At New York’s newest Swedish candy store, Bon Bon, on the Lower East Side—there’s another one, in the West Village, called Sockerbit, which means “sugar lump”—one of the scoop-your-own bins contains a confection labelled Socialcandy. Socialcandy are slightly sticky gummies, in opaque pastel shades ranging from yellow to pink to seafoam green, with vaguely tropical flavors (tutti frutti, you might say), and different shapes, most of which take the form of a word, acronym, or symbol of the Internet age. There’s a LOL, a YOLO, a hashtag, a thumb’s-up sign that looks like the one on Facebook. There’s an O.M.G., a SELFIE, an @, and a <3. The only outlier is a squishy stack of words that I had to squint at to make out: CANDY PEOPLE. The longer I looked at it, the stronger my desire was to eat it. In Internet parlance, “it me”—which is to say, I am a Candy Person.
Make no mistake—my parents didn’t raise me this way. In fact, as a child, my access to sweets was so limited that I made my Halloween hauls last for months. But ultimately, the restriction seems to have backfired. As an adult, when I am supposed to seek only the refined and bitter pleasures of eighty-five-per-cent dark chocolate, I have regressed, craving only the milkiest of milk. When I am supposed to turn my nose up at the artificial colors, flavors, textures, and whimsical shapes of gummies, I take more delight in them than ever. As I write this, I am chewing happily on a spongy little number in the shape of a miniature sunny-side-up egg, plucked from a large sack of treats I gathered the other day at Bon Bon. It tastes basically of nothing but gives me great shivers of pleasure as I move it between my teeth. And have you ever seen anything so cute?
Nordic countries, in general, are crazy for candy. On a trip to Iceland a few years ago, I was amazed by the wide selection of sweets sold by the pound at even the most average-looking gas stations. But if any one particular country knows from candy, it’s Sweden, whose residents, according to a study by the Swedish Board of Agriculture, eat more per year per capita—more than thirty pounds per person each—than the citizens of any other nation. In Sweden, every Saturday is effectively a national holiday, called lördagsgodis,