Egg cartons. Paint rollers. Garbage bags. Electric wheelchairs. Instant replay. Ryan Reynolds.
Canada has given the United States – and the whole world, really – a lot of fantastic things through the years. There are things that we enjoy and things that we almost can’t imagine our lives without. Can you imagine watching any sporting event without the benefit of instant replay? Or any amusement park without electric wheelchairs? And the entertainment world without the chiseled face and humorous antics of the lovable Ryan Reynolds?
But for every wonderful thing Canada sends across the border to their neighbors to the south, there have been many questionable things Canada has “gifted” too. And a lot of them have to do with food and how we eat it, things that people in the US just can’t wrap their heads around. While you might find some of them appetizing, it’s likely that you’ll find most of them just plain strange, and far from enticing you to visit and enjoy local cuisine, they might just act as reminders that you really need to plan ahead about where you’re eating when you visit the Great White North. People in the US may never understand these weird food choices, but Canada doesn’t care. You can decide which ones you would want to try and which ones you might want to avoid!
In Canada they call this amazing concoction “poutine,” a somewhat off-putting name that just serves to confuse everyone else more. That’s too bad because poutine may just be the perfect snack even if the US can’t quite wrap their heads around the combination of ingredients. It starts with a bed of perfectly cooked French fries, which is topped with fresh cheese curds, and finished off with a layer of beef gravy. It’s savory, salty, and snackable. What’s not to love? There are different variations of the treat that you can discover as you travel across Canada - Newfoundland serves theirs with chips instead of fries and Toronto has a version with lobster – but all are rich and delectable. If you don’t care about your salt or cholesterol intake, that is.
18 Sell Potato Chips in Crazy Flavors
It’s true that people in the US have seen some crazy chip flavors, but they’re usually short-lived and done as a gimmick to drive up sales. In Canada, they pride in always having an extreme variety of chips in off-the-wall flavors. Just how crazy are we talking? We’ll just leave this partial list right here and let you be the judge. And remember these are all potato chip flavors. That can be easy to forget when you see the list.Some of the more outlandish ones include: Maple Moose, Montreal Smoked Meat, Hummus, Butter Chicken, Cowboy BBQ Beans and of course, Ketchup.
17 Frozen Maple Syrup Taffy
You may have read about Laura Ingalls making maple syrup candy in the snow if you were a fan of the “Little House on the Prairie” books growing up. It turns out that people in Canada have been making this treat since before Laura was alive. It’s the simplest of candies to make and one of the sweetest to enjoy. There are just three ingredients to the process: clean snow, real maple syrup (not the fake “maple-tasting” syrup that most of us use on our morning pancakes), and wooden craft sticks. Fill a cake pan with the snow. Boil the syrup and then very gently pour the hot syrup in lines on your snow. As it starts to cool, press the wooden craft sticks into the syrup, which will create a lollipop. Voila! A tasty treat to brighten up a snowy day.
16 Eat Something Named BeaverTails
Before you run screaming in the other direction, let’s clear up one thing: BeaverTails don’t contain any actual beaver – or tails, for that matter. Instead, it’s a whole wheat pastry that’s formed in the shape of a beaver’s tail. The pastry is then fried before a variety of toppings are put on it. Apple butter, cinnamon and sugar, and chocolate hazelnut are some of the most popular toppings. Fun fact: people in Canada tried to turn the US on to BeaverTails when the creators made a special one in honor of an important political visit a few years back. They made the BeaverTail in a cinnamon and sugar flavor, and topped it with chocolate hazelnut sauce, maple syrup, and an “O” made out of whipped cream. No word on whether it became a permanent fixture or if they’ll make a new one for every such visit.
15 Pour Ketchup All Over Their Macaroni and Cheese
In Canada, Kraft macaroni & cheese - known there as Kraft Dinner - is treated with a lot more reverence than it is in the United States. Though it looks very much the same, don’t you dare ask for “Kraft Macaroni and Cheese” in Canada. They won’t know what you’re talking about. Instead, ask for KD (Kraft Dinner). That will get you what you want. It has slightly different added ingredient recommendations: the one in Canada calls for more milk and the US one calls for more butter. But Canada takes an extra step to make it more of a delicacy in their eyes: they pour ketchup all over it. We’ll leave you to try that on your own the next time you eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and decide what you think.
14 Drink Milk from Bags
You read that right. The people of the Great White North enjoy their milk straight out of bags. For those of us that grew up with glass bottles or plastic jugs, this idea is almost incomprehensible, but here’s what they do. At the grocery store, they buy a bag of milk that actually has several bags of milk inside it. Once home, they place one of the bags inside a pitcher and snip the end off the bag of milk. (Some people choose to snip a second smaller hole on the other side of the bag to let more air out, but this is optional.) Then they pour the milk right out of the bag that rests inside the pitcher. Because it’s never fully sealed like in a plastic jug, the milk doesn’t last quite as long so they're quick to finish their pitchers.
13 Eat a Dish Called "Pudding Chomeur"
The fancy French name is Pouding Chomeur, which we admit that even though we can’t pronounce that, it looks a lot better than its English translation: unemployment pudding. Legend says that it was created in Quebec during the Great Depression when women factory workers were trying to make something that was tasty and easy to make that required few ingredients. They came up with a dish they eventually named Pouding Chomeur that only called for eggs, flour, butter, and milk, with a caramel-like sauce made from brown sugar. The treat is still around today, but the brown sugar sauce has largely been replaced with authentic maple syrup.
12 Put Ground Meat in Pie
Okay, so this isn’t totally unique to Canada. People in the US have done this occasionally too. But they don’t seem to have the same kind of love for meat pies as their northern neighbors do. Take Tourtiere, for example. This pie is traditionally made up of ground pork and turkey, often also with some game meat thrown in just to up the overall meat taste. But really you can use any kind of leftover meat that you have on hand. You also throw in some minced potatoes, onions, and spices with the meat, and put all of that inside a flaky and buttery crust. Serve the finished pie with ketchup and you’ve got yourself Tourtiere.
11 Eat Flipper Pies
Most people outside of Newfoundland, Canada, have likely never heard of flipper pie and even fewer have tried it. Flipper pie is aptly named because it’s a pie made out of seal flippers. You can see the controversy already. While seals have been endangered in other parts of the world, they have long flourished in Newfoundland and have always been reverently hunted, with the whole carcass being either consumed or used for something like making clothing out of the pelts. No part of the animal is wasted. Flippers have a gamey taste comparable to duck. Given Canada’s love of meat pies (remember the Tourtiere from earlier?) you’ll understand why they decided to start using the seal flipper meat in a pie. If you want to try it today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it outside of Newfoundland so be sure to schedule a stop there.
10 Serve Meat Fondue
People in the US love their fondue, but most stick to the bread and cheese kind or maybe the chocolate and fruit variety. In Canada, they take the whole fondue experience up a notch and make it with meat. Instead of filling a fondue pot with cheese or chocolate, for meat fondue you fill it with vegetable oil and heat it until it’s hot enough to cook meat. Cut raw meat (any meat you like) into bite-sized pieces and season it with salt and pepper before skewering it with the fondue skewers. Dip the skewered meat into the hot oil and give it anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes to cook, depending on the meat. For obvious reasons, namely hot oil, this is not a dish for kids. Once the meat is done, dip into any kind of sauce you like.
9 Eat Jellied Moose Nose
Anyone south of the Canada/U.S. line likely can’t even fathom that such a food exists, let alone actually eating it. But then again, there’s not a lot of moose roaming around the continuous 48 so there’s not a lot of reasons why anyone there would need to figure out uses for moose nose (don’t worry, Alaska – we haven’t forgotten about you. We’re just counting you as siding with Canada on this one). Jellied moose nose is made from cutting meat from the nose, as you would expect. You then cook it in onions, garlic, and spices. Let that cool, and then put the meat into a loaf pan and pour broth all over it. Let it solidify in the fridge and you have just made jellied moose nose. Whether you can get anyone to eat it if you tell them what it is, is a different story.
8 Snack on Deep-Fried Pork Jowls Dipped in Maple Syrup
In French, this dish is called “Oreilles de crisse,” which actually translates to “Christ’s ears.” So that proves that everything sounds better when it’s said in French even if it’s not actually describing the food you’re eating. The dish originated in Quebec and is simple in preparation and crazy good in flavor. It calls for getting your pork jowls cured and smoked (you can buy them already prepared this way) and then deep frying them to a golden brown. It can be eaten as a main course or a side dish. Why dip them in maple syrup? Because it’s Canada, eh, and they love them some maple syrup on just about everything.
7 Serve Peameal Bacon Instead Of Crispy Bacon
When people in the US think of bacon, they likely think of a crispy, long, thin strip of pork meat with lots of fat and grease. People in Canada don’t have the same mental image. Instead they think of peameal bacon, which is pork loin rolled in peameal. It’s still fried, but the slices are much less crispy and are round in shape. They seem much more like what in the US we consider a slice of ham rather than a slice of bacon. Peameal Bacon is also called Canada Bacon, which got its name because of the shortage of pork in the United Kingdom in the mid-1800s that required Canada to ship meat across the pond.
6 Put Game Meat in Nachos
If you love nachos, you’ve most likely had chicken, beef, or pork on top of your nachos at some point. But have you ever tried venison? How about elk or boar, moose or bison? People in Canada are much bigger fans of game meat than in the US, and you’ll see all kinds of game listed on menus much more often when you’re eating your way through Canada. But putting it on nachos takes it to the next level. Add cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and other toppings, and you’ll find that using this type of meat adds a deep flavor element to your chips and really ups your nacho game, if you will. We will.
5 Dine on Cod Tongue
Let’s start by clearing one thing up: Cod tongues aren’t actually made from the tongue of cod. We're not even sure if cods have tongues. So if it’s not the tongue, why call it that and what is it? We have no answer for the first question, but the answer to the second is that it’s actually a small muscle cut from the back of the fish’s neck. The usual preparation is to bread and fry them into golden treats that are most often served as appetizers. Cod tongue has been around for a century, but has only recently been treated more of a delicacy thanks to over-fishing of cod in the 1990s which led to the fish nearly becoming extinct. You can still get cod tongue now, but it will cost you more because it’s not as readily available.
4 Make Cream Soda Pink
When you picture cream soda in your mind, you probably picture a clear bubbly liquid that’s sweetly carbonated. Pink is probably not the first color that you imagine, but that’s just what color it is when you order cream soda in Canada. Crush, the company that makes it, is actually an US company, but their pink cream soda is only available in Canada. Oddly, there are two provinces in Canada that don’t offer the pink colored soda, favoring the clear one instead. But pink is the proper cream soda color for the rest of the country.
3 Enjoy Pizza Sushi
Traditional sushi is, of course, not originally from Canada. It’s Japanese, and they have perfected the art of making it. However, you’ve never seen sushi like the kind the they eat in Canada. First they deep-fry a rice patty that is roughly the size of a hamburger bun so that the outside is crispy and the inside is soft and chewy. Then toppings are added, and those almost always include raw tuna or salmon or both, if you’re really adventurous. Top that with a spicy mayo or a Wasabi aioli and any other ingredients you would typically see in sushi. Then slice your pizza sushi like you would, well, a pizza, and enjoy this unique treat!
2 Enjoy Pink Lokum Called "Big Turk"
“Big Turk” is one of the most unique candy bars on the market in Canada. Its base is Pink Lokum. While you may have remembered the candy’s name if you’ve read C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” you’re likely still not sure what it is if you’re from the US. Turkish Delight is a combination of fruit juice, gelatin, food color, and corn syrup. The “Big Turk” is pink lokum with a thin layer of chocolate coating on it so the final result is a berry-flavored bar with a little bit of chocolate. Even its maker Nestle says that’s an acquired taste, but for those who have it, there’s just no substitute for the Big Turk.
1 Chew Soap-Flavored Gum
The soap-sucking scene from “A Christmas Story” is likely playing in your head right now as you read that there even is such a thing as soap-flavored gum. Oh there is, and Canada owns it. It’s called Thrills, and it’s actually gum that’s flavored with rose water, but the result seems to taste like soap to a lot of people. Thrills got so much feedback on the taste that instead of changing the formula, they decided to run with it. Now they proudly say, “It still tastes like soap!” on the front of every pack of gum. While it likely turns a lot of people away, it must be a selling point for some since Thrills soap-flavored gum has been around since the 1950s.