Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
Amalia Eriksson (1824-1923) was a Swedish entrepreneur who overcame great personal tragedies, including the death of her entire immediate family due to cholera when she was ten, to invent a treat that continues to be one of the most popular candies today: the peppermint stick. At the age of thirty-one, she moved to Gränna from her hometown to work as a maid. Two years later, she married and had twins; sadly, one was stillborn, and her husband died a week later. Widowed, poor, and now a single parent, Amalia applied for a permit to open a bakery and candy shop in her town. She soon became the first female entrepreneur to successfully open a business in Sweden. The story goes that in 1859, when her daughter Ida was sick with a cold, Amalia bought a bottle of peppermint oil and made her own homemade cough drops. This developed into her secret recipe for a red and white swirled candy she would call polkagris. The polka was a popular dance at the time, and the swirls in the candy reminded Amalia of the dance’s motion; gris is the Swedish word for “pig,” which was then slang for candy. She had great success with her new innovation, and her shop became so popular that it was visited by royalty. Eriksson died a wealthy woman at the age of ninety-nine, and the secret to her polkagris was finally passed on to other candy makers, who continue to manufacture the peppermint stick today.