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


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


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.” 

36 replies

  1. 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 🙂

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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..

  9. I love Apteekin Salmiakki! My mother ate one and has ever since called them ‘piss rags’, which I kind of understand…

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

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

    • That’s orriginally called salmiakki kossu….combining Turkis peppers & Koskenkorva vodka combining two very favourite finnish tastes…I’ve made this with receipe half a liter of koskenkorva (40%), 1 bag of Turkish peppers & one case of Fazerin salmiakki (original size)…probably you will need a 0,7 litres bottle so you can shake it ever now & then, but firstly to get all the stuff to fit in a bottle. warming it a bit & moving it a bit speeds the process up a lot. Ready when all the Fazerin salmiakki has been dissolved. …you might want to try dishwasher…but don’t blame me of faulty bottles or spin corks 😉 There are of course this fake think ” salmari” sold also in sold in Alko in Finland and probably some sort of similar in Estonia…. but those are not nearby the most original one….which I just presented. If you are in a great hurry & like youre stuff kinda waterish leave Fazerin salmiakki out off the recipe

  13. I have a 375G tin of Tyrkisk Peber sitting next to me. I have a 38g box of Super Salmiakki. I have some Dubbel Zout (I forget the maker), and Venco Schoolkrijt and Munten Drop from Holland. I have the ever-fantastic Villosa Sallos pastilles from Germany. I am one VERY happy liquorice lover here in the USA. Salmiak was new to me last year, but it’s become an enormous favorite since then, especially since I found a European expat shop here in town recently! Thanks for the article. I’m pretty sure I’d adore every one of the things here I’ve not yet tried. The Fazer Blue Chocolate + Salmiakki Ooze seems particularly enticing!

  14. Tyrkisk Peber is not Finnish, it’s Danish, was invented in Denmark and produced here for twenty years before Fazer bought it. They also changed the taste a little bit to be sweeter and much milder, which is a shame imo, but it may be the reason for the succes of the candy since then, so I suppose it’s allright. And they got a new strong variant back on the market, so I’m good.

    Finland may be the overall slightly superior licorice-country (i love both the tar from leijona and the mint from pantteri epsecially myself, as well as the soft bites!), but Denmark is the place to go for strong licorice. Try Super Piratos and Super Fighters, yummm!

    But good walkthrough of great finnish licorice in this article. Nice mention of the salmiakki powder. Oh, and look for the licorice version of Pohjanmaan, it’s great!

  15. To speed up the tyrkish peber – vodka mixture we used to smash the unopened bag with a chair (put the bag under the leg) to make a powder which dissolves right away. We never had time to wait.. The mixture was a great way to meet people at college parties (in USA long ago), just chug some in the middle and people would came and talk to you. Fond memories of the reaction from a tough guy who wanted to impress the ladies by also taking a big gulp from the bottle :).

    Another great memory is a friend in the USA saw me eating those and wanted to to try one. He tasted it and tried to spit it out, but I said not to worry since there is a nice chocolate filling. Reaction after the crunchy bite was PRICELESS.

  16. Hello candy lovers – Danes are just as crazy with liquorice and many great liquorice types are found in Danish shops – just wrote to mention that Tyrkisk Pebber from Fazer originally is a Danish liquorice candy dating back to the 70’s – then to be bought and produced by Finish company Fazer

    All t best Jedper

  17. Although my Finnish grandmother never mentioned salmiakki, I loved the flavor the first time I tried it – especially the tongue searing Turkish Pepper variety.

  18. Terve! I love this list and salmiakki/tar stuff in general. There are quite few strong candidates but the strongest stuff I’ve tried so far is called Svenskjävlar, nothing lagom about them for a Swedish thing.

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