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#AdventCalendar: The curious history of the chocolate box you’re bound to receive this Christmas

#AdventCalendar: The curious history of the chocolate box you're bound to receive this Christmas
Has it really been Christmas if you haven't dug into one of these? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX/TT
Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.

If you're spending part of the Christmas season in Sweden, chances are high that at some point you'll be digging into a bright red chocolate box with the name Aladdin.

The boxes contain a selection of pralines and truffles, a mix of dark, milk and white chocolate with fillings including orange truffle, chocolate crisp and rum and raisin.

People in Sweden buy 2.5 million of Aladdin boxes each year, almost 2 million of them over the Christmas season, and they are a perfect go-to for that hard-to-buy-for relative, a Secret Santa exchange or, let's face it, the person you almost forgot. 

So how did Aladdin become the official Swedish Christmas chocolate box?

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The box was first produced by Swedish chocolate makers Marabou in 1939, available in three different sizes with a 500-gram box costing four kronor at the time.

Marabou were copying British confectioners Rowntree & Co, who had launched boxes of a variety of chocolate flavours a few years earlier and, with some clever marketing, were able to turn their ailing finances around. 

The first Aladdin boxes were filled with the company's 18 most popular individual chocolates (since Swedes are huge consumers of pick'n'mix, that data was readily available). With a simple design and fixed content, it lent itself perfectly to mass production, allowing for a low price point.

In 1957 the alternative chocolate box Paradis was introduced, with no dark chocolates since these became less popular with customers in the post-war period.

The contents has changed over the years, with fruit creams dominating at the start, to be replaced by many liqueur chocolates in the 1970s, and today nougat is the most popular flavour. In 2014, the three-nut and cherry liqueur flavours were ditched in favour of raspberry liquorice and elderflower (the latter was replaced by lime in later years) to a huge uproar and unsuccessful campaigns to bring them back.

While the exact selection might vary over time, there are two rules to be aware of if you'll be celebrating Christmas with Swedes and an Aladdin box. Firstly, never take from the lower of the two layers until the top one is completely empty (even if all your favourite truffles are gone) and secondly, don't take the final chocolate from the box.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.

 


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