On our last day exploring Smaland, we decided to spend the day in Gränna, Sweden. I had visited here many times before due to having family here and spending summers on the lake, so was super excited to return once again and especially excited to head to Polkapojkarna.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then the small town of Gränna, may be your idea of heaven. Tucked away on the eastern shore of Vättern, the country’s second-largest lake, the town is known primarily for one thing: the polkagris. Read all my posts from Sweden here.
Polkagris is a Swedish stick candy that was invented in 1859 by Amalia Eriksson in the town of Gränna, Sweden, and remains a popular candy tradition in the town. The traditional polkagris candy stick is white and red, and is peppermint flavoured. I had previously visited the shop, Polkapojkarna, on other visits to this wonderfully quaint town, but had never made my own polkagris!
It all began in 1859 when Amalia Eriksson, an impoverished local widow, began making polkagrisar to support herself and her daughter. Eventually others followed suit, and today there are a dozen polkagris bakeries lining the main street of the town.
Our wonderful teacher was a young man who had worked in the shop since his teenage years, becoming professional at this skilled profession. He showed us around the shop, before letting us inside the baking station where he showed us how to make the mix.
To make polkagrisar, the first step is to mix sugar, water, and vinegar and heat them to a 150°C (302°F). The molten sugar is then dumped onto a cooling table, where color is added to small pieces that are separated out and set aside.
Once the dough has cooled a bit, the peppermint is added and the dough is stretched to let in air, which gives it its texture and white color. This used to be done entirely by hand, but nowadays hand cranks are used to help in the stretching process. It’s such a traditional way of making candy, and its wonderful seeing it being done.
This is where we jumped in and after a few goes, and a pair of messy hands, managed to rolled out and wrap 16 of our own Polkagris. And they even let us take them all home too… (we still have 20 stored in our cupboard for a rainy day!)
Polkapojkarna started on a back street in Gränna 20 years ago by Daniel and Fredric Agnhammar, but now you will find it in Brahegatan, the main street in Gränna. They pride themselves on great customer service and the full experience, something that they certainly deliver in the shop.
These days the candies come in many colors and flavors. It’s fascinating to watch the bakers at work creating the different varieties. But remember: only the red-and-white striped ones are considered true Gränna polkagrisar!
The shop is open every day of the week, year round, so if you’re in the region make sure you put a day in to your itinerary and spend a morning or afternoon here.
GPS location: Brahegatan 59, 563 31 Gränna, Sweden