A brief history of the Kvikk Lunsj phenomenon

Heidi Håvan Grosch

For many of us our Easter tradition includes sitting down to a big Easter dinner with the extended family. Perhaps there is an Easter egg hunt, deviled eggs or ham are served, and as per usual with such gatherings, you probably eat too much. Norwegians’ traditional family Easter gathering is a bit different. Many flock to cabins in the mountains for one final (and often obligatory) winter ski or to a cabin by water to welcome in the spring. Long hikes on foot or on skis (depending on the conditions) are the norm, and in the backpack go the essentials: coffee, oranges and… Kvikk Lunsj, Norway’s unofficial tursjokolade (tour chocolate).

Photo: Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosh Kvikk Lunsj and oranges are essentials for an Easter holiday in Norway

Photo: Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosh
Kvikk Lunsj and oranges are essentials for an Easter holiday in Norway

Created by the Freia Chocolate Company in 1937, Kvikk Lunsj (Quick lunch) is reminiscent of a Kit Kat bar with its wafer-covered chocolate divided into four sections; in 1999 Freia introduced Kvikk Lunsj in a large candy bar size as well. An interesting Wikipedia statistic says that on the average a Norwegian eats approximately nine Kvikk Lunsj bars every year, three of them during Easter…

One thing that makes Kvikk Lunsj special is its wrapper. During the 1960s, Freia started printing different hiking/tour maps inside (fjellvettreglene). Those, along with Kvikk Lunsj’s distinctive colors of red, yellow and green indicate as much as the appearance of daffodils and tulips that Spring is on its way.

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch Boxes of Kvikk Lunsj on display in the grocery stores are a sure herald of Spring.

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
Boxes of Kvikk Lunsj on display in the grocery stores are a sure herald of Spring.

A story from Freia’s website says that in a way, Kvikk Lunsj was born to be an outdoor chocolate. It is said that Johan Throne Holst, the founder of Freia, was out for a hike with a colleague. When they got lost Holst was chastised because for the first time ever he had forgotten to bring chocolate. Sundhet og styrke (wellness/wholeness and strength) became the motto for this new chocolate that was easy to carry and (rumor had it in the 1930s) had the same nutritional value as one egg and two slices of bread with butter. Production of Kvikk Lunsj only stopped during WWII (1941-1949) due to the lack of sugar and high-quality flour, but when production resumed, it was as popular as ever; case in point, when Norway hosted the Winter Olympics in 1952 over 10,000,000 Kvikk Lunsj candy bars were sold…

Fun websites about Kvikk Lunsj

www.kvikklunsj.no (the Kvikk Lunsj tour page; click on a picture to plan your next hiking or skiing Norwegian adventure!)

www.freia.no/sjokolade/freia-kvikk-lunsj/659 (Kvikk Lunsj history in Norwegian)

This article is a part of Heidi Håvan Grosch’s column Rønningen Ramblings, which appears a couple times a month in the Norwegian American Weekly.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 17, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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