We sent 14 uncaptioned photos and one video of Sweden (and other Swedish stuff) to BuzzFeed offices in Mexico, the US, Australia, France, and the UK and asked them to write down their immediate thoughts. This is what they said:
Smörgåskaviar – "Diaper rash balm?"
Samantha (NY): Diaper rash balm? On eggs? On a bagel? No.
Hayes (DC): What. No. What. Why. This can't be real. Do people just squirt it into their mouths like Americans do Cheez Whiz?
David (NY): Why is Ellen DeGeneres on toothpaste? And why is that person putting it on a sandwich?
Caroline (NY): Salmon glue?
Crystal (LA): I mean on the one hand I wanna try this, on the other, I'm prematurely puking.
Chris (LA): 100% not into it.
Adam (LA): This looks like frosting, but I think it's probably the opposite in every way imaginable.
Hilary (UK): I went to Stockholm once and they had this at the breakfast bar. I genuinely thought someone had left a tube of toothpaste beside the bread rolls. "Who does this toothpaste belong to?" I asked. Everyone laughed at me.
Stockholm – "Painfully quaint."
John (NY): Disney Sweden?
Jenna (Australia): This looks like a Lego city. But a GORGEOUS one.
Sydney (NY): I would leave NYC for this.
Hayes (DC): This is almost painfully quaint.
David (NY): I can see the free health insurance from here.
Crystal (LA): Honestly, this looks like a small, New England town to me.
Paul (UK): It looks so quiet. There are car parking spaces. Nobody appears stressed. This is a fictional place.
Hilary (UK): STOCKHOLM. So pretty. I went there once and was so horrified by the prices of beer I had to be hospitalised for shock, but it's so nice to look at.
Hannah (UK): Yeah, pretty sure the photographer had to wait 8 months to get a nice sunny photo. I'M NOT BUYING YOUR PROPAGANDA, SWEDEN.
Surströmming – "It's Swedish, it's fish-related, it's not to be trusted."
Adam (NY): Would eat 100%
Samantha (NY): Can I put this on a Caesar salad?
Anaïs (France): Nope.
Hayes (DC): This makes my mouth sad.
David (NY): Is that cat food?
Caroline (NY): Something grumpy old men anywhere eat.
Crystal (Los Angeles): Are the heads not good enough for brining? What's wrong with fish heads???
Hannah (UK): Ah, this is the Swedish culinary tradition where you just put a tin of fish directly on a plate to cut down on the washing up.
Paul (UK): It's Swedish, it's fish-related, it's not to be trusted.
The Knife – "The kind of thing that happens when you don't have any sunlight for months at a time."
Hayes (DC): So this is the madness that ensues when the sun never sets.
Hannah (UK): This looks like the kind of thing that happens when you don't have any sunlight for months at a time.
David (NY): I guess I would dress weirdly if I lived in an Arctic hellscape.
Adam (LA): I'm guessing that these masks must have some kind of pagan or medieval or Renaissance origin that has been lost to history, and now they are used at fashion shows and/or high class orgies.
Hilary (UK): This looks like a new Nordic Noir detective TV series directed by David Lynch. "Twin Beaks".
John (NY): I'm sure these guys ware taken from Assassin's Creed 2. They are Healers.
Susie (NY): Is this Halloween in Sweden? Or some kind of electronic music duo?
Sydney (NY): FUCK YEAH, THE KNIFE!
Anaïs (France): The Knife! I love The Knife.
Adam (NY): I feel like everyone loves The Knife? They're one of my favorite bands of all time and I thought I was going to cry when I finally saw them on their last tour.
IKEA – "The land of broken dreams."
Adam (NY): Pretty much everything I own is from IKEA.
David (NY): IKEA: breaking up couples since 1943.
Anaïs (France): The land of broken dreams.
Hannah (UK): "IKEA" is the Swedish word for "plunging the human soul into an all-consuming darkness for five hours on a Saturday morning when all you wanted was a fucking bedside table and a new spatula." It's a very versatile language.
Crystal (LA): Not gonna lie. Love it.
Cathy (NY): Yaaasss this is every broke college student's dream.
Paul (UK): My emotions are flat, but easily assembled with an Allen key.
Hilary (UK): I LOVE IKEA AND I HATE IT. I feel like at least 50% of my income goes on pot plants, Daim bars and tealights and it's all your fault Sweden.
Baxter (Mexico): I want this in Mexico.
Jenna (Australia): Simultaneously heaven and hell on earth.
Julia (NY): Their meatballs are the best goddamn things I've ever eaten. When I die, I want IKEA to cater my funeral.
Kanelbullar – "Delicious, a certainty."
Anaïs (France): I would.
Baxter (Mexico): This looks tasty.
John (NY): I don't know what those are but I must eat all of them.
Adam (NY): I want to eat half of this pile and then take a nap in the rest.
Samantha (NY): Can I have all of these now?
Hayes (DC): I don't know what these are but I want them in my face.
Paul (UK): Fairy cakes but made by adults. Cinnamon expected. Delicious a certainty.
David (NY): ALL HAIL CINNAMON BUNS. SWEDEN'S GREATEST EXPORT BEHIND ROBYN.
Sean Banan – "There aren't enough drugs in the world to make this okay."
Hayes (DC): Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
Sydney (NY): There aren't enough drugs in the world to make this okay.
David (NY): I didn't know Ali G moved to Sweden.
Jenna (Australia): Is this a Eurovision reject?
Hilary (UK): It's probably the most perfect Eurovision entry ever. Rainbow coloured camp pop, what's not to love?
Hannah (UK): Are you guys ok? Do you need to talk? We're here for you if you need us, Sweden.
Anaïs (France): I was going to say, this is fucking horrible, but then the chorus started and it's kinda catchy. To be honest this is a pretty good Eurovision song. They're really owning their own terribleness.
Baxter (Mexico): Sweden is dark and full of terrors.
Turning Torso – "The architect was drunk."
John (NY): Swedish prison.
Adam (NY): I see nothing wrong with this picture because I am currently on drugs.
Sydney (NY): Whose idea was this? I mean, I like the building, but it looks so out of place.
Hayes (DC): I don't know why but this twisty building super appeals to me.
David (NY): Dubai?
Caroline (NY): It's so clean and perfect, it looks like a tiny model city like the one for ants in Zoolander.
Susie (NY): Is this a Scandinavian replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
Hilary (UK): I like it, it's like the architect was drunk, and when they came to build it everyone was like 'well he must know what he's doing.'
Anaïs (France): A bunch of edgy-looking, soulless buildings is exactly how I picture Swedish cities.
Sankta Lucia – "Is this from Game of Thrones?"
John (NY): This is a pagan ceremony in which the Swedes invoke their old viking ancestors and the kids will be offered as sacrifice to the old gods.
Hannah (UK): Is this a religious ceremony? Because I don't think setting a nice lady's hair on fire is part of God's plan to be honest. This is a goddamn fire hazard, plain and simple.
David (NY): Seems like someone could have just forked out for a proper Menorah.
Adam (NY): This makes me so fucking nervous.
Paul (UK): Okay, we do have advent wreaths but nothing quite this intense.
Crystal (LA): I wonder if people take bets on when the hot wax will drop down and burn this poor girl's head?
Cathy (NY): I only recognize this St. Lucia scene because of the Kirsten Larson book from American Girl series.
Baxter (Mexico): Is this from Game of Thrones?
Anaïs (France): Is this a cult devoted to the god of candles? If Alexander Skarsgård is in it I'm in.
Northern lights in Norrbotten County – "This looks like a perfect place to make love to Alexander Skarsgård."
Hannah (UK): 🙌
John (NY): Just a normal night in the Swedish woods.
Adam (LA): I presume this is where elves come from?
Adam (NY): Screen saver.
Sydney (NY): Stunning.
Hilary (UK): We have the Northern Lights in Scotland too, but we call them the 'merry dancers' because we're always drunk when we see them.
Baxter (Mexico): You guys are lucky to have this.
Anaïs (France): This looks like a perfect place to make love to Alexander Skarsgård.
Köttbullar – "Sweden's third greatest export."
Anaïs (France): Forget Alexander Skarsgård. I wanna make love to this plate.
Adam (NY): YES
Hayes (DC): This is the Swedish version of McDonald's, right?
Hannah (UK): Honestly those meatballs are making endless months of crushing darkness look totally worth it right now.
David (NY): SWEDEN'S THIRD GREATEST EXPORT.
Crystal (LA): This looks like a majorly upgraded version of what they serve in IKEA's cafeteria area.
Paul (UK): I hope those are lingonberries. My IKEA culinary education can't go to waste.
Hilary (UK): It would look delicious if the potatoes weren't shaped like a dog poop. Also not too sure about cucumber with potato, or lingonberries with cucumber. Basically, lose the cucumber, then we can talk.
Baxter (Mexico): I'm hungry now.
Stefan Löfven – "Who?"
John (NY): A very important news anchor.
Adam (NY): I don't know.
Cathy (NY): I have no idea who this dude is.
Sydney (NY): Who?
Crystal (LA): Sorry.
Hayes (DC): I don't know who this is. Is he the king of Sweden? Does he long for their time as a superpower?
David (NY): Did he write the Millennium trilogy?
Adam (LA): He looks like a second-rate accountant who likes to mansplain everything.
Hilary (UK): Is he the king?
Hannah (UK): Somewhere on a remote island there is a clone factory that churns out politicians that all look exactly like this guy. The clones are then packaged in navy blue suits and distributed to small European nations, where they enact center-right policies and bid for international sporting events to take place in their environmentally-conscious cities.
Baxter (Mexico): A politician. Same look in EVERY country.
Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden – "Royalty? Do you guys have that?"
John (NY): Miss Sweden 1992 about to say hi to Miss Sweden 2015.
Julia (NY): I don't know :((( Apparently Sweden doesn't have a duchess. Who knew? Not me.
Hayes (DC): She's either the Queen of Sweden or they take prom waaaaaay more seriously than America.
Samantha (NY): Vaguely intimidating. Would not want to mess with her.
Sydney (NY): Princess Victoria > Kate Middleton. The young swedish royals don't get the attention they deserve. They're really good looking.
David (NY): She's the Crown Princess! I know she married her personal trainer too. Which makes Kate Middleton look like a slob.
Adam (LA): Pretty sure she hunts big game with her bare hands on the weekends.
Paul (UK): Royalty? Do you guys have that? I'm guessing you do. Otherwise she's got some other countries crown and should give it back.
Street of Ystad – "Is this downtown Stockholm?"
Julia (NY): I accidentally stepped in a puddle of classic NYC street urine today. Don't show this to me.
John (NY): I'm sure the Hobbits are going to come out any minute now.
Adam (NY): A festive cookie house made to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Hayes (DC): I just feel like a bunch of people are going to burst out and start singing any second now like in the opening of "Beauty and the Beast."
David (NY): Is this downtown Stockholm?
Caroline (NY): it looks like a lot of nice grandmas would live there.
Chris (LA): It feels like Greece or a scene from a ride where a railroad rides through the middle.
Hannah (UK): It's actually the law in Sweden that if you come upon a colourful windy road like this one, you are required to skip rather than walk, otherwise you are arrested and sent to a prison that is actually an island with picturesque streets just like this one, where you can reflect on your crimes, transform your life, and re-enter society as a friendly and productive citizen.
Samantha (NY): CAN I PLEASE LIVE HERE?
Dalarna – "Stop rubbing it in, Sweden!"
Anaïs (France): I want to go there and swim naked with Alexander Skarsgård.
John (NY): Yeah I could live there.
Adam (NY): Gorgeous!
Jenna (Australia): If the dictionary was just pictures, this would be the entry for tranquil.
Hayes (DC): This is okay, if you like natural beauty and splendor. I guess.
Susie (NY): Stop rubbing it in, Sweden!
Paul (UK): This needs more jetski. It's too serene.
Julia (NY): What a hideous representation of autumn! Unimpressed.
Hilary (UK): A top quality lake there, well done again.
Hannah (UK): JUST MORE OF THAT SUNSHINEY SWEDISH PROPAGANDA. IT'S LIES.