Are you on a quest to find some amazing Finnish foods in a grocery store, or looking for the perfect but affordable Finnish souvenirs to take home with you 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. And the fun doesn’t have to end when you leave. The last part of this post lists some things to take with you as a souvenir or to enjoy at home!
Also, I have a hunch that there are some things you may encounter in a Finnish grocery store that need a bit of explaining. When you have finished reading about what to buy, I have written about the things you should know about Finnish grocery stores here.
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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!
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Three Finnish souvenir ideas you can get from the grocery store
Some of the things I already talked about above, like Fazer blue chocolate and Jenkki chewing gum, make great souvenirs to take with you to friends and colleagues.
Many Finns living abroad also always travel with some rye bread to keep in their freezer! Here are a few other ideas that are especially good as Finnish souvenirs.
#1 Reusable Moomin bags and Moomin mugs
Believe it or not, the Moomins are so popular in Finland that some of the grocery store chains make reusable shopping bags with Moomins on them! They are meant for everyday shopping and you will find them as an option for regular plastic bags.
Many shops will also stock affordable Moomin items like napkins, candles, soda, sweets and chewing gum. Sometimes smaller stores will sell Moomin mugs, but you can find the best selections in large stores.
#2 Finnish chocolate and sweets
I already mentioned Fazer blue chocolate, which makes a great souvenir, but there are many other classics worth mentioning. I have written more about iconic Finnish sweets here, but to give you a few tips, Finlandia marmalade and Geisha chocolate are great for sharing and the first has been around for over a hundred years.
If you are looking for a souvenir with an exotic name, Dumle and Wiener nougat might give rise to a chuckle. And a real surprise for anyone at home unfamiliar with Finland is, of course, salmiakki (salty liquorice). But do warn anyone before they try it so they know what they are getting into!
#3 Finnish design and prints for the home
Keep your eyes open for kitchen towels, towels, tote bags, oven gloves, and other items from brands like Vallila, Finlayson, and Marimekko in Finnish stores. The bigger the store is, the more likely you are to find items with great and even iconic prints. These are useful souvenirs that will remind you of your trip for a long time! I hope you have fun exploring the Finnish stores and finding the perfect Finnish souvenirs to take home!
Have you tried any of these foods? What have you bought and did you find any treasures others should definitely know about? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Looking for more information about Finnish foods and Finnish recipes? Check out some of my other Finnish food posts:
- Finnish Oven Pancake: Favorite Homey Dessert in Finland (‘Pannukakku’ Recipe)
- Finnish Pancakes on a Stove or Open Fire (‘Lettu’ Recipe)
- The Irresistible Finnish Cinnamon Rolls (‘Pulla’ Recipe)
- The Classic and Simple Finnish Salmon Soup
- Finnish Gifts: From Christmas Basket Ideas to Fabulous Design
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