Nitedals Hjelpestikker: Igniting social change through enterprise
By Tina Nielsen | Photos: Nitedals Hjelpestikker
One of Norway’s most well-known and loved brands, Nitedals Hjelpestikker plays a crucial role in many people’s lives, from cabins in the wilderness to the everyday home. The matchsticks go beyond functionality as the price of each box includes a donation to good causes
As the first match factory in Norway, established by bank director F. H. Frølich in 1844, Nitedal was originally located in Oslo, then known as Christiania, but by 1861 it was taken over by the directors’ son.
“Nitedals has a long history in Norway dating back to 1844. The company was a pioneer in match production and an integral part of Norwegian industrial history,” says trade manager Vibeke Hagen.
The strong brand means that Nitedals matches hold nostalgic value and symbolize a time when matches were a vital part of people’s everyday lives, according to Hagen. “Matches were a crucial source of fire used for lighting stoves, candles and lamps,” she says. “Nitedals matchboxes, with their distinctive design and logo, have become an iconic cultural symbol in Norway.”
The humanitarian element came from two enterprising ladies, Mrs Consul Lind and Mrs Consul Willumsen, who were inspired by the Danish matchstick company Lysglimt during a trip to Copenhagen. The boxes cost one penny more than a regular box and the extra money was donated to charitable work. The two ladies presented their idea to Director Frølich and the result was a concept named Blind Children’s Matches. The idea quickly took off and by 1927, the company had received enough money to advertise and spread the word about the charitable donations.
With time, the charitable efforts have expanded. Today, a formalized Hjelpestikke Fund distributes money and has supported the establishment of homes for blind people, while many other organizations also benefit.
By the end of 2011, humanitarian causes had received more than 52 million kroner from match sales and Nitedals received an annual award for its significant contribution to improving the social conditions of children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities.
Quite simply, this profoundly practical product transcends its functionality. Hagen concludes: “Nitedals matches have earned a special place in the hearts of many Norwegians and hold a sentimental value as a symbol of Norwegians industrial history and everyday life in the past.”
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