For as long as Bethesda has been making games, the company has also been making weird nods to one particular confection: the sweet roll. And while it’s hard to deny that sweet rolls are delicious, it’s also a strange easter egg to put so much emphasis on. After all, there’s very little to separate it from any of the other, more popular baked goods out there. But where, exactly, did Bethesda’s sweet roll journey begin?
The answer, quite simply, is in the Elder Scrolls franchise, which also just so happens to be where the joke is featured most prominently. In Elder Scrolls: Arena, players would be asked a series of questions that helped determine there starting class. One such question served as the catalyst for Bethesda’s half-baked joke: “While in town the baker gives you a sweet roll. Delighted you take it into an alleyway to enjoy, only to be intercepted by a gang of three kids your age. The leader demands the sweet roll, or else he and his friends will beat you and take it.” The same question later appeared in Daggerfall and Morrowind, where it also played a role in determining which class a character would play. And while Arena is full of other interesting trivia, the sweet roll would go on to transcend Elder Scrolls.
Later on, Sweetrolls would also make an appearance in Bethesda’s other games, including Fallout 3. In the post-apocalyptic version of Elder Scrolls, players would receive a sweet roll as a birthday gift in the opening segment of the game. After that, the bully Butch would try and steal it in the game’s first role-playing scenario. And while Fallout 3 didn’t feature a real class system, it was still a cool callback to the original question in the Elder Scrolls franchise.
Upon the release of Skyrim, players quickly realized how repetitive some of the guard dialogue was. And while “I used to be an adventurer, like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee” is the most famous Skyrim meme to emerge from that game, that didn’t stop Bethesda from releasing yet another sweet roll reference into the wild. At almost an equal frequency to the arrow-in-knee joke, guards would also bark, “Let me guess, someone stole your sweet roll?” It was one of the more obnoxious quips that the guards would let out, and undoubtedly lead to quite a few quick save rampages through the streets of Skyrim’s many holds.
The joke wasn’t as prominent in Fallout 4, as sweet rolls are really only present in a bakery location of the game, but the appearance is still one of Fallout 4’s Best Easter eggs. That being said, Fallout 4’s sweet rolls are easily the most unappealing the company has ever put in a game, as they do look pretty disgusting. Of course, a few hundred years in the open air will do that to most pastries, so it makes sense in a way.
Perhaps most appealingly, Bethesda gave away free Sweetrolls at PAX Australia back in 2016. This was one of the first times that the confection was fully-realized in the real world, and they were actually very popular. When Bethesda finally released the Elder Scrolls Cookbook, the sweet roll was one of the recipes fans were most excited for, and Bethesda didn’t disappoint. Sweet rolls also made appearances in many of Bethesda’s other games, and there are probably some references that have still been glossed over by fans. Elder Scrolls Online packs in plenty of references to the baked good, and it also makes an appearance in the Blades mobile game.
It seems likely that sweet rolls will also appear in Elder Scrolls 6 when it releases, at least in some capacity. While fans still don’t know much about The Elder Scroll 6, the dessert has shown up in every other entry in the fantasy franchise, making it a likely candidate to be featured in the game. Who knows, maybe the confection will even appear in Starfield, Bethesda’s mysterious space RPG. While that game is still likely a ways away, a space bakery full of sweet rolls and other delicious treats seems like a good nod to the joke, if not something more subtle.
The sweet roll may seem simple, but in a way, it’s become a staple of Bethesda’s games. Sure, it’s not a massive part of the company’s RPGs, but they would feel different without them. It’s one thing fans can almost always count on when they first step out into one of Bethesda’s worlds, and it’s almost something worth looking forward to. Is it a half-baked quip most of the time? Sure. But it’s also something the community can rally behind, and that’s something more games could use.