We’re coming up to the Easter long weekend, and depending on your faith and cultural practices, for many Canadians that means treats: hidden around the house, provided by loved ones, or dropped off by a very busy bunny. It’s a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in some sweetness. But did you know that certain candy bars and snacks are unique to our country, and our Canadian identity?
A number of years ago, I was given the task of providing a basket of treats for my two American “nieces” who were visiting for the long weekend - the young daughters of my close college friends who had married and moved to the States shortly after graduation. I’m ashamed to say that I totally dropped the ball and was scrambling, the day of, to find a store that was open (Long weekend! Stat holidays!) and that had not been seriously picked over (if you’ve ever tried buying treats after Good Friday, you’ll know what I mean - all the “good stuff” is GONE).
During my desperate search, I stopped to get gas. I went in to pay and, glancing down at the row of candy bars at the counter, I had a stroke of genius: an idea that could turn me from a zero to a hero. Looking at the boxes of Smarties, I remembered my friends once remarking that they DIDN’T HAVE SMARTIES in the States. (They have a candy called “Smarties” apparently, but they are more like our sugary “Rockets”). As the friendly clerk scanned my card I wondered “What ELSE don’t they have?”.
I got on my phone and, after a quick google search, pulled up a list of Canada-exclusive candy. Scanning the list, I grabbed what I could that was in front of me, compiling an alarming array of goodies. Sure, there were no “bunnies” or “eggs” but there WAS delicious, exclusive Canadian content:
ONLY IN CANADA: Smarties, Eat More, Big Turk, Coffee Crisp, Maltesers, Caramilk, Wunderbar, Crispy Crunch, Mr. Big, Jersey Milk and MacIntosh’s Toffee.
And, not specifically exclusive to Canada, but NOT available in the States:
Wine Gums, Swedish Berries, Aero, Crunchie and Dairy Milk.
I topped it off with a bag of Hickory Sticks and Ketchup chips to complete the Canadian experience. The clerk looked at me with an expression that seemed to say hey, no judgement here, I don’t know your life, and said “I guess it's good to have snacks in the car. Just don’t keep them on your dashboard, or the chocolate will melt.”
After thanking her for her good wisdom, I headed to the hotel where my friends were staying. They seemed a little concerned when I presented the enormous stack of candy bars to their wide-eyed little girls but hey, it’s not my job to protect their kids from cavities. It IS my job to become their favourite Canadian “uncle”. Which I am.
The taste test that followed was a group event. The girls have a discerning palette, and had acute observations about our Canadian offerings:
Our chocolate is better, they decided. And it is! Canadian chocolate companies use a different recipe than Americans. The result is a smoother, sweeter, thicker coating. I confirmed for the girls that this has been well documented by the experts.
Big Turk (with its gelatinous Turkish Delight filling) is an acquired taste.
Coffee Crisp may be a national treasure, but it is for grown-up tastes. It was also decided that Dairy Milk’s Fruit and Nut is a chocolate bar… for dads.
Maltesers and CARAMILK beat their American cousins (Whoppers and Caramello) hands down for chocolate coating and quality of filling.
And, Wunderbar lives up to its reputation as the “greatest candy bar ever created,” as reported by the International Business Times.
So now you know. I hope you’ll go into this long weekend with these important lessons: If you are stuck for last-minute candy or snacks, your local Petro-Canada has got your back with a sweet and salty array of goodness. And don’t forget, it is possible to be patriotic whilst enjoying chocolate this weekend. #winning
What Canadian candy bar or snack keeps you fuelled up? Share your favourites in the comments below!
~ Paul D.