smartiesOne of the curious differences between Americans and Canadians is how they sate their sweet tooth. Although the big manufacturers are the same in both countries, their top products are quite different. In alphabetical order, here are the top 10 lists:

Hershey: Hershey Bar
Hershey: Oh Henry
Hershey: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Mars: M&Ms
Mars: Milky Way
Mars: Snickers
Mars: Three Musketeers
Nestle: Baby Ruth
Nestle: Butterfinger
Nestle: Kit Kat

Cadbury: Caramilk
Cadbury: Crispy Crunch
Hershey: Oh Henry
Mars: M&Ms
Mars: Mars Bar
Nestle: Aero
Nestle: Coffee Crisp
Nestle: Kit Kat
Nestle: Smarties
Nielsen: Jersey Milk

In case you’re confused, Canadian Smarties are very similar to M&Ms, and nothing like the chalky sweet rolled candy called Smarties in the US. And a Canadian Crispy Crunch is nothing like an American Crunch bar, which is made by Nestle. Snickers is number one in the US, Oh Henry is number one in Canada.

There are a lot more differences as well. Canadians love Hershey’s Glossettes (chocolate covered peanuts and raisins), Nestle Mackintosh toffee, and Maynard’s wine gums (alcohol free). And one of their favourite rich desserts is called Nanaimo Bar. And they call the products in blue above chocolate bars not candy bars (even when they have no chocolate).

Why the differences? It seems to have more to do with what you grow up with than anything else: Agriculture Canada says the Canadian top ten above has hardly changed in the last sixty years. Neither list has a nutritional advantage, or significantly different mix of ingredients. But it’s tough on travellers and ex-pats with a sweet tooth. We’re ordered to bring wine gums and other Canadian favourites when we visit friends who have moved to the US. And when you collapse in your foreign hotel room and open the bar fridge, the chocolate (sorry, candy) bars inside just aren’t quite right.

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14 Responses to SWEET DIFFERENCE

  1. Rayne says:

    Fah! Those aren’t chocolate bars! Michel Cluizel or Valrhona — yeah, now THAT’S chocolate! Both American and Canadian chocolate are pale cousins compared to French and Belgian chocolate, with the notable exception of Scharffen Berger (I’ve not tried Guittard yet, could be another exception, I’ll be happy to sample). The English and Swiss had too much influence over early North American chocolate making; most products are too waxy, too sweet or too milky, hardly chocolate at all. After 200+/- years, the influence has become cultural. What a pity.

  2. Stentor says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had an Oh Henry bar. I feel like I’m missing out on some important part of North American culture now.

  3. kara says:

    American stores have always had way more Candy to select from. PS. I miss “Shreddies” and “HP” sauce tooo.

  4. Only tangentaly related, but some of the American-style Smarties are made in Canada, and they are noticably better tasting. One family friend (something of a Smarty fanatic) will root through a supermarket’s display looking for the “Made in Canada” ones.

  5. Obviously, none of you grew up downwind of the Ghirardelli chocolate factory in San Francisco. Now there’s some real chocolate!As one who spends time on both sides of the border, my theory is that Canadians need a higher sugar content in their food to help them cope with the cold. How else do you explain sweet ketchup and peanut butter? Yucko patooey, as my granddaughter used to say.One thing we can agree on is the Nanaimo bar. Spreading some of those around the middle east would do more for peace that a bazillion roadmaps.

  6. Wifey says:

    <–MUCH prefers Smarties to M&Ms. I’ve never been able to find them in the States.

  7. Doug Alder says:

    The formulation of chocolate for candy varies from one part of the country to another due to atmospheric conditions. American Kit Kats are quite different taste from Canadian which in turn are diffrent from the original British version.

  8. Rob Paterson says:

    Dave I think the heritage issue is key. Growing up in England in the 1950’s has me linked into Cadburys. I know that French, Belgian and Swiss chocalate is technically better but when I need chocolate only Cadburys does it.

  9. Indigo Ocean says:

    Give me Belgian or give me vanilla.

  10. O RLY YA RLY says:

    I have never heard of Hershey Bar, Oh Henry, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Three Musketeers, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Caramilk, Crispy Crunch, Aero, Coffee Crisp or Jersy Milk.However, I do live near Belgium :D

  11. Rayne says:

    Heh! Harald, do you think you’re missing anything? Christopher, Ghiradelli is good stuff, will do when I can’t have the hardcore fix; it’s what we use for making hot cocoa on cold winter mornings and handmade truffles for gifting at Christmas. But if I’m in SF, I’m looking for crab louis and an Anchor Steam Beer. ;-)

  12. judith says:

    Ghiradelli is ok, but Scharffen Berger, ummm that is the good stuff, I miss the San Francisco Bay Area! and RoCocoa’s Faerie Queene’s Manon chocolates, and Joseph Schmidt (of Joseph Schmidt Confections) showing up at a party with a huge bowl sculpted from dark chocolate and filled with his signature truffles (double dark – my favorite)… Dark chocolate heaven… (^:

  13. Dave Pollard says:

    Well, you’ve all inspired me. Each year we have a blind beer-tasting at our house, which is always amazing because no one rates their favourite beer highest. Next time we’ll have an extra feature — a blind chocolate-tasting contest. I promise to include some Belgian and some Ghiradelli chocolate (both available in Canada) in the test, and to post results.And let’s not forget, chocolate is good for you.

  14. O RLY YA RLY says:

    Rayne: actually, some of them might be available here under other names. But I like discovering new things in the supermarket, so I hope not.

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