Licking the Danish lolly
If you visit Denmark on a warm day, you may be tempted to buy an ice cream to cool you down. Then you might go into a small shop that sells only Danish ice creams. ‘How quaint’, you might think. ‘I would like to try the local products. Ice cream is the same everywhere. How bad could it be?’ You would be wrong. It could be really, really bad. In my case it was.
The air conditioning isn’t functioning in the building where I work. Management is reluctant to replace the outdated system, as the company is moving to new premises in the next few years. In an effort to placate the staff who are slow-cooking in the daily blaze, they decided to send around trolleys of ice creams to hand out to staff together with a small card bearing a message. The message says – and I’m paraphrasing here – ‘We’re going to lower the electric blinds every day from 18:00 until 11:00 the next day and that’s all, but don’t open any windows. Have an ice cream. Be happy.’
I have an electric fan on my desk that I bought last summer and I was the envy of the entire office. Little did they realise that this is essential kit for me. Without it I would dissolve into an oily pool of sweat and no-one wants that on their carpets. I still have the fan on my desk, so I’m prepared for summer, but my colleagues have to make do with a conciliatory ice cream. I decided to accept the produce of peace and approached the trolley to select mine from a pile of local confectionery. My colleague had already chosen his ice cream and held it up to me as an example. ‘This has chocolate on it’ he said. But I decided that chocolate-covered ice cream was too mundane and opted instead for and interesting ice lolly named ‘Kung Fu’. Say what now? Why ‘Kung Fu?’ Is this the first choice of martial artists throughout Denmark?
I found out, after tasting it, that it has a kick like a mule. Perhaps that’s the connection. Some genius in the manufacturers product department hit on the idea of ‘lemonade ice lolly covered in liquorice ice lolly and the whole awful concoction laminated with what is described on the wrapper as ‘salmiakovertræk’. The only translation I could find on Google translate is for the phrase ‘salmiak over’. This, translated, means ‘ammonia above’. It didn’t taste as strong as ammonia, but perhaps they had toned down the ammonia content. It was, however, also unpleasant. After the horrifying first taste of liquorice in an ice lolly I forced myself to eat more so as not to appear ungrateful for the free treat. I discovered that, after I had eaten half the lolly, every extremity of my mouth was mercifully numbed by the ice, so I could no longer taste anything anyway. Then it was quite pleasant. Continuing the analogy then between the name ‘Kung Fu’ and the ice lolly itself, it gives the consumer a sharp kick after which the sensations are dulled and the horror of the moment is forgotten. Let’s face it. This type of ice lolly is typically handed out at childrens’ birthday parties and none of them would complain, because their little taste buds are already shot to hell from all the sugar they’ve consumed up to that point. The conclusion is that no-one would willingly buy something so dreadful. Having said that, perhaps you would because you don’t know any better.
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