candy in the country, beating out things like the fruit-flavored gummis popular in their neighbor, Sweden.
It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s used to flavor some vodka and brandy drinks, in the same way that citrus and pepper is used in some vodkas sold in the United States.
Here’s a minor Youtube celebrity trying Salmiakki vodka for the first time. For those who just want to go straight to the flavor train wreck, he starts focusing on that spirit at 5:54 in the video.
Oh, and it does have one other effect, beyond any reactions to the flavor. For people with a few existing alkaloid-based issues… such as those who are dehydrated, or have been taking chewable antacids, or have cystic fibrosis… it can trigger immediate and catastrophic kidney failure.
Those wacky Finns.
Question of the night: What’s your go-to snack candy?