The Fishy & Fruity History of Swedish Fish

in Candy Blog

Did you know Swedish Fish makes for the perfect fishing bait? 

Ok, so that hasn’t been proven by fishermen, but we like to think that some sea creatures crave a little extra sugar in their bait.

That being said, we know for a fact that Swedish Fish has caught the attention of candy lovers all over the world. The iconic fish-shaped candy has been a staple in candy stores and movie theaters for decades, which got us wondering, where did it even come from?

So we did some deep sea diving to find out more about Swedish Fish and its origin story.

Check it out! 

The Sweet History of Swedish Fish Candy 

Swedish Fish Package Candy

Who invented Swedish Fish?

Swedish Fish was first developed in the 1950’s by the Swedish confectionery company, Malaco.

The idea for the sea creature snack came from the widely popular fish dish “Surströmming” or “sour herring”—a pickled delight that will turn your taste buds upside down. It’s so sour in fact that major airlines like Air France, British Air, and Finnair banned it from in-flight options due to the overwhelming stench as well as its potential to explode in high pressure cabins, creating a safety hazard for patrons.

Malaco makes a variety of confectionery products, all of which are what most would consider gummi candy. Brio, a caramel candy bite, is one of its most popular products and can be found in candy stores across Sweden and Denmark. The brand also makes a complimentary product very similar to Swedish Fish called Pim Pim, a jelly-like raspberry candy that comes in the shape of a boat—fitting for a candy company that likes to sell fish.

As Swedish Fish grew in popularity amongst consumers in Sweden and neighboring countries the brand decided to enter into the North American market with its iconic product. With the help of American production company Cadbury Adams, Swedish Fish came to North American shores around the early 1960’s.

The fruity treat was an immediate hit amongst candy connoisseurs and quickly became a go-to in brick-and-mortar candy shops, movie theaters, and convenience stores.

Swedish Fish Mixed Variety

What’s the difference between Swedish Fish in Sweden and the U.S.?

Here’s the thing, if you’re in Sweden chances are you won’t find the colorful package of Swedish Fish that you love here in the States.

In most instances Swedish fish is sold as a “pick and mix” similar to that of barrel candy you would find here. The product is called "pastellfiskar", literally "pastel fish" and comes in a variety of colors including red, yellow, green, and orange. Malaco also makes another version of the snack that is flavored Salmiak–a salty licorice combination that imitates the pickled herring we mentioned earlier. It comes in a deep blackish color and is stamped with the Malaco name across the body.

In the United States, we’ve become very familiar with the bright yellow and blue packaging that Swedish fish is known for. The product tastes more like a cherry and raspberry combination similar to that of a jelly bean, and its recipe is different from its Swedish counterpart.

The U.S. version of Swedish fish consists of invert sugar—a mixture of glucose and fructose, modified cornstarch for shape, and carnauba wax that gives the product its shiny coating and retained moisture. That’s why every bite of a Swedish fish is filled with a juicy flavor that feels fresh.

As Swedish Fish lovers grew in North America, the brand started to produce additional flavors like yellow (lemon flavor), green (lime flavor), purple (grape flavor), and orange (orange). All of these flavors have been up for debate when it comes to whether or not the flavor truly matches the color, but we can all agree that they’re incredibly tasty.

Swedish Fish x Oreo Collaboration

Swedish Fish Collaborates With Other Sweet Treats

Since its trip across the ocean, Swedish Fish has continued to hold its ground as one of the most popular gummi candies in the U.S. Market. So much so that in 2009, an Italian ice company by the name of Rita’s started making Swedish Fish flavored Italian ice—a smash hit amongst sugar lovers.

Fast forward to 2013 and the brand partnered with the massive gum company, Trident, to make a layered gum that consisted of the lime and raspberry Swedish Fish flavors. A year later, Trident released another version of the chewing gum with watermelon and orange flavors that caught the attention of gum and candy fans across the U.S.

While both of these Swedish Fish collaborations were successful, it was an out-of-the-box idea that catapulted Swedish Fish from another popular candy company to one of the most talked about brands on the market. With the help of cookie icon Oreo, Swedish Fish launched the first Oreo with a Swedish Fish center.

The collaboration puzzled consumers, with many of them thinking it was a fake product that was photoshopped for effect. To their surprise Oreo released the cherry and chocolate combination to Kroger stores in 2016, creating a wave of social media buzz that got people wondering just how tasty this treat could be. Upon release, the product was met with some scrutiny as consumers found the cherry flavor overwhelmed the chocolate and the texture was rather slimy compared to the classic filling of “Milks Favorite Cookie”. 

As stated by Oreo in an interview with Time, “We know that consumers enjoy variety when it comes to snacking so we create all of our limited-edition flavors to provide surprising new twists people know and love and on occasion, create unexpected and unique flavor combinations that people may never have thought were possible, including our latest from the Wonder Vault, Swedish Fish Flavored Creme Oreo Cookies.

While we do love ourselves some Oreos and milk, we have to agree this combination is better off separate, ensuring that your taste buds aren’t overwhelmed with too many different flavors.

All that said, we encourage candy fanatics to try out everything Swedish Fish has to offer. You can find a variety of Swedish Fish flavors including the classic red, assorted flavors, blue raspberry lemonade, and even jelly beans during the Easter season.  

Ready to drown your sweet tooth in Swedish Fish?

We got you covered! Head over to our digital aisles and grab yourself a pack, or five, of your favorite flavors and let us know what you think!

Great story. I love Swedish Fish.

Thomas J Santana

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