Lifestyle / Opinion / Travel

What is Scandinavian? Absolutely Nothing…


In a promo last week, flag-carrier SAS created an enormous backlash by suggesting ‘absolutely nothing’ is Scandinavian…

Xander Brett

It’s an odd situation when a flag carrier succeeds in demeaning the countries it represents. SAS, the national airline for Norway, Sweden and Denmark, released an advert last week claiming every well-known Scandinavian icon is in fact a foreign import. The promo, entitled ‘What is Truly Scandinavian?’, was intended to portray a globalist message – with Scandinavians bringing the best of the world back home – but instead unleashed a backlash. With half a million views in hours, criticism from the far-right was so quick SAS believe they were the victim of a hack. Then, on 13th February a street near the agency that produced the promo was shut down when the company received a bomb threat.

Smørrebrød In the seventeenth century, during a trip to Holland, British naturalist John Ray observed strips of beef eaten on bread and butter. This was known as belegd broodje and was the precursor to Scandinavia’s open sandwiches

Midsommar German or Swedish? Or just Pagan…

The paperclip The Norwegian Johan Vaaler has been erroneously identified as its inventor. But, according to the Early Office Museum, the first patent was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fray.

Meatballs Origins unknown. They’ve become part of so many cuisines. But the addition of lingonberries and pickled cucumber is definitely Swedish.

Danish pastries There’s no question ‘Danishes’ are Austrian. In fact, even the Danes admit that. In Denmark they’re known as wienerbrød (‘Vienna bread’).

Undoubtedly, patronising the nations it represents exposes SAS to nationalists, and even to liberals their message seems strange. But the company’s intentions were clear. Far from demeaning cultures, they sought to celebrate countries whose pride is to take ideas and make them their own. That the airline released a second, ‘clearer’ trail, only proves their determination to make the message work.

This article has also been published in Scan Magazine.

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