MorMor Peppermint

Amalia Eriksson

The old saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention, and often, that necessity is a mother’s need to care for her child. Orphaned at age 10, Amalia Eriksson found herself widowed and impoverished at age 35 in 1859, just one week after giving birth to her daughter Ida. When baby Ida fell ill soon after, Amalia was unable to afford medicine from a druggist. Desperate to relieve her daughter’s sickness, she blended peppermint oil, vinegar, and sugar, along with other ingredients, into what she hoped would be a health-restoring concoction. Although Eriksson’s creation, which she dubbed “polkagris,” did not prove to have medicinal value, its taste was a big hit with little Ida and, eventually, with children all over Sweden. Although women were not permitted to own businesses in Eriksson’s hometown of Gränna, she petitioned the town council and won an exception. Polkagris and the confectionery she established remain beloved icons of Swedish ingenuity and business acumen.