Swedes consume approximately 50 million litres of julmust, a sweet, slightly spicy, non-alcoholic, carbonated beverage, every year around Christmastime.
In other words, the average Swede drinks around five litres of julmust during this period.
But have Sweden's international residents fallen as much in love with julmust as the native population, or is it an acquired taste? We ran two polls on The Local's social media to ask our readers what they think.
We won't keep you in suspense: Julmust won by a large margin.
A total of 191 people voted on Twitter, with 75 percent preferring the Swedish fizzy drink to its American rival.
QUICK POLL: What is the superior Christmas soft drink: Coca-Cola or julmust? Let us know what you think!
— The Local Sweden (@TheLocalSweden) November 26, 2019
Facebook followers were slightly less enthusiastic, but out of 587 voters, 61 percent still preferred julmust to Coca-Cola. Keep scrolling for some of the comments readers left on the polls.
Julmust dates back to the early 1900s, when a Swede named Harry Roberts returned to Sweden from Germany, where he had been studying chemistry.
“He brought with him a formula he had developed for a syrup containing hops and malt extract that would form the basis of a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. At a time when Sweden was actively trying to counteract its citizens' excessive alcohol consumption, such alternatives were critical,” wrote The Local's contributor Victoria Martínez in an article about the history of the Christmassy soft drink last year.
“In 1910, Harry and his father, Robert Roberts, established Roberts AB in Örebro, and began producing and distributing the syrup as julmust. The syrup was purchased by manufacturers that used it to create and bottle distinct brands of julmust soft drink for retail sale.”
Here's what some of our readers had to say:
Why would one drink Coca-Cola for Christmas!?
— Sven Englund (应斯文) (@svenenglund) November 26, 2019
But the slightly spicy, sweet flavour of julmust can also be off-putting to some. Or, as one Twitter follower put it rather more radically: julmust = gif of person retching that we, for the sake of your eyes, won't republish.
Most people who commented spoke fondly of julmust, however.
The formula for the syrup has remained a closely guarded secret of Roberts AB for more than a century, but numerous different brands of julmust have been produced and sold in Sweden. They all taste a bit different, because of each manufacturer's own way of using the syrup, and many have their own favourite.
Julmust – all time of the year! Best is Zeunerts but till this year, Apotekarnes Bryggarmust – Julmust with beer, is my new favourite! ?
— der blaue Klaus (@BerryDot) November 26, 2019
But in the end, perhaps it's not about one drink being “better” than the other, as one reader pointed out:
I find Julmust actually different rather than superior. Considering the special occasion (Christmas) I gladly prefer Julmust over Coca-Cola which can be drunk for the rest of the year.
— Marco Klobas (@MarcoKlobas) November 26, 2019