Swedish Fish


Swedish Fish is a fish-shaped wine gum (gum drop type) candy. In 1957, Malaco, a Swedish confectionery manufacturer, expanded its business by exporting a few of their products to North America. Various licorice ribbon and licorice lace candies were the first products to be exported. Malaco CEO Thor Fjørgerson called the move ‘a landmark day for Sweden/US relations.’

International trade experts hailed the move, as it allowed Malaco to extend its brand beyond the Scandinavian Peninsula. Malaco’s export trade grew and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Swedish Fish and Swedish Berries were developed specifically for the North American market. Malaco was eventually acquired by Leaf International.

During the late 1960s, Swedish Shells were created. These were identical in composition, flavor, and color to the original Swedish Fish, but were in the shape of scalloped seashells and came in red (cherry), yellow (lemon), orange (orange), and green (lime). The Swedish Shells were the first color/shape expansion of the Swedish Fish line. They were sold by the Broadway Department Store chain from the late 1960s well into the 1970s. From the late 1970s until they were discontinued in the early 1990s, they were carried and sold by various bulk candy stores and candy specialty shops.

Today the Swedish Fish consumed in North America are made in Hamilton, Ontario, by the Cadbury Adams Company, which bought the brand from Leaf in 2006. The fish are distributed in the U.S. by Cadbury Adams USA in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey.

In Sweden, wine gums are sold in many different shapes, of which fish is just one. The Swedish Fish candy is marketed under the name pastellfiskar,’ literally ‘pastel fish,’ and under the Malaco brand among others. The North American variety of Swedish Fish can be found at Swedish IKEA stores under the original name.

Originally colored red with a flavor unique to the candy (often guessed to be lingonberry, but never verified), they are now also available in several different colors, such as Orange & Lemon-Lime. Purple Swedish Fish in grape flavor were discontinued in 2006. Green is not lime, but pineapple flavor, while yellow is a lemon-lime flavor. The fish come in two different sizes. Initially, the smaller fish came only in red; now fish of both sizes are available in all flavors. ‘Aqua Life’ is a certain style of Swedish Fish candy in the shape of sea animals. They are available in yellow (lemon) starfish, green (lime) whales, purple (grape) puffer fish, orange (orange) seahorses, and blue (blue raspberry) dolphins.

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