Kalles Kaviar (Swedish), Kallen Mätitahna (Finnish) or Kalle’s Caviar (English) has been an essential part of Scandinavian breakfast for 50 years. Today, many IKEA stores around the world also sell Kalle's Caviar. The tube features a drawing of the fair-haired boy Carl about to munch down on a wafer of hardtack smeared with butter and a pink squiggle of caviar paste. We were curious to know how many squiggles of caviar paste are in the standard 190g tube of Kalle’s Caviar.

Being avid fans of Cockeyed.com, we thought this was a good candidate for a How Much is Inside? project!

Dry Work

First we gathered information from the Abba.se web site. Note: Abba has been around much longer than the pop band ABBA, in fact the band had to ask permission to use the name. According to the Kalles history page on the Abba web site, Kalle’s Caviar was introduced in 1954, and the boy on the tube is Carl "Calle" Ameln, the son of the managing director at the time. They also mentioned that a 190g tube contains 5 meters of caviar! Hmmm… we decided to do a mathematical exercise to see if this could be right.

When the tube is new, the business end is sealed. To access the salty treat inside, you need to remove the cap, turn it around and use the miniature citrus juicer structure to pierce the foil.

A bit like that docking maneuver Kevin Bacon did in the movie Apollo 13.

The resulting hole is asterisk shaped,

and delivers a fluted squiggle.

The diameter of a caviar squiggle varies between 8 and 10 mm. It is related to the speed you draw the tube across the hardtack. Using geometry, we calculated that a cylinder of 8 mm diameter caviar of assumed density 1g/cc, is only 3.78 meters long! Over a meter short! Picking up our slide rules, we back calculated the diameter of a squiggle that would give a 5-meter per tube yield. This turns out to be 6.95 mm, call it 7mm. You would have to really whip that tube across your breakfast hardtack to get such a thin line.

The juicer structure is tapered, so if you do not fully pierce the tube, you get a smaller hole, so you could make thinner squiggles. But the cap, being a Swedish design, is the result of countless years of research. It is designed to pierce the tube efficiently safely, and to a standard area, even if the gourmand is suffering from a proper Scandinavian hangover. (Kalle’s Caviar is well known as an effective hangover cure.)

We then checked out the familiar picture of little Calle on the tube.

The squiggle on his hardtack looked in the range of 8 to 10 mm. We needed a way to verify this, so we scanned a spent tube, which are always flattened paper thin to extract the last smidgen of caviar.

The image was scanned at 600 dpi.

We also needed a full size image of hardtack.

We decided to use Koulunäkki for our study.

Koulunäkki is one of the most popular brands in Finland, and looks to be about the same size as the one in Calle’s hand.

To keep crumbs out of the scanner works, we placed the hardtack in a minigrip (Finnish zip-lock baggie) and scanned it at 300 dpi.

As you can see, the image detail is excellent.

We then went to work on the images.

First the image of Calle’s breakfast was isolated, rotated and de-skewed. Then it was overlaid on the hardtack image and resized to fit. Then the caviar squiggle was de-selected and Calle’s buttered hardtack was deleted from the layer. The result looked like a million dollar Roy Lichtenstein pop art. Hmm…… Ebay ideas…

A full size printout of the reconstructed breakfast was produced

(Full size on a 1024 x 768 pixel 15" monitor)

The squiggle width was measured in 21 places, and the average was calculated to be 10.43 mm. Minimum width 5mm (fast) and maximum width 15mm (slow).

The length of the squiggle needed to be measured so we could calculate Calle squiggles per tube. After much discussion about measuring the curve length of sine and fifth degree functions, we settled on direct measurement using a length of solder. Solder is easy to bend, and it does not spring back when you let it go.

Solder on the full-size printout.

The solder was then pulled straight and measured.

It was 22.5 cm long.

Armed with this information, we determined that a 190g tube of caviar would make 9.8 Calle squiggles10.43 mm in diameter, enough to cover almost 10 hardtack wafers. This was based on the assumption that caviar has a density of 1.0 g/cc. Not having a better-equipped lab at our disposal, we decided to see how many standard Calle squiggles on individual hardtack wafers could be made from a 190g tube of caviar.

Wet Work

We needed a way to make standard Calle squiggles on the hardtack. We discussed spray paint/oil, templates and stencils.

The final method was a half stencil.

The bottom edge of the Calle squiggle was traced onto a disposable plastic cookie box cover when the hardtack image is pushed snug in the corner.

The plastic cover was then cut along the tracing.

That way, a hardtack wafer can be forced into the corner, and the caviar can be applied along the stencil edge.

It worked great!

A pack of hardtack was laid out in preparation for squiggling.

Soon we had passed the theoretical limit of 10 squiggles with plenty to spare.

Milking the tube for the last drops.

A total of 16.25 squiggles were produced from a 190g tube! That’s 3.66 meters, very close to the 3.78 meters calculated with a diameter of 8mm. From this we calculated the diameter to be 8,13mm.

Actual measurement (without touching caviar) was 8.24.


and Alex

enjoying the rewards of research.

So, for a 190g tube of caviar, expect 16 servings, or enough to cover one 18 slice pack of hardtack if you are not so lavish.

Kalles Kaviar also comes in 100g (8.5 servings) and 300g (25.6 servings) tubes. ¨