Swedish Chef

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The Swedish Chef, making chocolate "moose"

The Swedish Chef is a Muppet who appeared in the long-running The Muppet Show and was operated by Jim Henson and Frank Oz simultaneously.



A parody of televised cooking shows, the Swedish Chef wears a toque blanche and has bushy eyebrows that completely obscure his eyes. He was one of the few Muppets to employ an actual puppeteer's hands, originally Oz's, in the designs—that is, they were visible to the audience through his sleeves and facilitated handling food and utensils.

Nearly all Swedish Chef sketches begin with him in a kitchen, waving some utensils while singing his signature song in a trademark semi-comprehensible gibberish which parodies the characteristic vowel sounds of Swedish. The last line of the song is always "Børk! Børk! Børk!", and is punctuated by him throwing the utensils over his shoulder to crash into the crockery behind.

After this introduction, the Chef continues speaking gibberish while preparing a particular recipe. His commentary is spiced with the occasional English word to clue the viewer in to what he is attempting. These clues are necessary as he frequently uses unorthodox culinary equipment (firearms, tennis racquets, etc.) to prepare his dishes. The sketch typically degenerates into a slapstick finale where the ingredients or equipment get the better of him.

In one sketch, a misaimed explosive charge slightly damaged the face of the puppet. The Chef's face remained scarred through the rest of the season.

The Chef's gibberish gained a life of its own with the creation of a Unix lex filter capable of converting standard English to "chefspeak" in 1992. The filter quickly became a staple of hacker culture and eventually spread to the mainstream with "Swedish Chef" translators on several websites such as Google. In 2003 Opera Software published a special "Bork" version of its internet browser which turned the MSN website into "Swedish."

It is sometimes said that The Swedish Chef character is based on real life Swedish chef Lars "Kuprik" Bäckman. He claims that his rather unsuccessful appearance on Good Morning America caught the attention of Jim Henson, who later bought the rights to the recording and created Lars Bäckman's Muppet alter ego. Bäckman's Dalecarlian accent would explain the chef's strange pronunciation. This story is however denied (http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/070301.shtml) by Jerry Juhl.


The first Swedish Chef merchandise item was a ceramic coffee mug produced by Kilncraft in the UK in 1978. It was part of a series of 12 featuring various Muppet Show characters, and featured coloured line drawings on either a white or beige ceramic cup.

In 1980, Jones New York offered a small collection of blue and yellow Swedish Chef kitchen linens including an apron, pot holders, and toaster cover. Miss Piggy linens in pink were also available.

From 1988 to 1990, the Swedish Chef had his own short-lived breakfast cereal for sale in grocery stores, called "Croonchy Stars." Croonchy Stars brought with it a small variety of Swedish Chef items, most notably a stuffed Chef doll complete with non-removable wooden rolling pin and spoon. There was also a coffee mug bearing a picture of the Chef and the logos of Post Cereal and Croonchy Stars.

In 2000, German company Igel released a large (35cm) plush Swedish Chef as part of the second wave of its stuffed Muppets line. In addition, there was a life-sized version available measuring nearly five feet tall. Though expensive, the huge Chef proved popular enough with collectors that the line was expanded the following year with five-foot plush versions of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Animal, Statler, and Waldorf.

Also in 2000, UK food chain Little Chef released a small toy car called Swedish Chef's Sporty Sponge (the Chef riding a cake on wheels) as part of line of promotional Muppet Corgi cars.

2002 was celebrated as the 25th anniversary of The Muppet Show, which brought a flurry of new Muppet toys and collectables. Included in this was a line of action figures from Palisades Toys, which would run through 2005 and grow to include many dozens of figures. Palisades' Swedish Chef items include:

  • A large and very detailed Swedish Kitchen playset, with a very realistic miniature kitchen and over 40 accessories including many cooking tools and odd items such as a saw and tennis racket.
  • The first Swedish Chef action figure, included with the Swedish Kitchen playset, has a blue striped shirt and plaid pants.
  • "Culinary Catastrophe" Chef, an exclusive figure sold at the 2003 San Diego comic Convention, includes the lobster banditos from the show and their guns. The body of the Chef has a different paint job so it appears to be splattered with food, and his clothing colours are different.
  • Classic Swedish Chef has plainer clothing colours than the earlier Kitchen version and comes with several accessories including his gun and a basketball hoop.
  • Santa Swedish Chef, an eBay exclusive item for the 2004 holiday season, is dressed as Santa Claus and includes a holiday wreath and lights.
  • A small non-articulated PVC figure featuring Chef holding a spoon and a live chicken in a pot.

In 2003, Sideshow Collectables offered a Swedish Chef bust statue as part of the third wave of its line of Muppet busts.

With the Muppets characters being owned by Disney as of late 2004, there is reason to believe that there will be a healthy amount of merchandise for the Chef and other Muppets in the foreseeable future. Other modern Swedish Chef items include yet another plush doll (this time a smaller 18" one), a Disney metal lapel pin, and a small tin of mints.


The United States Postal Service has announced plans to release a souvenir sheet featuring Jim Henson and ten Muppets including the Swedish Chef in 2005.[1] (http://www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/2004/sr04_076.htm)

Typical episodes

  • Chocolate Mousse
The Chef announces he will be making chocolate mousse, for which he first prepares some liquid chocolate ("Yom-yom-yooom, ze chocolad!"), then proceeds to acquire the other ingredient: a moose.
  • Salad ala Boom-Boom
While making a salad, the Chef demonstrates his unique technique for shredding: the "Boom-Boom", an ancient handgun, which he uses for chopping the vegetables after throwing them into the air. The whole process is observed by a curious Statler and Waldorf, who comment on the rather unorthodox cooking style saying "If I did [eat his food], I'd be dead."
  • Lobster-Bandidos
The Chef's attempt to cook a lobster is ambushed by a gang of other, pistol wielding, lobsters wearing sombreros, and muttering in a quasi-Mexican dialect, who manage to free the victim from the pot, and intimidate the chef by shooting the cleaver out of his hand.
  • Donuts
Once again the Boom-Boom is in action, this time used to create donuts from muffins. ("Zee de moofin? Ond ik will mit de boome shooten!")

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