Gregory Rodriguez: Swedish Mexican Food, Straight From the U.S. Sweden indulges in American culture by going on a taco binge. September 24, 2006
You see, here — as in other parts of Europe — Mexican food was not brought over by Mexicans at all. Rather, it was introduced by American TV shows and movies. That explains why there's a "Gringo Special" on the menu at the Taco Bar, a Swedish fast-food chain, and why nearly all the Mexican products in the grocery stores — "Taco Sauce," "Taco Spice Mix" and "Guacamole Dip" — are labeled in English.
But in the grocery section in the Ahlens City department store in central Stockholm, you'll find Old El Paso competing with Swedish companies — Santa Maria and the cheaper store brand El Dorado — that also make their Mexican food the processed American way.
As you go down the escalator to the basement, you can't help but see the big "Tacos" sign hanging from the ceiling. The Mexican aisle is by far the largest part of the ethnic food section. Indeed, according to a recent market research study, Sweden is now the highest per capita consumer of Mexican food in Europe. That's why in 2001, the Nordfalks spice company changed its name to Santa Maria, after its most successful brand.