Norwegian word of the day: Sukkergris

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 25 Aug, 2022 Updated Thu 25 Aug 2022 15:34 CEST
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Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

If you're a fan of sugary snacks or are known for having a sweet tooth, you could find yourself described as today's word. 

What is sukkergris? 

The word comes from sukker ("sugar") and gris (pig), meaning "sugar-pig". It doesn't refer to a real pig. However, marzipan pigs are a popular treat in Norway at Christmas (marsipan gris). 

The marzipan pigs are linked to a popular game. Riskrem or "rice porridge" is a creamy dessert served cold with a fruit-based coulis drizzled on top. A shaved almond is often hidden in the serving bowl filled with riskrem. And whoever discovers the almond in their bowl receives a traditional pig made out of marzipan as their prize. 

Sukkergris can also have a more figurative meaning, akin to "sweet tooth" in English: a person with a particular fondness for cakes, sweets, candy, or any other sweet-tasting, sugary products.

We're unsure of the origins of this second meaning: did the edible "sugar pig" come first, and the adjective version come about as a description of people who like to eat them? Or does the use of "pig" in relation to a liking for sugar reflect the pig's bad reputation as a greedy animal?

If you know the answer to the above, let me know.

Why do I need to know sukkergris?

Without wanting to get too far into the realms of generalisation, Norwegians are mostly health-conscious, but they do have a weak spot for cakes (don't we all?). Cakes play an important role in birthdays as well as other occasions.

In kindergartens, it's common for parents to send a cake to be shared with the class. Some workplaces also have this practice, but it's usually for milestone birthdays with the company covering the cake. 

Unlike neighbouring Sweden, Norway does not have the practice of fika, a daily short break from work during which coffee and cake are consumed. But cakes still make very regular appearances at workplaces.

Use it like this: 

Jeg spiser generelt sunt og er veldig aktiv i løpetreningen, men jeg er en dårligere sukkergris. Jeg kan rett og slett ikke si nei til is.

I eat healthily in general and am very focused on my running, but I'm a terrible sweet tooth. I simply can't say no to ice cream.

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Frazer Norwell 2022/08/25 15:34

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