When Slate’s Jeremy Stahl started hunting for opinions as to what real Swedes think of our beloved Swedish Chef, he quickly discovered two things: 1) He wasn’t the first to ask; and, 2) They’re more than willing to pawn him off on Norway.
The Swedish chef often pops into American minds when they meet a representative of the northern European country, though occasionally we also grill them on IKEA, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or ABBA for a change of pace. The lilting babble of the character doesn’t match the Swedish language, though.
“What has always struck me is that the Chef is probably based on a Norwegian sing-songish accent rather than a Swedish one,” Maaret Koskinen, a film studies professor at Stockholm University, wrote in an email when I asked her about the Swedish Chef’s cultural influence in Sweden.
Although one Swedish chef, Lars “Kuprik” Bäckman, has claimed he was Jim Henson’s inspiration for the character, head Muppets writer Jerry Juhl disagrees claiming the character was born of Henson’s intensive sessions with Swedish Berlitz tapes and plenty of hilarious brainstorming sessions.
So, next time you meet a Swede, cut them some slack and ask about ABBA. At least we know they’re Swedish.
Full story at Slate.
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