The History of the Cinnamon Bun
Neelam Varia takes us behind the scenes in celebration of Cinnamon Bun Day – October 4.
Living in Stockholm has had its ups and downs, but there are a few things I can wholeheartedly embrace. One being Cinnamon Bun Day, and the others of course being Waffle Day and Fat Tuesday (a day dedicated to semlor).
But why are cinnamon buns so important to Swedes?
Sure, you can find similar over in the States (think Cinnabon), but there is something special about the Swedish cinnamon bun. They’ve got less sugar and fat than their American counterparts and they’re not lathered in that sickly sweet frosting. Instead, they’re doughy, sticky with cinnamon and cardamom paste, and well, just plain delicious. The sumptuous buns are usually the go-to staple for fika, the Swedish tradition of breaking for coffee, and it is arguably the most popular Swedish pastry.
Apparently, your average Swede will consume 316 cinnamon buns a year, so it’s only fitting that there’s a whole day dedicated to it, right?
National Cinnamon Bun Day was established in 1999 by Sweden’s Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) which wanted to start a tradition in honour of their 40th anniversary. And so, Cinnamon Bun Day was born as a side effect of their anniversary celebrations.
Every year on October 4, cafes and bakeries find the bun flying off their shelves faster than usual, but the buns are available year round and as suggested by the 316 buns per year statistic, a Swede will always be in the mood for a cinnamon bun.
The bun itself has only been around since 1920. Post World War I, wealth levels were up and people could afford luxurious ingredients such as cinnamon, but it was only later, during the 1950s that the bun truly became a beloved Swedish staple. And a staple it has remained.
Many Swedes recall times in their childhood of coming back from school on a cold – and we mean cold – winter day to a cosy warm house filled with that nostalgic smell of cinnamon.
While the day was created to encourage and celebrate home baking, laziness can sometimes get the better of us. Ask any Swede, and they will point you in the direction of their favourite bakery. But you really don’t need to go far for your fix – even convenience stores like 7-Eleven sell them.
That being said, you’d probably enjoy a bun from a traditional bakery or fika spot a little more. Or indeed, bake them yourself, because sometimes, home-baked does trump all.
Whatever you decide, don those elasticated trousers and celebrate the day with as many buns as possible.