Semlas (Image via Unsplash.com- Dani)

The King Who Accidentally Killed Himself By Eating Too Much Dessert

King Adolf Frederick of Sweden overindulged in his favorite sweet treats in 1771 and ended up paying the ultimate price

Andrew Martin
3 min readNov 23, 2022

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When it comes to dessert it can be very easy to overindulge. Sweet treats taste so good and can prove to be irresistible even when we are full. Usually, an upset stomach is the worst that comes from powering through and downing dessert even when you know you shouldn’t. However, in the case of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden, he met his untimely end after not being able to keep himself from eating 14 helpings of his favorite dessert during a holiday.

Born in 1710, Adolf Frederick was the King of Sweden from 1751 until his untimely passing in 1771. While his country’s finances floundered during his reign, his country enjoyed a period of extended peace. He was also considered somewhat of a progressive, due to some measures enacted during his tenure, including a Freedom of Press Act of 1766, which ended censorship and penalties for libel (except in cases involving the King or the Church of Sweden). However, his overall legacy was that of a rather flaccid leader, who was generally seen as a pleasant person, but not much of a talented ruler.

The uncle of Catherine the Great, Adolf was also known for his voracious appetite. Being the most powerful person in the country meant he had access to the best foods in whatever quantity he desired. On February 12, 1771, Adolf, like the rest of his subjects, was observing Shrove Tuesday, which in part involved feasting on sumptuous foods. This had become a tradition leading up to the observation of Lent, which began the following day and was when many Catholics often gave up many times of foods and other indulgences during the period.

During this particular Shrove Tuesday, Adolf really tucked in. He was reported to have downed a large meal, which included caviar, lobster, kippers, sauerkraut, a variety of meats and turnips — all washed down with champagne. In other words, it was a real gut bomb. This was to all be topped off with his favorite dessert — semlas, sweet buns filled with cream, not entirely unlike large cream puffs.

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.