Why do they call them Swedish Fish?

Origin of Swedish Fish

Swedish Fish were first created in the late 1950s by the Swedish candy company Malaco. The chewy, gummy candy was originally developed to have a unique texture and flavor profile compared to other gummy candies on the market.

The exact origins of the name “Swedish Fish” is unclear, but it likely refers to the fact that they were created by a Swedish company. Additionally, the fish shapes and red color evoked the classic Swedish hues. The name helped the candy stand out from the competition and conveyed its Scandinavian roots.

Popularity in the United States

Swedish Fish first became popular in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The candies were imported to the US market by the Finnish company Fazer. Their popularity expanded significantly when the American company Cadbury acquired the rights to produce them domestically in the US.

Several factors contributed to the growing popularity of Swedish Fish in the American market:

  • Unique, chewy texture – Unlike the stiff, firm gummies popular at the time, Swedish Fish had a softer, chewier texture that consumers enjoyed.
  • Vibrant red color – The bright red color made them stand out on store shelves and caught consumers’ eyes.
  • Wildberry flavor – The candies were flavored with a distinctive sweet-tart wildberry flavor profile not found in other gummies.
  • Whimsical fish shapes – The fish shapes added a sense of fun and whimsy that appealed to kids and adults alike.
  • Affordable cost – Swedish Fish were an affordable sweet treat, costing just pennies per fish, making them accessible to most consumers.

As imports rose and domestic production ramped up, Swedish Fish became a signature candy in the US market. Their popularity has endured for decades.

Swedish Fish Varieties

While the classic red Swedish Fish are still the most popular, numerous flavor, color, and shape varieties have been introduced over the years:

Variety Description
Sour Swedish Fish These have a tart, sour sugar coating for a puckering effect.
Original Swedish Fish The original wildberry flavor but in a wider range of vibrant colors like orange, yellow, and green.
Giant Swedish Fish Larger, oversized Swedish fish that are about three times bigger than regular ones.
Swedish Fish Minis Bite-sized miniature Swedish Fish.
Gummy Octopus/Sharks Same flavors and textures as Swedish Fish but in fun octopus and baby shark shapes.
Soft n Chewy Swedish Fish A softer pectin-based fish with extra chewiness.
Swedish Fish Candy Canes Special seasonal candy canes molded in the signature Swedish Fish shape.

This wide range of options has extended the brand’s popularity and introduced Swedish Fish flavors and shapes to new generations of candy lovers. The evolution of the brand demonstrates its ability to adapt while retaining the classic essence that makes them so adored.

Swedish Fish in Popular Culture

As Swedish Fish grew into a beloved American candy icon over the decades, they became ingrained in pop culture and media:

  • They were prominently featured in the comedy film Pee-Wee Big Adventure in 1985.
  • The 1993 horror comedy Hocus Pocus used the candies as part of a spell.
  • In a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, Cosmo Kramer claimed the candies got their name because they were the “national candy of Sweden.”
  • A 1998 episode of Friends referred to Swedish Fish as Phoebe’s “family crest.”
  • In a 2006 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a character uses Swedish Fish to help stay awake during shifts.
  • Taylor Swift reveals her love of Swedish Fish in her 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana.
  • Rapper Lil Uzi Vert mentions them in a lyric in his 2020 song “Baby Pluto.”

This is just a sampling of the many pop culture references which have cemented Swedish Fish’s iconic status. Their trademark bright red fish shapes are instantly recognizable to generations of Americans.

The Swedish Fish Company Today

Today, Swedish Fish are produced by Mondelez International, which owns the Swedish Fish brand in the US. They are still made in the signature fish shape with the unique chewy texture, though artificial colors and flavors have replaced the original formulas.

Over 4 billion Swedish Fish are consumed in the US each year. They remain a top selling gummy candy, available in a wide range of stores and online shops. Fans can even order custom Swedish Fish in their own photos and designs.

In recent years, Swedish Fish have expanded beyond just being an iconic candy. Branded merchandise like t-shirts, phone cases, and pillows allow super-fans to show their love. The company also leverages social media for engaging promotions and tie-ins.

While Swedish Fish have evolved over the decades, at heart they remain the beloved, chewy candy treat with a quirky fish shape and whimsical name that has delighted multiple generations of Americans.


In summary, Swedish Fish first emerged as a gummy candy innovation from Sweden in the late 1950s. Their unique, chewy texture, vibrant red color, wildberry flavor, affordability, and fun fish shapes made them a big hit when they entered the US market in the 1960s and 70s. Over the years, new varieties, flavors, and colors expanded the brand’s popularity.

Swedish Fish embedded themselves in American pop culture with fun references across media. While the formula and production has shifted, they remain one of the top gummy candy brands. The iconic red fish candies have maintained their classic identity and appeal to candy lovers for over 60 years. So that explains why they are called Swedish Fish – because they were created in Sweden and shaped like fish!