There are a few foods that are top of the list for being quintessentially Canadian treats: Butter tarts. Poutine. Nanaimo bars.
So when Buzzfeed Canada put out a video this week called “Canadian Chocolate Bars (Nanaimo Bars) Four Ways,” Canadians everywhere lost their minds.
Even the premier of British Columbia had to give the publication grief: “I love a good Nanaimo Bar. But ‘Canadian Chocolate Bars’ ??” tweeted Horgan. “C’mon man.”
I love a good Nanaimo Bar. But "Canadian Chocolate Bars" ??— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) September 17, 2020
C'mon man. https://t.co/7kdDREUyjw
The video walks you through four takes on the classic dessert: mocha, gingersnap, coconut, and, in perhaps the most egregious riff of all, birthday cake. The video instantly sparked outrage, with outcries of “blasphemy” and “heresy.”
That is a Nanaimo bar. This is a Canadian chocolate bar: pic.twitter.com/ttUVjb5LmZ— Ty (@xTylerB_) September 16, 2020
Hey, Buzz. Nanaimo is a city. You don't get to rename the Bar. Get it?— Robert Lee (@downtownrob88) September 16, 2020
No. Just no. Quit it. Knock it off. These are an insult to everything that is a Nanaimo Bar. The people responsible should be schooled on actual Nanaimo Bars.— Laura M (@TTHipFreak) September 17, 2020
The backlash was so swift and pronounced, Buzzfeed Canada had to apologize: “Our friends in LA made this video and named it Canadian Chocolate Bars. I’m sorry to all the Canadians we’ve offended with this video. It was never our intention. - Sincerely, a real Canadian.”
The City of Nanaimo even has a page on its website dedicated to the treat. “This creamy, chocolatey treat’s origin is elusive, shrouded in mystery, and claimed by many as their own. Of course, we know that Nanaimo Bars originated in Nanaimo, or they would be called New York Bars, or New Brunswick Bars,” reads the intro, followed by an official recipe.
Last year, the Nanaimo Bar was among the Canadian treats honoured with its own postage stamp, as part of the “Sweet Canada” series.
“I couldn’t be prouder than to have the dessert recognized as one of Nanaimo’s many contributions to the world,” Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said at the time.
However, the stamp generated controversy over the ratio of filling to base, which many people said was not correct.
Krog credited the bar’s surge in popularity of late to its unparalleled taste.
“It’s popular because it’s really good,” he said, noting that Nanaimo bars were on the menu when then-U.S. president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, for a state dinner in 2016.
“It is a signature dessert for this country, up there with the famous butter tart and the other desserts,” Krog said. “I always say to everybody, whenever I’m at an event if there’s Nanaimo bar: ‘Be patriotic. Eat some Nanaimo bar.’ ”
— With files from Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist