Yum yum! The top 10 most brutal candies you can find in Finland

Finnish Salmiakki

They’re traditional, utterly Finnish, and something that many people don’t even consider to be candy. We’re talking about salmiakki, of course.

Salmiakki, known in English as salty licorice, is a popular treat in Finland and other Nordic countries. It’s no secret that salmiakki is something of an acquired taste. Flavored with ammonium chloride, salmiakki has a strong, salty flavor — which Finns love. If you’re an adventurous non-Finnish candy lover who has never heard of salmiakki, don’t expect much. It’s probably better that way.

We’ve rounded up a list of the top 10 most brutal Finnish candies, so read on to find out whether your favorite made the list — although we think you can probably guess which one earned the #1 spot on our list!

Image: Kallu

10. Hopeatoffee (Silver toffee)

Hopeatoffee Silver Toffee

Let’s start mildly. This toffee salmiakki-flavored toffee is really sweet compared to other salmiakki products. This candy went off the market from 2009 to 2013, but was brought by the manufacturer due to massive angry feedback. Out of all the salmiakki stuff on this list, Hopeatoffee is probably the easiest to digest and is a great place to start for salmiakki novices.

9.Pohjanmaan pastillit (Ostrobothnia pastilles)

Pohjanmaan pastillit (Ostrobothnia pastilles)

These minty pastilles much like breath mints are also known as ”uskovaisten pastilli”, ”religious people’s pastille”. With a floury texture, they dissolve easily in your mouth without much chewing and are therefore popular among the elderly. It has been said that the religious people candy name comes from the fact that many elderly people tend to have these on hand at religious events.




For many Finns, these candies are strongly associated with visiting grandparents, or ”mummola”, (literally ”grandmother’s [house]”), and that’s why they’ve made it to this list. My grandparents always had these, and sometimes I dared to ask for them in times of extreme candy hunger. These might be tasty for elders, but for a kid craving sugary sweets, they are a huge disappointment. But being a stupid and optimistic little kid, I always thought that maybe the taste will be better this time. I was wrong.

8. Tervaleijona (Tar lion)

Tervaleijona (Tar lion)

These tiny sugar-covered pastilles are — you guessed it: Licorice candy with tar flavor. Tar flavor is fairly popular in Finland, and you can find everything from tar-flavored ice cream to tar-flavored candy. It adds a distinct smokiness to your snack.

7. Tervapirut (Tar devils)

Tervapirut (Tar devils)

These taste similar to Tervaleijona, only without the sugar. These are perfect for those who don’t like to spoil the delicate flavor of tar with anything sweet.

6. Salmiakkijauho

Salmiakkijauho

This is legit candy. It’s salmiakki powder with sugar, and that’s about it. You can dump the entire thing in your mouth at once, dip a finger in the powder and lick it — just don’t snort it. It’s not going to get you high and will most likely burn your nostrils.

This isn’t the only manufacturer of salmiakki powder, nor the only packaged kind you can find. You can find salmiakki powder in shorter and wider tubes, as well as in palm sized (usually black) flat cases that look like snuff cases.

5. Apteekin salmiakki (Pharmacy salmiakki)

Apteekin salmiakki (Pharmacy salmiakki)

This is similar to the old-timey salmiakki that was sold in pharmacies as a medicine for cough and digestion. You can still find it in Finnish pharmacies. They are very tiny, flat pieces of salmiakki that taste most like the original salmiakki.




4. Super Salmiakki

Super Salmiakki

This salmiakki is strong, but unlike the previous very traditional salmiakki candies, it has a eucalyptus or menthol nuance in its flavor. It’s my personal favorite salmiakki.

3. Sisu

Finnish sisu candy

First of all, don’t be fooled: it’s not Gifu. The letters are old letters that resemble G and F, but are actually capital S and lowercase s.

Sisu is part of Finnish mentality. Tricky to translate, but sisu is something that keeps you going no matter what. You will pull through the hard times even though everything and everyone in the world is against you. You try with sisu. And for a foreigner who tries these candies for the first time, it might determine whether they have any “sisu” in them.




If you don’t like the flavor of Sisu but you have sisu in you, you chew it, swallow it and eat it. No matter how bad it tastes. The red one is the ”original”, but there are plenty of other flavors such as Salmiakki (obviously), Raikas (Fresh), Kekäle (Firebrand), Kipinä (Spark), Horna (Abyss/Hell), Sysi (Charcoal) as well as Sisu chewing gum (with xylitol!). Even though they all taste different, they all have the same easily recognizable base taste. The taste of Sisu.

2. Salmiakkisuklaa

Salmiakkisuklaa

This is something you either lovee or hate. I don’t really fancy this myself but it still combines two of the most Finnish things ever: Fazer blue chocolate and salmiakki filling. The salmiakki is really strong and almost liquid.

1. Turkinpippurit / Tyrkisk Peber ( Turkish peppers)

Turkinpippurit : Tyrkisk Peber ( Turkish peppers)

When you first pop these hard candies into your mouth, you taste a sweet licorice flavor. It’s not bad. And then when you chew, you discover a new flavor. It’s filled with very strong salmiakki powder.

Turkinpippurit are pure brutality. If you eat them too much (especially if you like to suck on them rather than chew) they will cause the skin to peel off from your palate.

10 Finnish candies, 10 ways to get your salmiakki fix. Which of these is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Karoliina Korhonen, the author of Finnish Nightmares, is enthusiastic about Finnish culture and cats. Not necessarily at the same time. She also loves to tell her own bedtime stories that evolve into novels and according to her you cannot be fully awake until you’ve had two cups of coffee: “One to get out of bed and the other to stay out.” 




24 replies
  1. Oscar
    Oscar says:

    I think the fact “they will cause the skin to peel off from your palate” tells you everything you need to know about these “sweets” More sugar less ammonium chloride, IMO 🙂

    Reply
    • Kaisa
      Kaisa says:

      It’s not the ammonium chloride, it’s because they are really hard and have rough edges! And when you bite into them, they shatter into sharp pieces.

      Reply
  2. NannaK
    NannaK says:

    Ah the tar lions, been 30 years since I had one and I’m sure if I could bear the taste they’d take me straight to my grandparents’ house. My grandad always had them in his pocket. I never liked them even then, but it was rare to get candy and I wanted to be nice to him, so I would take one whenever offered. Forgot they even existed, so this post was pure nostalgia to me.

    Reply
  3. J L
    J L says:

    Another explanation for the name uskovaisten pastilli is that at a gathering, a speech must not last longer than it takes for one of those candies to dissolve in hour mouth.

    Reply
  4. Mathijs
    Mathijs says:

    They put licorice in everything in Finland, also in ice-cream. (That was actually surprisingly good)
    I once tried chocolate with licorice though, that wasn’t Yum Yum in my opinion, more like Yuk Yuk! LOL

    Reply
  5. Astropoet
    Astropoet says:

    I was in a meeting with a Swedish colleague and she gave me some Swedish sweets, one of which was a lollipop. I was expecting the liquorice but jeez I got a shock when I got to the liquid inside. I thought I was being poisoned!

    Reply
  6. Maria Margaretha
    Maria Margaretha says:

    My absolute favorite is Tyrkisk Peber. Bought loads of it in the airport before going back to Holland, ( I am dutch).Yes my skin peeled of a lot, but couldn’t stop eating them. And tar flavored ice cream with some blueberry cream sauce.

    Reply
  7. Eric Miller
    Eric Miller says:

    I recently discovered the salmiakki candies and I am absolutely addicted. “Regular” candy just doesn’t cut it anymore. I love the smell of ammonia in the morning!

    Reply
  8. Susanna
    Susanna says:

    Eikö nimi jo kerro että Tyrkisk Peber ei ole suomalainen “keksintö” vaan tanskalaista alkuperää. Itse en siis laske tätä tulista herkkua suomalaiseksi. Muuten hyvä lista, heti iski koti-ikävä..

    Reply
  9. Johan
    Johan says:

    I guess you need to grow up with the taste as a kid.
    I love the look on the faces of (non-Nordic) colleagues when they try some salmiak licorice 😉
    Not good for your blood pressure when you eat too much of it, by the way.

    Reply
  10. Aila
    Aila says:

    Pro-Salmiakki Houston,TX April 2017

    1. Watching people, whether regal, popular, grandiose or just well-mannered, spit out Salmiakki within 5-10 seconds of contact no matter where they are…PRICELESS!
    2. You don’t have to share … BOU-YAH!

    Reply
  11. Ida
    Ida says:

    Jos salmiakkia tekee mieli niin se on kyl sisu horna tai supersalmiakki, paljoo en kyllä voi syödä sisu hornaa, tulee helposti rytmihäiriöitä.

    Reply

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