Swedish fish are the ultimate candy for hikers


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If Halloween is the best night of the year for candy-loving kids, the next day is when the sweet-toothed adults hit the jackpot. Overnight, entire aisles of candy are unmarked, selling out at 50-90%. It’s a great day to stock up on hiking fuel. And this year, I’m going to stock up on Swedish fish.

My love for Swedish fish as a hiking snack started on Classic Fjallraven, a brand-organized weekend group hike along the spine of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. At the refreshment posts along the route, tables overflowed with loose Scandinavian-themed gummies. I grabbed them in handfuls (the pre-Covid world was a different place), nibbling them through mountain passes and water breaks.

Now on long backpacking trips, trail runs, ski tours, or basically any other adventure, Swedish fish are my secret weapon. Why? Let me explain why I’m raiding my local grocery store for these — and why you should, too.

They are pure sugar

Admittedly, that’s not particularly unique — most candy is just sugar, after all, and it’s not usually something you brag about when talking about nutrition. But when you need energy, and fast, taking a dose of simple carbs is a quick way to get it, hence all the energy gels and blocks at your local REI. But not all sugars are the same: Like our friends at Outside described in a recent article on energy gels, research suggests that a combination of glucose and fructose can boost endurance in athletes without causing stomach issues. One of the main ingredients in Swedish fish is invert sugar, which is, you guessed it, a combination of glucose and fructose. No wonder these erasers are so soft.

They are cheap

Even when not on sale, Swedish fish costs only a fraction of the price of specially designed energy chews. Clif Shot Blocks retailing for about 92 cents an ounce; Swedish fish, about 34 cents, is comparable to other sweets. Add that post-Halloween discount to that, and you can stock up for a season of backpacking in one go. (Just be sure to store them in an airtight container; no one likes tough, dried-out gummies.)

They are covered in wax

OK, stay with me on this one: it’s the best thing about Swedish fish. Like many candies, they are coated in carnauba wax, a palm-derived substance that confectioners use to give their creations that eye-catching shine consumers love. Thanks to this, you can keep them almost anywhere without making a sticky mess: I decanted them into the breast pockets of my shell on ski tours, where they stayed just warm enough to be edible, and the hid in my belt pockets on backpacking trips. Until the weather is warm enough to melt them, they won’t pick up dust or crumbs from other foods like gummy bears do. (Pick a reasonably clean spot, though.) Bonus: No need for single-serving plastic means less waste and less micro-waste to carry around.

So save your M&Ms and Skittles: I’ll be raising my blood sugar with a healthy dose of these fruity, chewy candies on my hikes this fall and winter. Give it a try, and you might find yourself fishing for them too.


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