Canada is known for many things: hockey, freezing cold winters, universal healthcare and extraordinary politeness to name a few. One thing Canada is not known for is its food. It is hard to identify quintessential Canadian cuisine and it isn’t like people around the world are going to their local Canadian restaurant (“Who’s in the mood for Canadian food tonight?).
There are, however, some Canadian foods that any expat living outside of Canada will tell you how much they miss:
1. Coffee Crisp From the classic commercial (“I like my Coffee…Crisp!”) to the wafferlicious crunch, there is just something so comforting about a Coffee Crisp bar. The taste is difficult to describe to someone who has never had one. Alternating layers of vanilla wafer and coffee-flavoured foam candy, covered in chocolate, its like someone turned a latte into a chocolate bar.
2. Ketchup Chips: it is a mystery why ketchup-flavoured chips are not available in the United States. It seems like such an obvious flavour: French fries are made of potato and go well with ketchup, so why wouldn’t potato chips? Though they don’t quite taste like ketchup and some find the flavour overpowering, many a Canadian kid has been sent to wash that dark red ketchup seasoning off their hands before they get it all over the house.
3. Crush Cream Soda: what to say about a soft drink that is an un-natural bright pink, smells wonderfully like vanilla and tastes as sweet as can be? While Crush soft drinks are available in multiple flavours all over the world, only Canadians get to enjoy the sweet, sweet nectar that is Crush Cream Soda. Interestingly, while the drink is pink all across Canada, it is clear in both Quebec and Newfoundland Labrador.
4. Jos Louis: a snack-cake consisting of two round slices of red velvet cake sandwiching a cream filling and covered in chocolate. Also available in a half moon shape (1/2 Joe Louis, though who would want that?), Jos Louis’s have been the go to after school snack for Canadian kids since 1932. While Entenmann’s tried to copy it in the U.S. with their originally named Enten-Mini's Chocolate Half Rounds, there is nothing like the original, CANADIAN Jos Louis.
5. Hickory Sticks: another potato chip snack to make this list. Hickory Sticks are potato sticks with genuine “simulated hickory smoke” flavour. One of the last surviving products of the once-massive Hostess Potato Chip company before it was absorbed by Lays. The size of the sticks made it seem like there were more in the bag than any other kind of chip. Many Canadians will swear that a bag of Hickory Sticks seemed to last forever.
6. McDonald's BBQ Sauce: yes, I know McDonald's serves BBQ sauce in the US and other countries, but none of them are quite like the magical concoction we have here in Canada. While the US version is more of a traditional, smoky sauce, we Canadians are treated to one with a more indescribable taste. Is it sweet? Is it tangy? Smoky? Whatever the taste, there is almost nothing that McDonald's serves that doesn’t taste better dipped into that liquid gold.
7. Smarties: go into a store in the US and ask for Smarties and you will be amazed at what you are given. Not those wonderful brightly coloured, candy-coated, shined to a high gloss drops of chocolate we have here, but small, round sugary candies that we call “Rockets”. While the debate goes continues on whether the different colours actually taste different, the only real debate is whether or not you eat the red ones last?
8. Kinder Eggs: did you know that you can be arrested at the border trying to bring Kinder Eggs into the United States? They are illegal there and considered contraband. Only we Canadians get to experience the sheer joy of eating that chocolate shell, lined with that silky white coating, all the while eager to find out what surprise is contained inside. Did you know that there are entire (very successful) YouTube channels that only show people unwrapping and opening Kinder Eggs to show the prize inside?
9. Nanaimo Bars: what would a list of Canadian foods be without including these delicious, no bake bars that originated in Nanaimo, BC? Are they a brownie? A chocolate bar? They are full of chocolately, custardly, crispy wafer goodness…so does it really matter?
10. Poutine: I know people will tell you that they can get poutine all over the world. As Canadians we have only one response to that…if it doesn’t “squeak”, than it isn’t poutine.
With all of the amazing foods available only in Canada, I know I must have missed some. What Canadian only foods do you think deserve a place on the list?