Food of Iceland: Prince Póló - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Food of Iceland: Prince Póló

Food of Iceland: Prince Póló

Valur Grettisson
Photos by
innes.is

The rule in Iceland before 1990 was basically this: If it’s good, it’s probably banned. For example, beer was banned until 1989. It didn’t change the fact that Icelanders were free to get shitfaced on undrinkable hard liquor. But the government thought that beer would really screw up the nation and we would end up as useless drunks should it ever be legalised. The government had even a more sinister take on candy.

There were strict rules about importing sweets to Iceland until the 80s. The result was that baby boomers thought that oranges and apples were candy, not disgusting fruits.

But the candy pioneers had a trick up their sleeve — the “biscuit” Prince Polo.

Known colloquially as “Prins Póló,” this fairly basic chocolate bar hails from the beautiful nation of in Poland, and first hit the shelves there in 1955. That same year, Iceland made a trade deal with Poland, wherein they got our fish, and well, we got whatever we hadn’t already banned from being imported to the country. This was obviously a complicated task. Although Icelanders would have appreciated the tasty Polish beer Żywiec, we needed to find something Icelanders were interested in buying.

The wholesaler, Ásbjörn Ólafsson, found out that Prince Polo was not only a chocolate, but also a biscuit — a clever move that allowed him to circumvent the rules of the fun police in government. His scheme worked. The “biscuit” was a smash hit and still is. In the year 2014 the average person ate half a kilo of these sweet rebellious suckers.


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