Black Magic

Mr and Mrs. Colliander, both of whom were chemists, founded a salty liquorice company in Helsinki’s Haaga in 1951. To name their production company, they combined the word Haaga with ‘Numero Uno’ and followed the convention of the times to end pastil names with the suffix ’-ol’ (eg. Figarol and Pastirol). Thus they came up with the name Haganol.

The Collianders had developed a unique recipe that excluded the use of gum arabic and gelatine, which are common in most candy brands. Ever since – that is, over fifty years ­–, Apothecary’s Salmiac® has been manufactured using the same recipe.

In the beginning, the salmiac was sold without packaging to pharmacies, whose staff then packed the salmiac in small white paper bags. Today the candy is sold predominantly in small boxes that are packaged by hand, but one can still buy the salmiac in bulk from some pharmacies. Boxes of salmiac became quickly available in pharmacies in the early days. The label on the first Aopthecary’s Salmiac® read: “For cough and hoarseness”.

In addition to their traditional product, Oy Haganol Ab (Ltd.) began manufacturing liquid salmiac in the early 1990’s.  This liquid was used as a component in Alko’s (the national alcoholic beverage retailing monopoly) “Salmiakkikoskenkorva” (salmiac vodka), until it was banned as being “perniciously delicious” after it became a hit among the young people in Finland. (The salmiac vodka that is sold in Alko today is made from Alko’s own salmiac mixture.)

Today, the original salmiac liquid is supplied to industries that use it for instance as an ingredient of cough medicine. A thinner version of the original liquid, Haganol’s Salmiac Mixer, is sold in airport Tax Free shops, certain pharmacies and some speciality shops. The salmiac mixer is well suited not only for alcohol mixes, but also for baking, desserts or even for marinating a salmiac pork, to name just a few of the culinary possibilities.