Julmust is a soft drink that is typically consumed in Sweden during the Christmas season. The name is derived from Jul, the Swedish word for “Christmas,” and must, a common winemaking term for freshly crushed fruit juice that has not yet fermented.
Julmust, which tastes like a blend of cola and root beer, was created by Swedish chemist Harry Roberts in the early 20th century as a nonalcoholic alternative to beer. To this day, the company Roberts and his father founded in 1910, Roberts AB, is still the sole producer of Julmust extract syrup, the base ingredient that is purchased by all companies that make their own brands of Julmust. Its exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret.
The soda is almost impossible to find in stores outside the holiday season, but during this brief window, Julmust becomes incredibly popular. According to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, the beverage comprised about 50 percent of total soft drink sales during the holiday season in 1999. Every holiday season, it continues to outsell all other soft drinks, including Coca-Cola. In fact, the Swedish seasonal soda cuts into other beverage companies’ sales so much that Coca-Cola made an unsuccessful attempt at producing their own version of Julmust in the early 2000s.