Thumbs down for surströmming pill
Livsmedelsverket (the National Food Agency) decided to ban sales of surströmming pills (pills based on fermented herring...), which are produced as a health product in Österfärnebo. “Surströmming” is of course Swedish for the fermented Baltic herring, the infamous nasty-smelling delicacy. The Swedish administrative law denied the producer’s appeal as he couldn’t prove the pills aren't bad for consumers. The producer’s name is Jan Eriksson, although he also is known as “Skogs Jan,” and he refuses to admit defeat. “We won’t give up that easily,” Skogs Jan said. “This may be an issue for the European Union.” In a previous control, it turned out Skogs Jan’s pills contained high values of dioxins and therefore could be dangerous for young people as well as for pregnant women. Skogs Jan claims the pills are good for upset stomachs.

Jonas Gardell, Swede of the year 2012
The news magazine Fokus has chosen author and comedian Jonas Gardell as Swede of the Year (Årets svensk) 2012. Gardell was in the limelight during the fall as his televised novel “Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar” (Don’t Ever Dry Tears Without Wearing Gloves) got a lot of attention. It’s the story of HIV and AIDS as it broke out in Sweden in the 1980s. The jury’s motivation read: “Jonas Gardell has effectively and painfully reminded us that the value of a human life never is to be taken for granted but always defended.” The title “Årets svensk” has been awarded by Fokus since 2006; previous recipients include the artist Robyn and the Internet activist Christopher Kullenberg.

Christmas present of the year?
Not you or me perhaps, but someone will receive an out of this world Christmas present this year to the tune of 3.2 million SEK (that’s $482,018). It’s not a yacht or a house, instead it’s something very pretty: the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold in Sweden. “Someone will be very happy this Christmas,” said Johanna Pietsch, manager at the Bukowskis auction house. The item, a pair of earrings, has two, spectacular drop-shaped so-called fancy yellow diamonds. “These earrings are special in many ways; the fact that they are 8.88 carats each is one of them,” Pietsch said. She revealed they were bought by a Swede. “A Swedish man bought them, and I should think they are to be a Christmas present for a woman in his life.”

The secret behind julmust
During December sales of Coca Cola in Sweden decrease 50 percent, and the reason for that is julmust. The average Swede drinks five liters (1.3 U.S. gallons) of julmust each December. However few know the story behind the soft drink. Julmust (from “Yule” or Christmas and “must,” which means juice) is consumed in Sweden around Christmas and is quite difficult to find during the rest of the year (although the same drink is sold around Easter as “Påskmust”). Julmust was created by Harry Roberts and his father Robert Roberts in 1910 as a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. The syrup is still made exclusively by Roberts AB in Örebro. The original recipe is said to be locked up in a safe with only two persons knowing all the details. Must is made of carbonated water, sugar, hop extract, malt extract, spices, caramel coloring, citric acid and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat root beer-like taste, but is much sweeter. It can be aged, provided it is stored in a glass bottle. Some people buy Julmust in December only to store it a year before drinking it.