Tar lollies and patriotic gum

Cut in half? Relax! The Finns have a panacea that is said to cure “even those cut in twain through their midriff”. Wood tar has been used in traditional Finnish medicine for years because of its ability to fight viruses and bacteria and is also used to flavour alcohol and sweets (Terve Leijona).

Tar lollies

Tar lollies

And how does it taste? Kind of like the road in New Zealand smells on a hot summer’s day. Or like the old Throaties we used to get from the chemist. But it’s not offensive, we actually have a wood tar fragrance we use in our sauna. Apparently the Finns say, “if sauna, vodka and tar won’t help, the disease is fatal.” 


Chewing xylitol gum seems to be a patriotic act in Finland. Discovered by French and German scientists, it was the Finns who discovered its health benefits. A sweetener that can be tapped from birch trees, xylitol is safe for diabetics and proven to be beneficial for dental health. The flavour range of Jenkki gum includes spearmint, sweetmint, peppermint and polka mint, orange-cranberry, lemon sorbet, smooth salmiac and smooth lemongrass.


Special wheat flour & whole wheat flour

Turns out ‘plain’ flour is a very subjective term. In NZ it refers to white wheat flour, the main alternative being brown wheat flour. Here in Finland there are so many kinds of flour, what we call ‘plain’ is hidden within a huge range of alternatives and called vehna (wheat) to differentiate it from grains such as rye, or graham.


Rye flour & Fine wholegrain rye flour

Hartwall Jaffa is an iconic drink in Finland and can be found in most supermarkets and corner stores. Apparently it is ‘Finland’s most loved drink’ and is the third-most bought soft drink in the land. And just to confuse us, appelsiini is the Finnish word for orange, not apple.


Finns seem to love their porridge for breakfast and it is sometimes made with oats as we are used to. There’s also a large range of Manna at our supermarket –  a milk-based mannapuuro (semolina-milk porridge).


 And if you prefer toast for breakfast but don’t want the crust? No problem, this brand of bread seems to have taken care of that problem for you. Is that why most Finns have straight hair?