oatmeal balls

The Origins of Oatmeal Balls

In Candy by Skjalden

Oatmeal balls, a favorite snack in Denmark and Sweden, are more than just a tasty treat; they’re a clever invention born from necessity. During the hardships of World War II, specifically in 1943, Danish families faced shortages of many basic ingredients due to German occupation. These shortages led to the creation of oatmeal balls or Havregrynskugler, as they are known in Denmark. The simplicity of the recipe and the minimal ingredients required made oatmeal balls an instant hit, especially among children.

In Sweden, these treats are known as Chokladbollar, which translates to chocolate balls. They are a staple in Swedish coffee breaks and family gatherings, loved by people of all ages. While the Danish and Swedish versions share many similarities, the Swedish recipe often includes a dash of coffee, giving it a unique twist that differentiates it from its Danish counterpart.

Why Oatmeal Balls Are a Year-Round Treat

The reason oatmeal balls have remained popular is simple: they are incredibly easy to make and delicious. The basic ingredients list includes oats, sugar, butter, and cocoa, which are mixed together, shaped into balls, and then rolled in coconut flakes. This process is so straightforward that even children can participate, making it a fun family activity.

Oatmeal balls are not just for special occasions or certain times of the year in Denmark; they are enjoyed all year round. Their versatility is another reason for their popularity. You can tweak the recipe to suit your tastes or dietary needs, such as reducing sugar or adding nuts and dried fruits for extra flavor and texture.

The legacy of Havregrynskugler goes beyond their taste. They are a reminder of the resilience and creativity of those who first made them under constrained conditions. Today, they continue to be a symbol of simplicity and joy in both Danish and Swedish cultures. Whether you’re making them as a quick snack or for a family gathering, oatmeal balls are sure to bring a sense of nostalgia and delight to any kitchen.

Photo credit: Douglas Perkins