#SwedishChristmas: A Christmas candy with an unfortunate name

#SwedishChristmas: A Christmas candy with an unfortunate name
Like Santa himself, Juleskum comes just once a year, but it is still one of Sweden's most popular bagged candies. Photo: ofml/Wikimedia Commons
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To native speakers of English, anything with the word skum in it may not sound like the most appealing of edible treats. 

Fortunately, while the Swedish word skum does indeed mean the same as the English word scum, it also means foam, which is already a vast improvement. Even better, in the context of Swedish candy, it further translates to marshmallow, which means that the Swedish Christmas favourite, Juleskum (literally, Christmas foam), is perfectly safe to eat.

The history of Juleskum goes back to 1934, when Swedish confectioner Cloetta began making marshmallow candy known as skumjultomtar because they were moulded to look like Jultomtar, which we featured earlier this week. By the 1960s, the strawberry-flavoured candies, branded Juleskum, looked much as they do today. They have been a Swedish Christmas classic ever since. Although only sold at Christmas, the Cloetta website proudly notes that Juleskum “is the fourth best-selling candy bag in Sweden on an annual basis”.

Over the years, the product line expanded beyond the original product to include chocolate-covered hearts, a large tomte and, since 2011, an annual limited-edition special flavour.

Of course, other companies have also got into the business of making skumjultomtar, and there are even skumtomte-themed soda and energy drinks (bright pink, of course). And because no good candy is ever really a final product, countless recipes exist online that use Juleskum to make everything from fudge to panna cotta.

Member comments

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  1. Since it’s pronounced more like “skoom,” it’s another reason no apologies should be made towards English-speakers. No one has mentioned “fart” or any number of other funny words. My Swedish cousin found it very funny that I referred to a pharmacy here in New York City as a “drugstore.” I do see his point.

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