Salmiakki is salty licorice. If you’ve had trail mix, peanut-butter pretzels, potato chip cookies, or other salty-and-sweet food, you might think “Wow, that sounds good!” But, no, of course, it’s not.

The problem is that salmiak doesn’t use table salt (sodium chloride) but instead uses ammonium chloride. Heavily salted salmiak, like the “double-salt” pastilles here, leaves the fragrant scent of ammonia drifting up through your nose as soon as it begins to dissolve. It’s terrifying on a chemical level. Your brain’s smell-processing center probably thinks your blood is toxifying, or you’re caught in a chemical cloud, or a cat pissed all over your face. You want to run and you don’t know where. You sweat and the sweat smells like ammonia.

As your motor-control neurons compel your hand to shove more of these weird tablets into your face, the smell intensifies, your tongue numbs, and you don’t know why you keep eating them. Must be that salty-and-sweet thing.

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