America's favorite things hail from Sweden. Abba, Ikea, Greta Garbo, and H&M are just some of our obsessions from the famed country

By Farrin Jacobs
Updated May 28, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Hives are merely the latest in a long line of Swedish bands that have journeyed to America to make their fortune. Notable among them: ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette, the Cardigans, Yngwie Malmsteen, the Herreys (who can forget their 1984 hit, ”Diggi Loo Diggi Ley”?)…. And as their music fills our airwaves, our homes and closets are being invaded by a pair of Swedish retail juggernauts: IKEA, with its efficient yet disposable furniture, and H&M, with its stylish yet disposable clothing. Draw your own conclusions about what this says about Swedish music…. The Nobel prizes were created by a Swedish inventor and industrialist, Alfred Nobel, who also invented dynamite. Ironic, no?… Bjorn Borg, one of Sweden’s greatest sportsmen, took Wimbledon five years in a row (1976 — 1980)…. Ingmar Bergman, Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo — all Swedish!… Smorgasbord might just mean buffet to you, but in Swedish it translates roughly to ”bread and butter table.” Fortunately, a ”smorgasbord” usually includes more than that — the infamous Swedish meatball, for example, which is generally served with lingonberries (berries from, we assume, a lingon?), which are not to be confused with the Swedish a cappella group the Lingonberries…. Swedes love their vowels; they have the same alphabet we do, with three additional letters: a, ä, and ö. Hö w cool is that?