While most people believe that America is the snack capital of the world, Canadian snack sales have never been far behind. No, they don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts anymore or an obsession with Krispy Kreme, but there are some awesome Canadian creations out there that can’t be matched in any American snack. Without further ado, here are the top 10 Canadian snacks that America wished they had.
10. May West Cakes
A staple of Canadian snack cuisine, May West Cakes were created by René Brousseau, a Quebecois baker with a love for cakes and pastries. During the depression of the 1930’s, Brousseau dropped out of school to work as an apprentice baker and eventually ended up working as a pastry chef at the Vaillancourt bakery in Quebec City. It was during his time there that he came up with the idea for the cake—a chocolate-coated, cream filled vanilla cake. Later iterations were tested with filling the puffy cake layers with custard instead of light cream, but these didn’t make it far into production and were quickly replaced with the original recipe. The snack’s unusual name apparently originates from the famous movie star, Mae West who starred in popular wartime movies, however Brousseau’s son says that the name comes from the puffiness of the cake which resembles a military life-vest of the same name. When the actress died, the spelling of the cake was changed to the one we know today: May West with a Y, so as to avoid a lawsuit. Brousseau never made much money from his creation as he was a single baker within a much larger company, and it is also widely debated whether he is truly the actual creator of the treat, but so far no one has found any evidence otherwise. The cakes were a wild success upon their release and continue to be a popular choice among Canadians, especially in Quebec. Today, the recipe is owned and sold by a Quebec-based company, Vachon Inc. and are advertised with the image of a cartoon pinup, perhaps as a continued link to Mae West. Although there may be some imitation snacks in the US, none of them quite come close to the flavor of May West Cakes. Americans will just have to hope they make their way over the border.
9. Crush Pink Cream Soda
One of the “Crush” company’s popular flavored sodas, Crush Pink Cream Soda comes in a bright pink can and tastes exactly like a traditional cream soda drink. The nuclear pink colour of the soda itself also compliments the can and sets it apart from some of the company’s other brightly colored flavors. The “Crush” company originally only carried an orange-flavored soda but was quickly able to expand their market after the huge success of the drink. Its main competitor is the Fanta brand as they promote similar tasting drinks and use many of the same colors, but that hasn’t stopped Crush from taking its place among the highest grossing soda companies in Canada. It is also one of the few brands that doesn’t add caffeine to most of their beverages. There are also a few variants of the color of the soda across the country. In Quebec as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, Crush Cream Soda is sold clear, while in the other provinces, it is known to be the pink drink we all love. While Crush Pink Cream Soda isn’t sold in the US, Americans have been ordering it online and loving the taste from a distance. Although its similarities to Fanta are undeniable, there’s no competing with the Canadian formula. The US will just have to wait for the soda to come their way!
8. President’s Choice Cookies
Although the brand sounds American at first glance, President’s Choice is a staple in Canadian grocery stores, marketing a wide range of private label products from frozen goods to snacks to anything in between. Commonly called the “PC” brand, the company began marketing food products in 1984 and quickly began making their own snacks. Among these were their Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies which have graced the shopping carts of millions of Canadians every year. Made with their own brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips, the cookies are widely known as the default store-bought chocolate chip cookie and come a close second to homemade cookies. Almost every Canadian kid born after their release remembers having these in their home at some point and can fall back on their chocolaty flavor for an easy and nostalgic snack. The cookies are made with more natural ingredients in mind as Dave Nichol, the president of Loblaws Supermarkets, was always looking for high-quality products to put on shelves in grocery stores. And sure enough, he created one of the most beloved Canadian cookies with only a few setbacks along the way. In total, it took about a year to create the perfect recipe, but when they finally got it right, the product was flying off of shelves. Within three years of its release, it had become a bestseller despite the fact that this was a private label product and only available in 20% of stores across the country. The cookies are also about 39% chocolate chips in terms of weight which outdoes any competitors by almost double. Today, the sales of these truly decadent cookies are still on the rise, and America wishes it had an equal to this awesome snack.
7. Kraft Dinner
Often considered a very American food item, Kraft Dinner was actually released in Canada around 1937, with imitation products coming out of the US and Australia not long after. The processed cheese and noodle combo is bought up by Canadians almost 55% more than Americans, making up 1.7 million of the world’s 7 million boxes of Kraft Dinner sold each week. Like the PC brand, Canadians have even taken to shortening the name to the initials “KD”, accepting it into their homes like the cultural icon it has become. When asked about their idea of Canadian foods, immigrants to the country almost always mention Kraft Dinner, citing the collective love for it. The food was also briefly promoted by a popular band, the Barenaked Ladies in their song “if I had a Million Dollars” in which they admit that even if they had that much money, they would still buy KD. But when fans started throwing boxes of the stuff onstage during concerts, they spoke out and suggested that a donation of the item to a local charity would be more helpful. Several Canadian Prime Ministers have even made mention to the product. Paul Martin admitted that it was his favorite food, though he had never learned to prepare it himself. Stephen Harper also spoke about feeding it to his kids, also mentioning that he liked to add hot dogs to the mix. This seems to be a common trend in the Kraft Dinner world—most Canadians like to add their own twist to each pot they make, personalizing their experience with the noodles. Even with similar products in the US, Americans are missing out on the cheesy goodness of the Canadian version of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – fondly known as KD.
6. Vachon Passion Flakie
Created by the Quebec brand Vachon Inc, the Vachon Passion Flakie is an amazing pastry snack beloved by Canadians. Created by the same company that markets May West cakes, the flaky pastry became popular for its creamy apple and raspberry filling. The pastries are meant to be eaten with whipped cream and additional fruit and set themselves apart from the usual manufactured sugar taste with their natural fruit flavors. The Passion Flakie comes in a bright pink box with one or two of their square pastries pictured on the front. As well as apple raspberry, the Flakie brand also comes in a lime flavor for summer. Some Canadians have compared this treat to the popularity of the American twinkie and cite the same kind of cult following. Along with the Passion Flakie, Vachon also manufactures treats like Ah Caramel!, Jos. Louis, and Hostess cakes and maintains their status as a homegrown bakery rather than a corporation, although it is currently owned by Canada Bread since 2015. The founder, Joseph-Arcade Vachon and his wife, Rose-Anna famously moved from their country farm to purchase the Leblond Bakery in the hopes that their children to return from their job search in the US. They began to make pastries and cakes, and their traditions are still carried out today in products like the Passion Flakie. If America thought they had good pastries, they’d be mind blown by this fruity snack.
5. Laura Secord chocolates
Named after the famous pioneer mother who trekked across the Canadian wilderness in 1813 to warn a general of an impending American attack, Laura Secord is one of the most famous chocolate companies in Canada. Specializing in ice cream and chocolate, the company was founded by Frank P. O’Connor in 1913 and had its first location on Yonge street in Toronto. In 1969, it was sold to another Canadian owner and remains in Canadian hands to this day with current owner Jean Leclerc of Quebec City. The company carries amazing chocolates of every flavor and color, and as every Canadian knows, when you buy ice cream from a Laura Secord retailer, it comes with a complimentary piece of chocolate on the top of the ice cream which has the portrait of the woman herself stamped on it. The connection to Canadian history is what ties people so close to this company and maintains a careful bond with its consumers. While America may have Uncle Sam, Canada has Laura Secord, the chocolaty savior.
4. Maynard’s Swedish Berries
Marketed by a division of Cadbury, Maynards Swedish Berries are soft, raspberry shaped candies that taste like a sweeter version of the actual fruit. The candies have been said to taste similar to another gummy candy, Swedish Fish. And although they taste similar and share a brand name, there’s no beating the particular natural sweetness of Swedish Berries. The Maynards company began in London England in 1880 with the two brothers making candies in their Stamford Hill kitchen, and although its seeds are in Europe, the company manufactures directly for Canada, as it is owned by the Canadian Cadbury company. Along with beloved candies like Swedish Berries, Maynards creates other awesome snacks like their famous Wine Gums which imitate the taste of a certain fermented grape drink, and fuzzy peaches, which mimic the taste of real peach. In fact, many of Maynards products are fruit based! Swedish Berries are marketed in a pink resealable bag with the trademark crown logo across the front. They’re available in almost every grocery store and large retail outlets like Walmart, which just goes to show how popular these candies really are. And while Canada can easily enjoy these awesome old-fashioned treats, America will just have to settle for a substitute.
3. Coffee Crisp
A staple item found in every kid’s Halloween bag in October, Coffee Crisp is undoubtedly one of the most popular manufactured candy bars in Canada, right up there with Kit Kat and Smarties. It comes in a bright yellow wrapper with heavy red lettering, along with the Nestle brand stamp. The chocolate itself is a layered vanilla wafer and coffee-flavored filling covered with milk chocolate which makes for an intense combination. Because of the layers, many consumers of the candy bar say that they each eat it differently—some peel back the layers one by one, and others just take a solid bite out of the bar. The treat originated from England under the name “Rowntree’s Wafer Crisp,” but was quickly introduced to Canadians as “BisCrisp.” The name was changed to Coffee Crisp in 1938 when the coffee idea was introduced, and the new flavor eventually took over because of its popularity, bumping the other fruit flavored bars out of commission. Since then, only a few different flavors have made a comeback such as Coffee Crisp Orange, Raspberry, and Coffee Crisp White. However, these are widely considered specialty items and separate from the original flavor that Canadians know and love. The chocolate bars also come in many sizes and can even be found in mini versions in mixed boxes of chocolate around holiday times. America is definitely missing out on this awesome treat.
2. Mackintosh’s Toffee
Created by John Mackintosh in England around 1890, this toffee is well known all over Canada as one of the very best out there. Although the original English version is known to be sold in tough bars, the Canadian version is cited to be a little softer and packaged in a tartan box. The toffee also comes in a variety of flavors like Malt, Harrogate, Mint, Egg & Cream, and Coconut, and each flavor is also color coded so it’s easy to distinguish which one is which. Recently, Canadian sellers started offering a similar hard bar of toffee like the original English counterpart, although it’s thinner and wrapped in foil. It also contains condensed milk as a main flavoring ingredient and has a little less of a creamy, buttery flavor. The brand often boasts that it has been around for over 100 years, and therefore knows how to make the very best toffee. Many Canadians would agree, and it becomes even more popular around holiday times. While America has a lot of different snacks nailed, toffee is something that Canada does best.
1. Vachon Miami
At number one, we have the Vachon Miami, another wildly popular product of Quebec. These boxed cakes are amazing with a light, spongy consistency and a creamy frosting on top. They are also flavored with toasted coconut which compliments the vanilla cake really well, and there are eight cakes in each pack, so there’s plenty to go around for sharing with friends. The Vachon brand is a well-trusted and high-quality company that consumers know they can trust, and so it comes as no surprise that one of their products is at the top of this list. The cakes are packaged similarly to the May West cakes and play off the old-style comfort food aesthetic which consumers have come to know and love. Several American reviewers have attested to the cake’s awesome flavor and love the addition of coconut to the snack. Some said it reminded them of the popular American brand “Little Debbie” which seems to have a similar marketing approach and offers the same kinds of cake based treats. Overall, the Vachon Miami cakes are a hit in Canada and the US, although Americans will just have to order online to get a taste of greatness!