Are you on a quest to find some amazing Finnish foods in a grocery store and puzzled by the options? Let a Finn help you out!
As a fellow foodie, I’ve collected here seven Finnish foods you can find in a local supermarket and should totally taste when you’re in Finland.
Also, I have a hunch that there are some things you may encounter in a Finnish grocery store that need a bit of explaining.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Finnish Foods You Should Try and Buy in a Finnish Grocery Store
- 2 More Finnish Foods You Should Try in a Finnish Grocery Store
- 3 Seven Things You Should Know about a Finnish Grocery Store
- 3.1 Free money – the eco-friendly bottle deposit system
- 3.2 You need to visit a state-own alcohol shop in Finland
- 3.3 Finns love pick’n’mix candy
- 3.4 Almost all fruits and vegetables are packed in Finland
- 3.5 Protected service and self-service products are a standard
- 3.6 Finns buy huge amounts of food
- 3.7 Food shopping for children
- 4 Psst... Want to discover the Finnish way of life & communication style?
Finnish Foods You Should Try and Buy in a Finnish Grocery Store
Here are the first four Finnish favorites.
#1 Fazer Blue Chocolate
In Finnish: ”Fazerin Sininen”
Where to find: Candy aisle of any shop, also small kiosks. This product is everywhere as blocks and bars.
What is it? This blue-wrapped chocolate is a Finnish icon. The divine taste comes from fresh milk as many other brands use powder or condensed milk. We Finns know we should only eat two small pieces of chocolate a day, but Fazer Blue is so delicious…
Be sure to read my super detailed post about the Finnish candy culture and 25 iconic candy flavors from Finland.
#2 Jenkki Chewing Gum
In Finnish: ”Jenkki-purkka”
Where to find: Candy aisle of any shop, also small kiosks. This product is everywhere too.
What is it? This Finnish gum is healthy for your teeth because of a dental innovation called xylitol. In Finland, when we speak of gum, we always mean xylitol gum. Non-xylitol gum is candy to us.
Jenkki has been around since 1951. The name means ’Yankee’ in Finnish. Post-war Finland was a huge fan of United States.
#3 Pulled Oats
In Finnish: ”Nyhtökaura”
Where to find: Supermarket or bigger.
What is it? A plant-based protein made of Nordic oats and beans. It has a unique, subtle taste. The nutrition values are fantastic: over 30% protein with nine amino acids. No additives, no chemicals and made near Helsinki. This product is 100% vegan and it’s a Finnish food innovation that makes me very proud.
#4 Queen Ice-Cream Cone
In Finnish: ”Kuningatar-tuutti”
Where to find: Any grocery store. Also some kiosks.
What is it? An old-school ice-cream cone with vanilla ice-cream and raspberry & blueberry jam. In Finland, we call a jam made of raspberries and blueberries ‘Queen Jam’. Hence the name of the ice-cream. This ice-cream is made in Finland and of fresh Finnish milk.
I hope those four foods sound yummy and worth tasting (well, I guess gum isn’t technically food but you know what I mean).
More Finnish Foods You Should Try in a Finnish Grocery Store
Now, let’s see what the three other Finnish food items are.
#5 Karelian Pie
In Finnish: ”Karjalanpiirakka”
Where to find: Bread section of a grocery store. Usually on the shelf of the store bakery.
What is it? Karelian Pie is made of rye crust and thick rice porridge like filling. It’s a staple of traditional Finnish cuisine. Both adults and kids love it.
Karelian pies are best straight out of someone’s oven, second best store-bought. They take forever to make and require some serious cooking skills (my home-made versions have looked like roadkill pizzas). So if you get self-made pies, be in awe.
My family (and most Finnish families) buy them at a store. As you may encounter several kinds of Karelian Pies and only Finnish words, I’ll explain now what’s the difference:
- Karjalanpiirakka = Karelian Pie (the real deal)
- Rukiinen Piirakka = Karelian Pie (a synonym, the same thing as above)
- Sulhaspiirakka = Mini Karelian Pie (has a sweeter taste than the original Karelian pie)
- Perunapiirakka = Potato Pie (rye crust with mashed potato filling)
- Porkkanapiirakka = Carrot Pie (rye crust with carrot-rice porridge filling)
#6 Rye Bread
In Finnish: ”Ruisleipä”
Where to find: Bread section of a grocery store.
What is it? Rye bread is the backbone of Finnish kitchen. It’s what kept us alive for centuries. There’s a huge variety of rye bread in any store, each having a unique flavor. So if you don’t like the first one you buy, try another!
Oh and one cultural detail! If you ask for ”dark bread” in Finland, we always think you mean rye bread. Multi-grain, seed bread and all that is ”white bread with [insert the specific ingredient here]” for us.
#7 Finnish Squeaky Cheese
In Finnish: ”Leipäjuusto” (literary: Bread Cheese)
Where to find: any supermarket or a bigger.
What is it? Squeaky cheese is a flat cheese usually made of cow milk. It really makes a funny squeaky sound when you bite into it. The flavor is mild. Finnish kids absolutely love it.
I’m a huge fan of Leipäjuusto. Everything just works so perfectly in it! The texture, the taste, feeling nostalgic about eating it at my granny’s as a kid. Oh, it’s so yummy.
You can eat squeaky cheese cold or warm. It’s a must-try with cloudberry jam (in Finnish: “lakkahillo”). So, If you decide to try squeaky cheese, don’t leave the store without finding your jar of cloudberry jam. That’s an order!
As a cold dish, I love to slice it on top of rye bread with the above-mentioned jam. The warm dishes include a pan-fried and Lappish baked version.
The laziest option (that’s often me) is just putting the cheese into the microwave and then adding the jam. Still super yummy!
Seven Things You Should Know about a Finnish Grocery Store
Free money – the eco-friendly bottle deposit system
How to get free money in Finland? Just collect old cans and bottles and recycle them!
In every grocery store in Finland, you can find bottle deposit machines. They are these big grey or blue things mounted on the wall, usually near the entrance.
The machine is very easy to use. You just put the empty bottle or can to the machine and get a receipt.
With this receipt, you can collect that amount of money from the shop cash. The deposit varies from 10-40 cents/item. You can also return a non-deposit bottle to the machine, without it giving any money for the item, naturally.
In Finland, you cannot buy a can or a bottle from a store or a kiosk without paying an advance bottle deposit. Note that in restaurants & cafés you are not charged this.
Because of the deposits, collecting empty bottles is good for the environment and to your piggybank.
This is why you sometimes see people putting their hands and arms into bins (I don’t recommend this hazardous move!) as they are searching for bottles and cans to recycle.
You need to visit a state-own alcohol shop in Finland
You might already know, that there is a dedicated shop called “Alko” for wines, strong alcohol and anything that contains more than 5,5 % of alcohol.
Alko-shops have great locations so you can find one easily. Bear in mind, that no store is allowed to sell alcohol from 9 PM to 9 AM in Finland. Restaurants don’t have such restrictions. Phew!
Finns love pick’n’mix candy
We Finns have a sugar tooth, for sure. One of our weekly favorites is to choose our mix from the massive assortment of bulk candy. This candy aisle in a shop is packed with children and adults on Friday evenings!
Everybody is there buying their candies for a movie night or pampering themselves after the work week.
Being fresh and with weird Finnish flavors (salty licorice, for example) I urge you to test Finnish bulk candy! It is one of the most missed things from Finland for Finns living in other countries.
Almost all fruits and vegetables are packed in Finland
Many vegetables and fruits are packed because of transportation and easiness. In most stores, you also have to remember to weight your fruits & veggies in the department!
Browse through the department for scales and press the according number on the “keyboard” as you can see on the item’s price label
Protected service and self-service products are a standard
Bakery, fresh meat, and fresh fish service counters may look different here than in your home country. One reason is, that because of the law every item must be somehow contained in a store; by wrapping them, by using a big plastic cover or by placing them behind doors or glass.
Finns buy huge amounts of food
Finns are great at being efficient. That is also true when we are doing groceries. Many families go only 1-2 times/week to do all their food shopping.
On the other hand, going out to eat is quite rare in Finnish families. Most eat their meals only at home, school, and work.
Thus, the heaps of food you see in people’s carts are no sign of a party or their own restaurant business; they are just buying the equivalent of a one-week consumption of their household.
Food shopping for children
Kids are a huge priority for Finns. Even the smallest of stores has a decent selection of baby and toddler food. Finnish ready-made food for kids is of great quality, and organic choices are common.
Have you tried any of these foods? Have you visited a Finnish grocery store and what did you think? Do you have anything to add to this list? Please leave a comment below.
Looking for more information about Finnish foods and Finnish recipes? Check out some of my other Finnish food posts:
Warm wishes from Finland,
Psst... Want to discover the Finnish way of life & communication style?
After Finnish Culture Compass, you’ll…
...feel connected with the Finnish culture (even if you aren’t in Finland)
...be confident with the Finnish communication style (even when it’s filled with silence)
...be prepared to meet and get to know Finns