Will Shoemaker                                Times Editor
Will Shoemaker Times Editor


A twist on the age-old saying “you are what you eat” may offer insight on how one Scandinavian country is so dang happy.

Get this: When the lunch bell rings each day in Norway, the country’s inhabitants, from school children to office workers, dig into paper sacks and pales for basically the same meager meal — a sandwich called “matpakke” made of dry wholemeal bread and layers of more or less flavorless meat, fish or cheese.

It’s beige. It’s bland. It’s humble.

But it’s a national institution born in the 1930s amid widespread poverty and is today a source of cultural pride. A recent BBC article attempts to even draw correlation between the modesty of the meal — including the fact that Norwegians prepare the sandwich themselves each morning before leaving the house — and the country’s high rate of productivity. Norway is not only rich today (due in large part to its oil reserves), but boasts one of the world’s highest rates of GDP per capita.



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