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Six useful products I discovered in Denmark

Denmark is well known for its tradition for high quality design, but which products make a difference to everyday life?

Six useful products I discovered in Denmark
A simple sticker can stop your letter box from overflowing. File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Inbuilt bike locks 

There’s no need to carry around a heavy and impractical chain to lock up your bicycle in Denmark, as these all come fitted (or you can cheaply add) an inbuilt lock on the frame of the bike.

The lock is the form of a circular bar which is released by a key and goes between the spokes of the back wheel, meaning it can’t be turned when the lock is in the fixed position.

This way, bikes can be locked while still standing freely – which is just as well, since there are not enough railings and bike stands in the country to accommodate the many, many bicycles.

Of course, a locked bike can, in theory, be picked up and carried away even if the wheel doesn’t turn and unfortunately, this does happen sometimes. But not enough to undermine the public trust in bicycle wheel locks.

Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rain trousers

Rain trousers/pants (regnbukser) can be bought on their own or with a matching jacket as part of a regnsæt (“rain set”).

These waterproof pants are a novelty to those of us who don’t come from bicycle cultures, but after your first rainy day cycling commute leaves you at the office with drenched trousers, you’ll understand the appeal.

They are designed to fit over your regular trousers and can be stretched over the top of your shoes and held underneath them with a piece of elastic attached to the bottom hem.

While primarily designed for cycling, they also come in handy for walking around during Denmark’s regular spells of cold, damp weather.

Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

READ ALSO: Essential rain gear for a wet Danish winter (and spring, summer, autumn)

The flatbed toaster

There’s something indefinably satisfying about putting two slices of bread in a toaster and waiting for the ‘ping’ as they pop up, warm and ready for spreading.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that toasters are a bit impractical when it comes to thick slices and rolls.

Of course, you can also warm bread in the oven, but it’s more hassle and not for quite the same result.

Enter the flatbed toaster. This device is much more popular in Denmark than the pop-up version and enables easy, simultaneous warming of several slices of bread of various shapes and sizes – including of course, the national favourite, rye bread.

Pro tip: turn the dial less for toasting the second side of the bread, because the element will already be warm. This way you avoid burning the second side.

Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The cheese slicer

Cheese products popular in Denmark include havarti and the Cheasy range from dairy Arla.

These are both soft cheeses and should be cut with an ostehøvl (cheese slicer), a quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cutting Danish soft cheese with a knife will turn the block into a crumbling mess, so in this setting you can’t really avoid using the specialised slicers. And while their usefulness is diminished for something like cheddar, there are plenty of softer cheeses in other countries that would surely benefit from being set about with an ostehøvl.

One thing to be aware of: injudicious use of the slicer can cause a “ski slope” cheese block, creating uneven slices and leaving one side of the block thicker than the other. Slice evenly.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Foam washing cloths for babies

If you’re a parent and have found yourself struggling with a pile of dirty wet wipes or cotton pads after changing your baby, you may have found yourself wondering if there’s another way.

In Denmark, there is: the engangsvaskeklude (disposable washing cloth) comes in tightly-stuffed packets of 50-100 small, square foam cloths, around 20 square centimetres in size.

The cloths are made from thin slices of polyether foam, a type often used in sofa cushions. Manufacturers say it is better for the environment than other types, and the advantage against wet wipes is they are perfume-free.

They just need to be made damp with a splash of lukewarm water, then you’re ready to wipe – they tend to have a good success rate for picking up baby poo.

A sticker saying ‘no thanks’ to junk mail

We’re talking about physical junk mail here, not the type that goes into your email spam box although if there was a sticker for this, I’d be at the front of the queue.

The reklamer, nej tak (“advertisements, no thank you”) sticker can be ordered from FK Distribution, the company which operates Denmark’s tilbudsaviser (“special offer newspaper”) deliveries. These result in piles of paper leaflets, detailing offers at supermarkets, being pushed through letter boxes every day.

These leaflets are useful for bargain hunters, but many people take them out of their overfilled letter box and dump them straight into recycling containers. If you have a nej tak sticker on your letter box, you won’t receive any of the brochures in the first place.

You can also choose a sticker which says “no thanks” to adverts but excludes the offer leaflets, so you can cut down on the junk mail while still keeping abreast of good deals.

Have I missed any good ones? Let me know.

Member comments

  1. The sticker is not enough you need to register at their website to stop receiving the “reklamer”. It is usually teens that deliver so if you are on their list you will get them. Also you are not required to a sticker on, but it will help the person delivering a lot.

  2. Allow me to add the ‘Swansneck’ (svanehals) fitting used to suspend a pendant lamp amuwhere you want it. It is completely unknown in the UK, and mine have been much admired. Someone somewhere could make a killing selling these in the UK!

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For members


IN NUMBERS: How close is Denmark to becoming cash free?

Although app payments are commonplace in Denmark and almost all businesses accept debit cards, one in five people in the country still say they would find it difficult to be without cash.

IN NUMBERS: How close is Denmark to becoming cash free?

Some 20 percent of the Danish public say they would find it difficult to may everyday payments if cash was no longer in use, national agency Statistics Denmark found in a recent survey.

It should be noted that there are no immediate political plans to make Denmark cashless. But given the country’s position as one of the most digitalised societies in the EU, it is notable that such a high number still uses cash on such a regular basis.

Some 20 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 89 said they agreed with the statement “I would find it difficult to make payments if cash was abolished as a payment method”.

The figure comes from the agency’s annual publication on IT habits in the general Danish population.

“One in five say they would find it hard to get by without cash, our study shows. It might not be surprising that this is particularly among elderly people,” Statistics Denmark senior consultant Agnes Tassy said.

“Many people in the older age group also belong to the category we have chosen to call ‘digitally challenged’. In that group, 40 percent would find it hard to be without cash,” she said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Is it better for tourists to use cash or card in Denmark?

The agency defines “digitally challenged” as people who say they cannot navigate the internet or install an app.

Among the remainder of the population, most people say they could manage without cash although 17 percent still said they would find it to be a problem.

As part of the study, the data agency also asked members of the public which payment methods they had used at least once during the last three months.

Here, 53 percent said they had used all three primary types: cash, payment app and payment card.

30 percent said they used the latter two types but not cash, while only 7 percent said they did not use a mobile app but did use cash and card. A similarly low number, 7 percent, said they only used a card and neither an app nor cash. Just 2 percent only use cash.

In the study, six out of ten said they had used cash at some point around the beginning of 2022, the period the questions in the survey relate to.

But even though one in five say they’d find it hard not to use cash at all, only 2 percent – equivalent to 90,000 people – use cash as their sole method of payment.

A very high proportion – 97 percent – said they used payment cards at the beginning of 2022. Around 84 percent used a mobile app to pay for an item or service.

READ ALSO: Dankort: What is Denmark’s payment card and how is it different from other card types?

Graphic: Statistics Denmark

Breaking those numbers down by age, as in the graphic above, the percent of card users remains high across age groups (grey line), as does the middling amount of people who use cash (blue line).

Mobile apps (green line) have a very high usage in younger age groups, before a drop of for people in their fifties and sixties and a nosedive in usage for the over-80s.

“Across all age groups, the little plastic card is payment form most people rely on. Between 73 percent and 85 percent used a card the most often in 2022. For the entire population, the case is that 8 out of 10 most often pay by card, while 14 percent most often use an app,” Tassy said.

The use of cash rises with age, with one in five over 80 using it most often but only 3 percent of people aged between 15 and 34.