Amid scepticism, Estonia’s first liquorice shop opens (1)
Finland’s love for liquorice is fairly well-known, but Estonians are slow to catch up.
Finland and other Scandinavian countries are known to worship liquorice. One can find all sorts and sizes in the sweet shops of Estonia’s northern neighbour. Finnish even produce salty liquorice – they call it “salmiakki” – which is flavoured with ammonium chloride and is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea outside the country’s borders, although it has found a certain “cult following” abroad.
The Estonians are not like their cousins across the channel when it comes to this distinctive sweet. During the Soviet occupation, the sole local confectionery maker Kalev didn’t produce liquorice and foreign sweets were not imported, for obvious reasons. And although the liquorice plant – from which the sweet and characteristic flavour is extracted – can in theory be grown in Estonia, it would need greenhouse conditions and has therefore never been considered viable enough.
So Estonians learned to either love or hate liquorice about 25 years ago, when the Iron Curtain fell and Scandinavians started to import their products here. Judging by the consumption numbers, most seem to have retained distaste for this unusual candy – traditional confectionery such as chocolate still rule the market.
This has not stopped one businesswoman trying her luck. Manuela Kelt has just opened a dedicated liquorice shop at the Solaris center in the middle of Tallinn, importing the sweets made by Johan Bülow’s Denmark-based Lakrids brand, as well as from Iceland.
“I want to change the prejudice among Estonians and offer liquorice in surprising combinations and flavors,” Kelt told Postimees, adding that she prepared for this difficult task for three years.
In case she fails in her mission to get more people instantly fascinated with liquorice, Kelt also offers alternatives by selling chocolate and toffee, as well as spices.