The relationship that Swedes have with pick ‘n’ mix is, quite frankly, unreal and ever so slightly unsettling. (It’s something to do with grown adult men and women aggressively bumping shoulders so they can get the best selection…) And you haven’t seen a pick ‘n’ mix selection until you’ve come to Sweden, believe me. It’s a fact not all that widely known that Swedes actually eat the most pick ‘n’ mix IN THE WORLD. Which doesn’t seem fair really considering that most Swedes have impeccable physiques, astonishing skin and smiles that can take out your eye.
While putting together a bag of sweets in England is something of an easy process – a couple of white mice, some jelly snakes, a few flying saucers and you’re practically done – in Sweden, unless you’re a pick ‘n’ mix connoisseur, deciding what’s going to go in your paper bag is a daunting prospect because you have several hundred Swedish sweet, sour, salty, (lots of salty) and just plain weird treats to choose from, including sockerbitar, a Swedish marshmallow that’s much chewier and less sweet than its soft, sugary American cousin. I’m still trying to decide if I really enjoy it or not.
While the Swedes are excellent at leaving lots of bad stuff out of their confectionery, I’m trying to cut down on the amount that I put away. But I’ve been missing the excitement that comes with grabbing some pick ‘n’ mix after you’ve got the boring basics. I’ve been missing the thrill of deciding ‘what to get this time.’
It was like the universe heard my sadness, because the next thing I know we’re shopping and I’m face to face with a pick ‘n’ mix selection of a different kind, a healthier kind, a kind which, if I’m being perfectly honest, appealed to me much, much more. A kind called Exotic Snacks.
There was yogurt covered berries, yogurt covered pineapple, yogurt covered banana chips (Covered in yogurt? GIVE IT TO ME!) Japanese rice snacks and nuts…nuts galore. Picking up that little shovel and little paper bag for the first time was one of the most exciting things that’s happened to me this year where food is concerned.
This was my fifth or so Exotic Snacks experience, and, while it’s a bit more expensive than the candy I’m used to it is so much better! Yes, there’s still chocolate, dried fruit and an abundance of nuts involved in the Exotic Snacks pick ‘n’ mix, but I take it easy, and don’t fill my bag to bursting. I also don’t eat it everyday, though believe me…I wish I could. For those who want to avoid fat, sugar and calorie dense bites, there’s options such as wasabi peas, mini rice cakes and natural licorice.
Now, while I always pick up some of my favourite choices – yogurt covered raisins, giant corn, Jordgubb yoghurt frystorkad (dehydrated strawberries covered in yogurt) and kokostopper yogurt – I try and pick up something new each time. On this occasion I went a bit wild and took some Japansk Mix and some Äpple & Kokos Grön Bönblandning (which is basically a mix of pumpkin seeds, dried apple pieces, soya beans and coconut). In case you were wondering, yes, I’m a huge fan of mixing sweet and salty.
I love to have my Exotic Mix cold. Not at warm temperature, like a normal human being, but chilled enough so I really have to work at those yogurt covered raisins. Plus, it makes the bag last longer. So I always put my bag in the fridge for a few hours before demolishing. Last night’s bag was eaten in front of It Follows. Exotic Snacks proved to be a thousand times more satisfying.