Swedish word of the day: smörgåstårta

Here's a word to describe a Swedish food that may, on first glance, sound quite bizarre: smörgåstårta.

Swedish word of the day: smörgåstårta
Yuck or yum? Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Smörgås means 'sandwich' (although perhaps not quite the way you think of a sandwich, as we've discussed in a previous Word of the Day), while tårta means cake (generally a soft, large cake for sharing, as explained here).

A smörgåstårta, then, is a 'sandwich cake'.

Photo: Leif R Jansson/ SCANPIX/TT

And yes, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Sandwich ingredients, layered and decorated just like a dessert cake, except it's cold, savoury and often fishy.

To build a smörgåstårta, you layer up white or rye bread with savoury creamy fillings such as pâté, cream cheese or mayonnaise. Additional typical smörgås toppings such as cold meats, cheese, fish, and vegetables can be added into the mix too.

The finished product is decorated with more creamy toppings and garnishes that may include shrimps, tomatoes, cucumber or herbs, for example.

Photo: Jonas Ekströmer / TT

The smörgåstårta is served at special occasions such as parties or an office fika, when it's cut into slices like a cake. The big advantage is that it can be prepared or ordered in advance, making it a simpler choice for hosts than hot food.

But it doesn't usually make an appearance at national celebrations such as Midsummer or Christmas, when buffet-style food is the normal choice.

The first recorded reference to smörgåstårta was in a Småland newspaper in 1934, and it appears to have grown in popularity after the Second World War, possibly due to the free availability of ingredients such as butter and cheese after rationing ended.

In 2012, November 13th was chosen as the official Smörgastårta Day, following in the Swedish tradition of giving beloved national foods their own day of celebration. The day was popularized by the group Smörgåstårtans Vänner (literally Friends of the Sandwich Cake), which counts over 1,000 members nationwide.

So, happy sandwich cake day one and all!


Mums, smörgåstårta med lax och räkor!

Yum, sandwich cake with salmon and prawns!

Jag vill beställa tre smörgåstårtor till min födelsedagsfest

I want to order three sandwich cakes for my birthday party

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.





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Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Love them or hate them, foppatofflor are unexpectedly coming back in to fashion. But what are they, and how did they get their Swedish name?

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Foppatoffla – foppatofflor in plural – is the Swedish term for Crocs – plastic sandals or clogs which first became popular in the early 2000s.

The word foppatoffla is made up of two words. The first is foppa, which is the nickname of one of Sweden’s most successful ice hockey players, Peter Forsberg. The second half of the word is toffla, the Swedish word for “sandal”.

Foppatofflor, the Swedish term for Crocs. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix/TT

So, what does a famous Swedish ice hockey player have to do with plastic clogs?

The story begins in the early 2000s, when Forsberg was recovering from a foot injury sustained playing professional ice hockey. When looking for a shoe comfortable enough for him to wear without exacerbating his injury, he came across Crocs, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic.

Recognising the shoes’ potential, Forsberg became an early investor, securing the sole rights to distribute Crocs in Sweden through his company Forspro. But Forsberg didn’t just invest in the shoes, he also appeared in adverts for them, leading Swedes to start referring to the shoes as foppatofflor.

By 2010, sales of foppatofflor were dwindling, so Forsberg shut down Forspro to focus on other investments – but not before the name had stuck.

Peter “Foppa” Forsberg. The man you can thank (or despise) for introducing Crocs to Sweden. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The shoes are still popular as ergonomic and hygienic work shoes, particularly in the healthcare sector, although they were briefly banned in some Swedish hospitals on suspicion of causing a build-up of static electricity which disrupted hospital machinery.

They may also be coming back into fashion, gracing the Oscars red carpet and the Instagram feeds of musicians such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams in the last few years.

So, love them or hate them, foppatofflor seem to be here to stay. Now you know what word to use if you decide to pick up a pair for yourself this summer.

Example sentences:

Jag har precis köpt nya foppatofflor till barnen – de är ju så praktiska!

I’ve just bought new Crocs for the kids – they’re so practical!

Gud, är foppatofflor verkligen trendiga nu? Bra att jag har kvar mina från 00-talet!

God, are Crocs really trendy now? Good job I kept mine from the noughties!

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.