There’s been a little dust-up over the exact date — February 10? February 11? February 12? — of Swedish King Adolf Fredrik’s death in 1771, and it’s not clear what specifically killed him, but it is known that he had eaten his favorite dessert — a lot of it — just before he died. Is that what killed him? Was it poisoned? Can a person over-dose on semlor?

Goodness knows semlor are so good, one semla is never enough. Who can blame the king for wanting more? The sweet, cream-filled bun served with milk in a bowl has been the food-of-choice to indulge in on “Fettisdagen” (aka Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Shrove Tuesday), the last day before Lent, for hundreds of years — even as our forefathers were sailing to America and publishing the first issues of Nordstjernan.


But an observant, fasting Christian won’t eat them during Lent, so the king really stocked up, probably in hopes of making it through the 40 days until Easter. He reportedly had a king-sized meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, followed by 14 super-sized servings of what was probably called “hetvägg” at the time — semlor.

Unfortunately, King Adolf Fredrik, age 60, suffered such severe indigestion or food poisoning that he died. Swedes remember Adolf Fredrik as the king who “ate himself to death.” Was it the semlor?

Even though you’ve probably been enjoying semlor all year (and who can blame you), don’t let history repeat itself this Fettisdagen, which falls on Feb. 28 this year. We recommend you eat your dessert first.

Make your own killer-good semlor: