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A Swedish Museum Called Musk Sticks 'Disgusting' Yet They Eat Rotten Fish

The Disgusting Food Museum also includes two other well-known Aussie foods: Vegemite and witchetty grubs.

Musk sticks. Are you a lover or a loather? Apparently the Swedes can't stand them, and they added them to their Museum of Disgusting Food back in November.

What an insult.

And a rich one coming from a country that eats really stinky fish. And we're talking REALLY stinky.

You see there is nothing Swedes like more than to crack open tins of fermented Baltic herring called surströmming (sour herring) -- a stinky culinary tradition that dates back several centuries and is often likened to the smell of eggs rotting in open sewage drains.

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This, or a musk stick. You choose. Image: GettyAnd they have the audacity to say that musk sticks are "disgusting."

Of course, the Twitterverse also had its collective nose out of joint about the insult.

But even here, people were split, as it happens, about how "disgusting" they really are. So much so that it has now trended -- with some people very fired up about the confection.

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And it got us thinking -- what exactly are musk sticks?

Turns out it's quite the story.

The musk class of aromas (which is also prominent in perfumery) includes “glandular secretions from animals such as the musk deer, numerous plants emitting similar fragrances, and artificial substances with similar odours. Musk was a name originally given to a substance with a penetrating odour obtained from a gland of the male musk deer.” says Wikipedia.

Not actual deer. Image: Getty

Apparently, musk lozenges were all the rage in the Ottoman Empire circa 1600 -- and they made their way to British lolly shops too, until around 1800 or so. But we in Australia didn't ever get tired of their sugary goodness -- oh no -- we embraced them, and they became de rigueur by the time World War I ended, according to the ABC. And ever since, the nation (and New Zealand too as it happens) has been savouring their perfumed goodness.

Of course, these days it's all synthetic --  the perfume industry eventually endangered musk deer, leading some countries to ban its use. Perfumers now use musk essence, a synthetic compound.

And, you will be glad to hear, so do musk stick makers.

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But Twitter war or not, they're far from unpopular in Australia -- regardless of what those Swedes thinks. According to the story on the ABC, "Woolworths alone sells roughly 24 million musk sticks per year. Coles discovered our enduring attachment to musk sticks the hard way when it stopped selling them in 2015 and, amid complaints from musk stick fans around the country, had to hurriedly resurrect them."

24 million of them disgusting? Ha, I don't think so...

What do you think? Let us know.

Feature image: Getty