Amongst the American and British imports, a candy bar and chocolate aficionado travelling to Canada will find a number of uniquely Canadian options. All of these candy bars are quite delicious as Canadians tend to take their chocolate pretty seriously. In fact, in 2013 Hershey’s, the most beloved and ubiquitous candy bar company south of the border, had to change the ingredients in and improve the quality of their chocolate products sold in Canada to appeal to the more discerning palates found there. These candy bars make a great treat while you’re in Canada, and also a great, cheap souvenir to bring back home for your friends and family. Enjoy!
1. Neilson Jersey Milk
Probably every country has its basic milk chocolate bar, and the Neilson Jersey Milk is a pretty good one. It’s divided into squares and easy to share. What’s the deal with the name? The Neilson Company was founded by William Neilson in Ontario in 1893 as an ice cream manufacturer. Neilson cared for his employees a great deal and didn’t want them to be out of work in the winter when people generally don’t eat a lot of ice cream, so he branched out into chocolate making. In 1924, the Jersey Milk bar was debuted with a marketing campaign where the company’s leading salesman received a Jersey Cow as a publicity stunt. Cadbury bought the Neilson line of candy bars in 1987, but the Neilson dairy is still going strong, and the name lives on with this chocolate bar.
The Caramilk bar has been made by Cadbury Canada since the 1960s. It’s your basic milk chocolate divided into squares but with caramel in the middle. The caramel is a bit more liquidly than most caramel-filled chocolates, and can get a little messy. It’s all worth it though! The Caramilk is very similar to the more well know in the U.S. and U.K. Cadbury’s Caramello.
3. Crispy Crunch
Crispy Crunch is another candy bar that originated with Neilson and is now made by Cadbury. This one has a crunchy peanut flake on the inside with a thin layer of chocolate covering it on the outside. Crispy Crunch is very similar to the American candy bars Butterfinger, 5th
Avenue, and Clark, however there a couple of differences. Compared to those brands, Crispy Crunch has a firmer, less flaky (thus less messy) centre. It’s also not quite as sweet and has some saltiness mixed in. The chocolate coating is slightly darker than the American bars, but not at all bitter. When this candy bar was first made in 1912, it was in a cylindrical log shape, but in 1930 it was decided to flatten the bar into its present form.
4. Mr. Big
At eight inches (20 centimetres), Mr. Big is nearly twice the size of the average candy bar and therefore very aptly named! This candy bar was born in 1977 and is made by Cadbury Canada. It consists of vanilla wafer, peanuts, caramel, and rice crisps coated in milk chocolate. Despite its size, Mr. Big has a very light and airy
feel to it. Those who are knowledgeable about British candy bars will think that this one is very similar to a Lion bar. Interesting fact: during an attempt to introduce Mr. Big to the United States in 1995, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal’s image was used on the wrapper and the candy bar was marketed as a “Shaq Snaq”. Sadly, Mr. Big’s U.S. debut was about as successful as O’Neal’s mid-90s movie career, and was quickly discontinued.
Sort of a play on words because the word “wunderbar” translates to “marvellous” or “wonderful” in German, but of course can also be read as “wonder bar”. Curiously, despite the obvious German connection and the fact that the only other country outside of Canada where Wunderbar is regularly sold is Germany, Cadbury used Scandinavian Vikings and Viking imagery to sell the Wunderbar for many years. Made since 1976, Wunderbar’s wrapper describes it as a “peanut butter caramel experience”. The bar is made of creamy peanut butter, light rice crisps, and chewy caramel, and covered in milk chocolate. The aforementioned experience is a combination of crispy, creamy, crunchy, and chewy. Like most Canadian candy bars, this one has a British cousin in the Starbar.
Moving away from Cadbury, the Mirage chocolate bar was introduced by the defunct Rowntree Company in the 1980s, but is now made by Nestle Canada. Apparently, Mirage’s name comes from the idea that it’s “here one moment, and gone the next”. This candy bar is your basic milk chocolate that is aerated and thus bubbly and light on the inside. Aerated chocolate starts out light and firm in the mouth but then quickly melts and becomes denser and creamier. This one is pretty much an exact copy of the British Wispa chocolate bar, and also very similar to the Aero, another Nestle product.
7. Coffee Crisp
Another offering from Nestle, this one has been made since the 1939 and has something of a cult following outside of Canada. It remains popular in Canada itself and routinely ranks amongst the best selling candy bars in the country. Coffee Crisp consists of layers of vanilla wafer and coffee-flavoured cream covered in milk chocolate. Responding to an online petition, Nestle started selling Coffee Crisp in the United States in 2006; however this didn’t last long probably due to lack of any sort of marketing. In 2014, to celebrate the 75th
anniversary of the candy bar, Nestle introduced a latte flavoured version.
Even that most American of chocolate brands Hershey has a uniquely Canadian offering. The Eat-More is a long flat bar that consists of chewy dark toffee, chocolate and little bits of peanuts. Chewy and stretchy are probably the key words here. This one is easy to share or to have only some of and save the rest for later. The Eat-More was created by once famous in both the U.S. and Canada Lowney Company.
9. Laura Secord
If you’re looking for a more upscale Canadian chocolate experience than what is found in the supermarket check-out aisle, then you have a few options. One of them is the Laura Secord Company. Laura Secord was founded in 1913 in Toronto and now has over 100 locations throughout Canada. Who is Laura Secord? She was basically the Canadian Paul Revere during the War of 1812. Visitors to the Niagara Falls area can tour her house to find out more. In additional to boxes of chocolate they offer various chocolate bars such as: Milk Chocolate, Roasted Almond, Maple Crunch, Frosted Mint, and Toffee Crunch.
If you’re in the provinces of British Columbia or Alberta, chances are you will be near a Purdy’s Chocolates. The company was founded in 1907 and currently has about 60 locations. Purdy’s offers a lot of the usual: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with crisps. However, they also offer some more exotic chocolate bars, such as: Blueberry Almond, Goji Dark Chocolate, and Marzipan.