Snacks are an excellent way to learn about other countries. They uncover lots of things about a land’s culture and flavor. During our time living in Toronto, we’ve gotten acquainted with snacks that are uniquely Canadian. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Ketchup Chips + All Dressed Chips
Mix everyone’s favorite tomato condiment with everyone’s favorite crunchy potato snack, and you have Ketchup Chips. They sort of taste like chips squirted with ketchup, but better. Plus, their highly distinct color ("colour" in Canada) cannot be found in nature. Try to eat just one. Even though it may be hard to define, there’s a lot happening in Ruffles All Dressed Chips. There’s definitely some vinegar, and lots of peppery seasonings. It’s more about crunching and less about questioning. But boy are they tasty. Again, try to eat just one.
2. Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars
Billed as “a nice light snack,” Nestlé’s Coffee Crisp bars mix crunchy wafer cookies and a hint of coffee among layers and layers of chocolate. There’s a reason why these little numbers have been going strong for 75 years.
3. Red River Hot Cereal
Red River is, without a doubt, the best hot cereal I’ve eaten in my entire life. I’ll be hoarding boxes of this if and when we leave Canada. With just four hearty ingredients (cracked wheat, cracked rye, cracked flax and whole flax), this super-porridge makes you feel nourished enough to play hockey. Outside. In subzero weather.
4. Ultimate Maple Leaf Cookies
Dare's Ultimate Maple Leaf cookies is pretty much the classic Canadian cookie, sprinkled with real maple syrup and some sort of magical and addictive unicorn powder that hasn’t been identified. One look at the box and you’ve been whisked to a snowy cabin in the woods by a horse-drawn carriage. If you’re into that sort of thing.
5. Milk Bags
Milk in a bag. That’s what they do here. Sounds strange at first, then you (really) get used to it. Carton who? Embracing the concept of milk bags was our first sign of truly adapting to Canadian culture.
6. Nanaimo Bars
Named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Nanaimo bars are a chocolate-and-custard sandwich treat that comes in endless varieties. This is a perfect choice if you’re trying to no-bake your way into a certain Canadian’s heart.
7. Breton Crackers
Every country has its cracker. For Canada, it’s Breton. These iconic wheat rounds go perfectly with hunks of Canadian Brie.
8. Red Rose Tea
Apparently, Canadians drink roughly 9.7 billion cups of tea each year. As a tea lover of gigantic proportions, I really appreciate this. There are teashops everywhere (my favorite of which is David’s). But Red Rose has consistently been sipped from Canadian cups for more than a century.
9. Smarties Chocolate Candy
When Americans hear the word "Smarties," they think of slightly sour sugary discs. In Canada, Smarties are another thing entirely. Canadian Smarties are sugar-coated chocolate candies with a rich British history that goes back more than 130 years. Smarties are not unlike M&M’s. In Canada, American Smarties are called Rockets. You never know when you’ll need that vital piece of information.
I have saved the best for last. Poutine is French fries, gravy and cheese curds (a.k.a. “squeaky cheese”). It is fairy dust on a plate. It’s delightful every day of the week, at every time of day. Even bad poutine is good. If you find yourself in Québec from February 1-7, you’ll be treated to thousands of poutine possibilities during La Poutine Week. Pictured here is a vegetarian “Green Poutine” from Fresh.