Pearl of the month
Product label of Fazer’s Pihlajanmarja confections
The package label Olga Ehrström designed for Fazer’s rowanberry confections
“Sour said the fox about rowanberries”. This saying was probably in Olga Ehrström’s mind when she designed the product label for rowanberry flavoured marmalade confections produced by Fazer. In the Scandinavian version of the well-known fable, the fox tried to reach the tempting red berries, but since it was unable to do so, remarked disappointed: ”They aren’t even ripe yet”.
Olga “Olli” Ehrström (1876-1938) was a talented artist who, according to her contemporary colleagues, would have become one of the leading female artist had she not sacrificed her career for her husband. In the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, she was referred to as one of the most prominent female artists who participated in the Art Society’s spring exhibition in 1914. Olga Gummerus studied in the Finnish Art Society’s drawing class 1892–98 and after that at the Academie Colarossi in Paris. There she also met her future husband Eric O. W. Ehrström.
A part of production of the artist couple was bequeathed to Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation in the 1930s. The bequest included about 470 artworks or sketches attributed to Olga Ehrström.
Olga Ehrström was in her element as a portrait painter. Her oeuvre comprised also interiors, glass paintings and applied graphic art. Fine Arts Foundation’s collection consists of more than ten motifs designed for Fazer. According to the information provided by Oy Karl Fazer Ab’s archive, they were introduced between 1908-1923.
Karl Fazer had trained in St. Petersburg and managed to work in Berlin and Paris before he returned as a 25-year old pastry chef to his hometown Helsinki. He started to produce chocolate bars and confections in 1894, the industrial manufacture of confections started three years later. The confections were packed in magnificent packages that were decorated by renowned Finnish artists, including even Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
The label of the rowanberry marmalade designed by Olga Ehrström is assumed to date back to years 1908–1918. The image is simplified and every inessential feature has been left out. Rowanberry has been depicted as a stem and a couple of twigs bending down under the weight of the snow and the berries. The snow has been distinguished from the white background with the help of a silhouette-like blue sky and depressions made by fox’s paws.
The manufacture of the Pihlajanmarja rowanberry marmalade was begun in 1895 according to a recipe that Karl Fazer had brought with him from Russia. The original confections contained rowanberry. The recipe has, however, been changed since then and the name has been abbreviated to Pihlaja (rowan). For each Christmas season the company produces about 25 Mio pieces of Pihlaja confections. They have been the favourites of the Finns for decades, and are by no means sour.