Show Me The Money: Hot Dogs And Independence - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Show Me The Money: Hot Dogs And Independence

Show Me The Money: Hot Dogs And Independence

Published June 2, 2017

Joanna Smith

Until the mid-to-late 19th century, most financial transactions in Iceland were conducted in vaðmál (homespun wool). However, since 1922, Iceland has issued its own currency, the króna. Iceland never being the best at economic stability, the króna has lost significant value every decade since its initial issue, and in 1981 we decided to cut a couple of zeros from it, introducing the current króna. So, let’s meet the…

500 Króna Note

Every Icelandic banknote depicts a significant person in the nation’s history (the coins depict significant fish). The little red 500 króna bill—the lowest denomination of Icelandic paper money—portrays 19th century politician Jón Sigurðsson. He is renowned across Iceland as the man who resisted Denmark’s constitutional reform which, in turn, paved the way for Icelandic independence. In fact, he’s possibly the most polite revolutionary in history, as he managed to do all this without once being arrested, or beheading anyone. He did however contract syphilis. For this (well, sans the syphilis), not only has be been honoured with his image on the 500 króna banknote, but Iceland’s independence day and national holiday, June 17th, is also, and not by chance, Jón’s birthday.

So What’s It Worth?

Sorry Jón, but you’re not actually worth that much. Currently, 500 króna is worth €4.50, $5, and the post-Brexit sterling comes in at £3.90. You can spend your not-so-valuable note on a cup of coffee (don’t expect much change), but I’m afraid it won’t get you anything stronger. Don’t worry: you can drown your sorrows in hot dogs instead, with most pylsur costing between 300 and 450 ISK. I mean, I say “ drown,” but 500 króna will get you a grand total of one, so savour it.

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