Gustaf Unonius, New Upsala and the Scandinavian Parish

26 04 2022

The first Swedish colony in Wisconsin, the second in the United States was established at the east shore of Pine Lake in Chenequa, Wisconsin. The young founder Gustaf Unonius came here in 1841 together with his wife and a few friends claimed land and built a log cabin. Many more Swedes followed and the New Upsala settlement was formed. As the settlement grew with more immigration from Scandinavia, the Scandinavian Parish at Pine Lake was founded. Partly based on letters from Unonius and other pioneer settlers and the Unonius memoirs published in 1862 waves of immigration from Scandinavia followed especially in the 1860’s and 1880’s. In 1864 the Pine Lake Scandinavian Church became known as the Holy Innocents Church, which a hundred plus years later merged with Grace Episcopal Church and together they built a new church which eventually was named St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church.

1841 Pine Lake from Gustaf Unonius memoirs

Fika meeting, May 14 at 1:30 PM at St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church in Hartland.

This fascinating pioneer and church history has been the research topic of a SAHSWI Historical Project team that was initiated to recognize it with an official Wisconsin State Historical marker. The team will present the project and the story at the “fika” meeting. After the presentation participants will enjoy fika, coffee or tea with treats. The meeting is open to the public.

St Anskar’s Episcopal Church is located at N48W31340 Hill Rd, St Hwy 83 in Hartland.

Exit from Hwy 16 to State Road 83 North, follow 83 for 1/4 mile, enter driveway on the right from 83

Martha Bergland presented the life of Thure Kumlien

31 03 2022

Like finding a rare orchid, Martha Bergland has unveiled a rare and important naturalist during the early settlement years in Wisconsin. Fellow Swede Carl Linnaeus, considered the ‘Father of Botany‘, would have nodded in approval at Thure Kumlien’s contributions in helping us understand the biological riches found in early Wisconsin” (Reference Tom Anderson, author of Learning Nature by a Country Road)

SAHSWI Board member and award-winning author Martha Bergland introduced her newest book “The Birdman of Koshkonong, The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien” in the society’s first fika meeting in two years. The March 12, 2022, meeting was held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Milwaukee with about 50 people attending, among them Betsy D’onofrio and Susan Binzel, great granddaughters of Thure Kumlien.

Martha transported us back to his life and community in 1843 and the contributions he made to Wisconsin and the world as a Swedish immigrant to Wisconsin. Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin’s earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the University of Wisconsin and became the first curator of the new Milwaukee Public Museum.

The Birdman of Koshkonong published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press is available for sale directly from Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Amazon, or your local bookstore. An excerpt of the book was published in the Summer 2021 issue of Wisconsin magazine of history.

After the presentation Marjorie Jothen’s 103rd birthday was celebrated to the tunes of Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson’s violins and the voices of meeting attendees, Happy Birthday both in English and in Swedish. Carol also baked a special birthday cake for Marge to share with everyone. Coffee and treats were served, and everybody enjoyed this first fika meeting in 2 years.

Martha’s presentation was held in the Sanctuary. Celebrating Marge with fika, from left Bev Wenzel, Kristin Laufer, Marge, and Carol Gustafson.

Our Swedish Heritage in focus

27 01 2022

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc. (SAHSWI) is a non-profit volunteer organization focusing on the history of Swedish immigration to Wisconsin and the heritage of cultural Swedish traditions and everyday life, and the impact people of Swedish descent have made.

ZOOM meeting Thursday, February 10, 7 PM Society board and committee members presented the organization programs, projects and activities.

Saint Knut’s Day and SAHSWI update

13 01 2022

Happy St. Knut’s Day! Today January 13th marks the end of the Christmas season in Sweden, today is the day the Christmas tree should be “plundered” and thrown out, it is the 20th day after Christmas. Saint Knut’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Knut, is a traditional festival celebrated in Sweden and Finland on January 13. Christmas trees are taken down on “tjugondag Knut”, and the candies and cookies that decorated the tree are eaten. The feast held during this event is called a Knut’s party. It’s the party to Dance Out Christmas.

See the source image
Knut’s dance or “Dancing out Christmas”, by Swedish artist Hugo Hamilton (1802–1871)

Maybe this year there are not many St. Knut’s Day dance parties due to the continuous pandemic outbreaks. Once again, the hopes of an end to the Corona Virus pandemic were crushed. Another variant, record infection cases, with a glimmer of hope, it is not as severe as the other strands.

SAHSWI update

Considering the rapid surge of Covid 19 infections mostly of the Omicron variant the SAHSWI board has decided to postpone the January meeting at Martin Luther church until it can safely be conducted. The current belief or hope is that the Omicron will run its course by the end of February, so the Fika meeting scheduled at Martin Luther on March 12, is still on. The programming will be adjusted and the topic for the meeting will be announced at a later date. In addition, on Thursday February 10 at 7 PM the plan is to have a ZOOM meeting for members and others interested to present information about SAHSWI, upcoming plans, and the new meeting place Martin Luther church. 

Hopefully the remaining 2022 general meeting schedule can be maintained as follows:

  • March 12, 1:30 p.m. – Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • May 14, 1:30 p.m. – Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • June 26, 1 p.m. – Midsommar Celebration, Heidelberg Park, Glendale
  • October 1,– Scandinavian Festival, Ronald Reagan School, New Berlin
  • October 22, 1:30 p.m. – Annual Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • December 11, 5 p.m.– Lucia Whitnall Park Lutheran Church

In addition, there will be committee and project meetings

Do you have any ideas of topics to be addressed by SAHSWI, do you know of a story, or any special tradition related to our Swedish heritage? Please don’t hesitate to bring it up. Respond to this blog or send an e-mail to

Santa Lucia Day celebration

21 12 2021

What a beautiful day it was. We all came together to celebrate Saint Lucia, the Sicilian maiden who gave her life for her faith and became a saint. Saint Lucia was helping the Christians hiding in the catacombs during the terror under the Roman empire. In order to bring with her as many supplies as possible, she needed to have both hands free. She solved this problem by attaching candles to a wreath on her head.

Saint Lucia came to Sweden in the late 1700’s to bring light and feed the poor in the cold winter darkness of December 13. In 1929 the first Lucia celebration was held in Stockholm, Sweden, and has since developed to be one of the most important traditions there.

The 2021 Lucia celebration at the Whitnall Park Lutheran Church in Hales Corners Wisconsin was attended by over 150 people.

The celebration began with children and the young adults from the area performing the Lucia program in the church sanctuary under the direction of Sonia Hummel.

As the saint Lucia did in the 4th century the SAHSWI Lucia Grace Katsekes was wearing a wreath with live candles while the procession was singing the beautiful Lucia song and Swedish carols and reading poetry, a poem for each candle in the Lucia crown.

The story of Lucia was told by member, and Linde Lodge President Liza Ekstrand. She introduced Lucia and each reader of the candle poems;

The Lucia procession include Lucia and her Attendants (Tärnor), the Star Boys (Stjärngossar), the Gingerbread men (Pepparkaksgubbar) and the little Santas (Tomtar)

Following the Lucia program, a Swedish Christmas Smorgasbord (Julbord) was served including food and pastries all donated by SAHSWI members and people attending the celebration. The children now changed into Swedish traditional costumes and performed folkdances around the Christmas Tree (Julgran). Soon they were joined by others.

As the dance around the Julgran continued, all of a sudden Jultomten (Santa) appeared to the great joy of the children. He handed out candy canes and little jingle bells adding to the festive atmosphere.

Another Lucia day in Wisconsin was coming to an end. How rewarding it was to see the children’s smiles. After two years of “social distancing” everybody could come together and celebrate the old fashioned way. A sigh of relief from the organizers, after a few weeks of preparation, it all turned out to be a great Lucia Day here in Wisconsin.


  • to Sonia Hummel, the participants in the Lucia program and everyone helping out
  • to everyone helping to organize, providing the printed program and song sheets, get all the supplies, setting up and serving the food, and later cleaning up, doing the dishes, etc.
  • to everyone bringing and donating the food
  • to Santa for coming and bringing more joy to the children
  • to everyone that attended the 2021 SAHSWI Lucia Day Celebration

For many Swedes the Lucia Day marks the beginning of the Christmas season. From all of us at the Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin we wish you

Illustration “Gnomes” Swedish Christmas by Lars Carlsson

2021 SAHSWI Annual Meeting

25 10 2021

The annual meeting 2021 was held via ZOOM (due to the surge of Covid 19 Delta variant) on Thursday October 21 at 7 PM. First an introduction video was played and then past year activities and annual committee reports were reviewed.

The annual meeting elected two directors to serve on the board, Karin Konrad elected for a second 3 year term and Janet Taylor for her first 3-year term. They are congratulated and we thank them for their support.

The photo video included pictures from the past year programs and historical projects. Background music features the adopted signature song for the society “Hälsa Dom Där Hemma” (Greet those back home) popular Swedish immigrant song during the early 20th century. This version is sung by Ann Charlotte Harvey, live recording from the Snoose Boulevard Festival (1973), introduced by Carol Gustafson and Mary Stetson at the March fika Zoom meeting.

A review of the annual reports followed

In addition to the ZOOM meetings and Midsommar celebration the Society activities included 2 projects; the first a reboot of Swedish Genealogy, which summarized material from the Swedish Genealogy Research Group work from the past with a listing of websites now available to support research of Swedish ancestry.

The second project is a historical project to honor the first Swedish Settlement in Wisconsin started by Gustaf Unonius in 1841 and the Scandinavian Parish that evolved with an official State of Wisconsin Historical Marker. These projects are reviewed in the following presentation.

As the last item on the agenda a discussion whether the planned Lucia celebration for December 12 to be held at Whitnall Park Lutheran church can still safely happen. A decision was made to keep it in the plans, however, with a reassessment by the board by November 13.

I like to thank all Members that have participated in our program for the past year, our Zoom meeting Presenters and Entertainers, all Volunteers at the Midsommar celebration, our Swedish Genealogy Research Group members, our Historical Project Team members, and finally I like to thank our Board Members and Committee Chairs for their dedicated support of our historical society.

Jan Ehrengren, President, Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc.

New Upsala Historical Marker is moved

23 08 2021

18th of June 1948 the Swedish Pioneer Centennial Commission celebrated the Wisconsin state centennial mark by commemorate New Upsala, the first Swedish settlement in Wisconsin, and its founder Gustaf Unonius with an historical marker. The marker located on the property at Pine Lake, Wisconsin, that Gustaf Unonius had claimed when he arrived with wife and friends in 1841. Over the 73 years since the unveiling event the marker has been hidden due to vegetation growth, so most people have been unaware of it.

A newspaper article from June 1948 describes the unveiling event

As a part of the project to further honor Unonius, New Upsala settlement, and the Scandinavian Parish at Pine Lake with an official State Historical marker it was decided together with Chenequa Village to move the marker from the original location just west of highway 83 across the road to the Chenequa Village property. This will preserve access to the marker, so interested people can visit the site and view the marker in recognition of the first Swedish colony in Wisconsin and the early history of Chenequa.

Early Sunday morning, August 22nd, the move was realized. Dan Schlise, owner and President of Garden Gate Nursery and Landscaping in Hartland moved the 2000 lbs boulder to its new location, which previously had been prepared by Chenequa Village Forestry Department.

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, ( appreciate all the help in order realize the move, John Yewer, once long time resident of Chenequa, for planning, preparation and coordination; Dan Schlise, Garden Gate, for the careful and safe move of the marker; Dan Neumer, Chenequa Police Chief, for organizing the support from Chenequa Village; and Cody Lincoln, Chenequa Forestry Department for preparing the new site and clean-up of the old site.

Swedish Genealogy

18 07 2021

The immigration of Swedes to Wisconsin started in 1840’s, and the 1850 census reported 88 Wisconsin residents born in Sweden. During the 1850’s the number increased to 673. The first big wave came in the late 1860’s, and the second in the 1880’s. In 2011 there were 149,377 residents claiming Swedish heritage.

Finding one’s Swedish roots can be an interesting as well as a challenging task. SAHSWI’s Swedish Genealogy Research Group (SGRG) has been collaborating and supporting this effort for many years. The good news is that the resources for doing genealogical research today has been greatly improved as records have been digitized and made available in databases on-line.

A new main page for Swedish Genealogy is being added to our website to include suggestions from our SGRG leader Marge Jothen and Bev Wenzel to assist beginning Swedish researchers. In addition, a packet of more intensive information is being compiled with suggestions from John Engel, Eva and Roger Wall and other member researchers and will include language notes and typing of Swedish vowels, Swedish websites, occupational titles, patronymics and many other topics. This packet will be shared with members of SAHSWI and SGRG. Please consider joining SAHSWI by completing the membership application in the “About Us” heading (membership). Be sure to indicate your interest in Swedish Genealogy Research Group and Bev Wenzel will include you in all future SGRG mailings, packet material being compiled and continuing activities.

To go to the Swedish Genealogy page press the link below.

Swedish Genealogy | Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin (

2021 Scandinavian Midsommar celebration

13 07 2021

held on on Sunday, June 27, 2021 in Heidelberg Park, Glendale, WI

After over a year of isolation due to the Covid-19 virus about 130 people were able to join in the traditional Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration.

The celebration began with decorating and then a formal procession led by Goda Vänner violinists Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson. The pole was raised and the dancing could begin. Pictures provided by SAHSWI member Bob Stetson.

Participants enjoyed making and wearing the flower crowns.

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Everybody joining in a dance around the Midsommar Pole….

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…and then an afternoon of games and entertainment by Goda Vänner and Lykkeringen Dancers

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Goda Vänner, Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson

Norwegian Lykkeringen Dancers

Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage

6 04 2020

The program Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage meeting was scheduled for the Saturday, March 14th, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak the meeting had to be cancelled.  Barbara Froemming, SAHSWI President and main presenter of the meeting, has shared the information and stories about the different dishes that were to be discussed. As we don’t know how long the pandemic will last, we will share the information, and maybe instead of a sample of each dish, you can prepare it at your own leisure and enjoy it at home.

Several of SAHSWI members were involved in this program to present their favorite Swedish dish, the history, and their story behind it. Each of these are presented below. A common version of the recipes is attached here.

The Swedish dishes prepared for the meeting.

1. Irene Roberts and her cousin, Janet Taylor, have memories of Kroppkakor.

Our Swedish heritage came through our grandfather who emigrated from the Umeå area in his early twenties, so information about Swedish food (and recipes in particular) was scanty.  However, about 10 years later, our grandfather sponsored two nephews emigrating from the same region.  One of them, Erik, married Hilda, who also emigrated from Sweden.  Hilda would occasionally make Kroppkakor and invite the extended family to share them.  I have a distinct memory of one of these events, when I was around the age of nine.  Dinner consisted of just Kroppkakor which appeared to me as glossy baseballs swimming in melted butter (with some lingonberry jam on the side).  The flavor was delicious, the texture firm yet silky, and there were no vegetables lurking on the side… I was hooked!!  

Also remarkable to my nine-year-old self was the strange ritual to create these wonders.  Hilda described an arduous process, beginning the previous day, of grating potatoes and hanging them in cheesecloth to extract the starch – then creating these silky and solid balls wrapped around a savory nugget of meat and spices. Between Hilda’s flair for drama and her heavily accented Swedish (Erik and Hilda both spent their youth in Sweden and spoke Swedish at home), the Kroppkakor grew to mythical proportions in my young mind.  Happily, in recent years, Janet and I have discovered a couple of sources for these delicacies.  Recipes, however, have been hard to find and those that match Hilda’s extensive process are very elusive.  But, thanks to Google, I’ve found that Kroppkakor recipes vary from region to region, and Hilda’s laborious process is similar to that practiced today in Öland.

The history: Potatoes have been a staple food in Sweden since the 1700’s, when it was discovered that alcohol could be readily distilled from them, they were widely cultivated. Potato dumplings are eaten throughout the country but with different names.  Kroppkakor (translated “Body Cakes”) are potato dumplings traditionally common in southern regions of Sweden:  Öland, Småland, Gotland, and Blekinge. The dumplings are typically filled with pork and onion, although there are many varieties, other fillings include bacon and mushrooms. Very popular are Kroppkakor from Öland using grated raw potatoes mixed with some boiled potatoes and yellow onions and bacon.

In “Sweden Regional Recipes,” potato dumplings were listed in Norrbotten and Västerbotten as Piteå potato dumplings – Pitepalt.

Kroppkakor are also traditionally eaten in March in the student town of Uppsala, where the student society Kalmar Nation arranges a Kroppkakegasque, a formal dinner honoring the dish which includes an eating competition

2. Fred Sommer’s favorite Swedish dish is Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs).  Fred has been bringing Swedish meatballs as a treat to SAHSWI meetings coffee hour.

“Everybody likes my Swedish meatballs so I decide to keep sharing them, and they keep asking me for more, so for all the meetings I bring more”

The history of Swedish meatballs reveals (according to some sources) that they are not Swedish at all. The story is that King Karl XII, who reigned as King of Sweden from 1697 to 1718, brought “kofte” home from Turkey, where he lived from 1709 to 1714. These were then adapted to the Swedish way of life as “Köttbullar”. (reference

Swedish meatballs, or Köttbullar, must be prepared, above all, with love. Mammas Köttbullar (Mom’s meatballs’) is a widespread concept in Sweden, and each mom has her favorite recipe.

Typically, Köttbullar are made with a mix of ground pork and beef, eggs, breadcrumbs or potato, and a little bit of milk together with spices salt, pepper and most important,  allspice. The most common way to serve is with mashed potatoes, cream sauce, and lingonberries or lingonberry jam.  Meatballs and macaroni with ketchup are popular among children.

3. Barbara Froemming’s landmark Swedish dish is Jansons Frestelse (Janson’s Temtation).

“My experience with Janssons Frestelse is strictly in the United States.  It has frequently been included in Swedish smögåsbörds, for example, at IKEA.  Also, when I was asking our members to tell me about traditional Swedish recipes, it was often mentioned.”

Jansons Frestelse is a creamy potato and fish gratin.  What makes the dish special is the ansjovis which are sprat filets cured in a spiced brine.  They are different from Mediterranean anchovies. Janson’s Frestelse is a classic dish traditionally served in Sweden at big parties such as weddings and major birthday celebrations as a late-night meal before guests leave. Today you will find it being included in a typical Swedish Smorgasbord.

History:  It is said that this creamy potato and fish gratin was named for a food-loving opera singer from the early 1900s called Mr Janzon.  The recipe was first published in 1940 and quickly became established as a classic of the Swedish dinner table.  It is now so popular that no julbord or smörgåsbord would be complete without it (

Craig Claiborne (New York Times) claims that Jansons Frestelse was actually created in this country, not in Sweden.  He thinks it was named after a 19th century religious leader, Erik Janson, who brought his followers to America and established the community called Bishop Hill in Illinois.  He preached staunchly against the pleasures of the flesh and appetite but had a weakness for this casserole dish.  (

Another version of the name origin is from Gunnar Stigmark who says the name was borrowed from the film Janssons frestelse (1928) featuring the popular actor Edvin Adolphson, as a name for this dish coined by Stigmark’s mother and hired cooking lady for the particular occasion of a society dinner, whence it spread to other households and eventually into cookbooks.  (Wikipedia)

4. Karin Konrad recalls a dessert creation that is a Swedish pancake (Pannkaka) with whipped cream and Lingonberries rolled up inside.

“When I was growing up, my family would go to the west coast of Sweden every summer for a couple of weeks. My dad worked for the railroad so we could ride on the train for free. It took about 12 hours to get there. Sometimes on the way home we would stop in Stockholm to visit my two aunts who lived there. One of them had a very beautiful house and always invited us for lunch or dinner. She would sometimes serve these pancakes with whipped cream mixed lingonberries and then rolled up as a dessert with some coffee. I guess they were more like crepes. I had never seen them served this way before and thought it was such a treat.”

In Sweden today Swedish pancakes are traditionally eaten as a dessert after yellow pea soup on Thursdays together with a warm glass of Swedish Punch. (A unique sweet liqueur)

History. Swedish pancakes have probably existed in Sweden since ancient times. They were first mentioned in a publication of Olaus Petri 1538. It was not as easy to make pancakes in the olden days as it is today. Because before the stove existed you had to use a frying pan on three legs. It was placed above a fire and filled with a batter consisting of eggs, flour, milk, sugar and salt. But when the wood stove arrived, it quickly became possible to use frying pans to cook them.

5. Carol Gustafson has experienced a fancy sandwich creation called Smörgåstårta.

“During my first visit to Sweden a Smorgåstårta was our luncheon at Snugge, Christina Nilsson’s and my family homestead.  It’s great for a special lunch, brunch, a shower, or potluck.  It’s important to use a sturdy bread. The fillings are up to you; with a recommended 3 fillings.  Decorating the top of the cake with fresh herbs and vegetables should include what is in the cake, i.e. smoked salmon, shrimp, hard boiled eggs.  I have seen this cake in every shape and size.  It’s up to your own creativity and how many you are serving.

History. A man named Gunnar Sjödahl claimed to have invented Smörgåstårta in a coffeehouse in Östersund, Sweden.  It is normally made up of several layers of white or light rye bread with creamy fillings in between. The fillings and toppings may vary, however most common are egg and mayonnaise as the base, and shrimp, smoked salmon, ham, cheese, as the fillings, and decorated on top with fresh dill. Smörgåstårta is served cold and cut like a dessert cake and is a common dish in Sweden at spring and summer festivities. Often it is served with beer and aquavit.

6. Jan Ehrengren recalls having hårt bröd (Knäckebröd) with eggs and kaviar for breakfast.

I grew up in Sweden on a farm outside of Uppsala during 1950’s and 60’s. Served with all meals were “hårt bröd” (crisp bread), butter, and a block cheese (carved with a cheese slicer (osthyvel)). In addition, for breakfast a tube of Kaviar, and boiled eggs. In the morning I had hårt bröd with eggs and kaviar for breakfast. Today, when I visit family in Sweden, they still have this for breakfast, sometimes they skip the hårt bröd, and just put the Kalles Kaviar directly on the egg.”

History. Knäckebröd history goes back 500 year and has been prepared commercially since 1850. The bread was traditionally baked with rye flour, salt and water a couple of times a year. The texture is bubbly which was done through adding ice in the dough. The final shape were round pieces about 8” diameter with a whole in the middle, which made it possible to store the bread on sticks in the rafter of the house. Now Knäckebröd is popular in all shapes and sizes and with varying grains and seasonings.

Kaviar’s main ingredient is cod roe that is lightly smoked and seasoned with sugar and salt, then mixed into a paste with potato starch, tomato paste and vegetable oil.  The taste is like a creamy paste with slightly salty fishy taste. The Kaviar is sold in tubes and although there are many different brands the most known around the world is Kalles Kaviar.

History of Kalles Kaviar:

1850 – Salted cod roe became popular to eat in Sweden.

1910 – By accident oil is mixed into the cod roe to create a new type of kaviar

1954 – A local producer and seller of kaviar sells his recipe to Abba who decides to sell the kaviar in tubes.  It sells well, especially among children and young people.  Abba’s ad agency suggests putting a child with a common name on the tube.  They also decide to use yellow and blue (for the Swedish flag) as the colors. The Abba CEO’s son Karl Almen is drawn from a photo and put on the tube.  The name Kalle which is the nickname for Karl became the name used for the Kaviar, Kalles Kaviar.

1955 – More than a million tubes were sold in the first year (the population of Sweden was little more than 7 million at that time) and sales today is still increasing.

7. Sonia Hummel enjoys baking Kanelbullar (Cinnamon bun).

History:  Kanelbullar are assumed to have originated from Sweden. Cinnamon came from Sri Lanka over 2,000 years ago, and the Romans became responsible for the spreading of the spice, using it to accent incense and wine.

Around the mid-1700’s, Northern European bakers began mastering super-rich, butter-infused yeast doughs. The French shaped them into buns, followed by the Dutch frying them in oil. Around this time, the British invented the Chelsea bun, a type of currant bun; all while the Germans developed the schnecken, a bun rolled with sugar and currants. These buns laid the groundwork for the Swedish to add cinnamon creating the very first cinnamon rolls.

In 2010, the average Swede ate the on the average 316 Kanelbullar according to the Swedish Board of Agriculture and Statistics. In total, that is 317 million pounds of cinnamon buns consumed by the citizens of Sweden!

October 4 is known as International Cinnamon Roll Day, or kanelbullens dag. The holiday was invented in 1999 by the Swedish Home Baking Council (Hembakningsrådet), to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Since then, cinnamon rolls have spread throughout the world, changing in diameter depending on where they travel. One of the largest cinnamon rolls can be found in Haga, an area of Gothenburg, Sweden. Called Hagabullar – they are usually 12 inches in diameter.

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin Swedish Heritage food.

What is your favorite Swedish dish brought to Wisconsin? If you have a special memory with Swedish food and maybe a story. Do you have the recipe? If you do have any of this please send a note to and we will update your food story and recipe on the website

Thanks to Kurt Anderson for his memories of Swedish food and stories.

I grew up on Swedish food and was particularly fond of Swedish “coffee cake” or Swedish cinnamon buns and loaves because my mother baked it regularly.   All four of my grandparents emigrated from Sweden and met in Chicago where my parents were born, and I was born.  As a very young child, I lived in a neighborhood on Chicago’s south side called Roseland which had a lot of Swedish immigrants.
For Christmas Eve every year, my wife (Chinese) will prepare a Swedish meal for dinner.  It typically includes Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, potato sausage, Swedish rye bread, rice pudding, potatoes and marinated salmon.  For breakfast, she typically has made Swedish skorpa which is lot like a biscotti.  I loved to dip it in coffee to make it less hard and easier to eat.  As a consequence, I was drinking coffee from a very young age (probably 6 years old).
Someone mentioned Swedish knäckebröd.  I remember that my parents were trying to lose weight in their 50’s.  One of their solutions was to eat this food with marinated salmon on top.

Kurt  Anderson