Behind the popular peppermint rock, there is a strong woman. Amalia Eriksson from Gränna did not only create a beloved product but also managed to turn her life from despair to success.
The peppermint rock was invented in the middle of the 19th century and behind this success story, there is a poor widow. She resisted poverty and a society where men were privileged and women were not supposed to run businesses.
Amalia Eriksson’s life story
In the year of 1824, Amalia Eriksson is born in Jönköping. Her mother works as a maid and her dad as a farrier. When the cholera-hit Jönköping, ten-year-old Amalia suffered a terrible tragedy as she lost a parent and a sibling in the epidemic. Now, a tough life follows. The girl decides to follow her mother’s footsteps and works as a maid in Jönköping. When her employer decides to move to Gränna, Amalia comes along and it is here that her loneliness will take a turn, at least for a while.
As a matter of fact, it is in Gränna that Amalia meets the love of her life, the tailor Anders Eriksson. In 1857, they get married and it will not be long before the family gets extended. About a year after the wedding, the twins are born, but sadly enough, one of them is born dead. It is difficult to imagine how Amalia dealt with the grief over losing a child but also the happiness of bringing little Ida to the family. This happiness will not be for long, however, as Anders dies from dysentery about a week after the delivery. Once again, Amalia is alone and now, she does not only have herself to take care of but also her daughter Ida. Indeed, her life has not been easy and it has been told that she often spoke about her life story through the words “no one is more alone than me”.
Female business owner in the 19th century
Amalia must now find a way to support herself and her daughter. Despite hardships, she is determined to make it on her own.
19th century Sweden has a long way to go when it comes to equality between women and men. Women are excluded from the business life and are only allowed to start their own company if they can refer to certain social reasons. Here, Amalia sees an opportunity and submits an application with the wish of running a bakery. The application is approved, the company is started and it begins to sell sweets during the holiday seasons. It is also now that the peppermint rock is invented. In her kitchen, she bakes the now famous red and white candy and in her living room, the candy is then sold. She is skilled at baking and the peppermint rock becomes a success story.
The peppermint rock makes her rich and she also becomes an influential person for Gränna as a city, so influential that even Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg come to visit her bakery.
Amalia Eriksson’s life must be seen as long and eventful. In 1923, she dies at 99 years of age. Her daughter Ida continues her mother’s career path and bakes peppermint rocks until the year of 1945. Today, you can find them buried next to each other at Gränna’s graveyard.
The peppermint rock did not only turn Amalia’s life around as it is still popular today. You can visit peppermint rock bakeries to see how the baking is done. The red and white original is still being sold but now it is accompanied by a variety of different flavours and colours.
At Grenna Museum, there is a department with local history where you can see Amalia baking in her kitchen, among other things.