A story relayed to me by Michael Widenius
In the 1980s, things were very expensive in Finland, but very cheap in Sweden. There were cruise ships that traveled between the two countries, where alcohol was very cheap. There was also a local hard licorice candy that was used to flavour the vodka, which turned it very sweet.
By the 1990s, the government cracked down on this trade. So in response, companies started making, packaging and selling this licorice vodka as a alcoholic drink, and so the popularity spiked.
The drink is known as Salmiakki Koskenkorva, but it can be made by using any vodka (some would probably insist on Scandinavian vodka), and a sweet known as Tyrkisk Peber. One standard bag of the sweet can be mixed in ratio to 1-2 litres of vodka, depending on your taste.
To produce, add the sweet to the vodka, and agitate over a period of 20 minutes, and then consume with your favourite vodka drinking friends.
The processed drink is a very smooth one, and very very nice compared to the standard aniseed drink, Black Sambucca.