The History and Evolution of Swedish Fish

Unless you have sworn off candy for the last 60-70 years, you likely have encountered the red delicacy in the candy world known as Swedish Fish. These tiny gummy treats have been around for decades and have yet to waiver in popularity. The trouble with these recognizable fishy bites, is that there is not a lot that the average person even knows about them. While the internet might not be brimming with all of the information that someone could ever want to know, here is a little bit about the history and the origins of the famous red gummy fish.

Why Swedish Fish?

While you might not think of fish much when you ponder over sweet, bite sized candies, but fish has played a significant role in the lifestyle and economy of Sweden itself. These creatures of the sea and stream are an integral part of the diet for nearly every Swede, and this is not entirely surprising considering that Sweden houses one of the world’s most considerable archipelagos. There are literally countless dishes featuring this staple ingredient, one of which other countries are very unlikely to ever see: Surstromming. To describe it, (essentially herring that has been allowed to ferment/rot in barrels before tinning) you would consider it to be a far cry from the Swedish Fish candies you wanted to know more about.

Origins of the Classic Red Fish

One of the things that many candy lover’s do not realize is just how old this type of candy actually is. First created in the 50s and specifically created for sale in the United States and Canada, these candies were a sensation from the beginning. During the 60’s and 70’s, more and more people fell in love with the classic treat and helped to allow this miniature candy to take a much more prominent role against fierce competition.

The same company that started creating the candy is still the company that makes it today: Malaco. This Swedish confectionary company started the endeavor to reach North American eaters with their hopes to expand to a global market. While Malaco is still deeply engrained in the process and production of their cherished treats, currently the brand is owned and distributed by Cadbury Adams, a candy manufacturer based in the United States.

The Evolution of the Swedish Fish

One of the surprising things about this candy is that in the nearly 70 years that it has been in circulation throughout North America and Sweden, little has changed in the recipe or look. While they might have grown and shrunk at times to switch things up a little bit over the years, the flavor and consistency has not gotten altered. These non-gelatin gummies have always been a favorite of vegetarians, and over the years have been seen in the traditional red, but also: green, yellow, and orange.

Ironically, while the recipe might not have changed much throughout the decades, many companies have worked to capitalize on the unique flavor and fandom of the candy. Companies like Oreo have released limited edition sandwich cookies featuring this patented taste. Even more surprising, the traditional red Swedish Fish are not as popular in Sweden as the black licorice variety (that is not readily available across the pond).

What’s Next For Swedish Fish?

While it might not seem like the company is all that interested in changing up its recipe or delivery of the favored gummy treats, what you can expect is for things to remain consistent. While brands like Oreo, Trident, and Italian ice peddlers (like Rita’s) might have already experienced the fandom craze when they released their limited editions of the memorable recipe, you can expect that more companies will follow suit with this same behavior in the years to come.

Swedish Fish are one of the most recognizable candies to be on the shelves of stores and movie theaters throughout North America. While there is a lot of the history of this company that is not readily known, hopefully you have a better understanding of this sweet treat moving forward with your life. While it might have been created to honor the rich fish heritage of Sweden, it is now a firm staple in the world of irreplaceable candy as well.


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