Historically, Icelanders don’t really have a much of a sweet tooth. That is not because we didn’t want to but more to do with the fact that most people were incredibly poor and sugar was not something the people would spend money on.
It seems Icelanders decided to make up for all the lost time of eating sweets, candy and desserts by consuming copious amounts of it since the 20th century. The nation has been pretty high on the list of the fattest countries in Europe in recent years.
But who cares? We’re here to talk about Christmas and desserts and candy!
Icelanders like their Christmas customs and their way of doing things is the only way. Those who eat ptarmigan for dinner are shocked that others would choose glazed ham instead. Those who eat glazed ham are in awe that anyone would choose duck, turkey or reindeer.
But there is one thing all those people agree on; there is no Christmas without Mackintosh.
Mackintosh is an Icelandic Christmas stable. You might wonder what it is, well, it’s just Nestlé’s Quality Street. We didn’t bother with changing the name colloquially when Nestlé bought Rowntree 31 years ago. Icelanders still talk fondly about the old tins with Victorian people, and apparently, the candy was just better. It’s all in the tin!
This dessert does not unify people as much as Mackintosh does but those who eat it can’t imagine Christmas without it. And that’s the risalamand. The Christmas pudding came to Iceland from Denmark, where it is very common. It should not be confused with rice pudding, which is basically the same thing but without the whipped cream, vanilla and almonds.
Other things people eat is ice cream. Oh yes. Icelanders eat ice cream during winter – especially in winter, in freezing temperatures. For many, it’s a homemade vanilla ice cream and homemade cornets, a tradition that came from Norway.