Exotic Junk Food Review: Say it ain't so, Jos

Quebec’s beloved mini cakes remain a mystery out west

After several years in a sugar-induced coma, we’re reviving our Exotic Junk Food column, which explores the more unusual treats, candy and snacks from around the world that can be found in Vancouver.  

Jos Louis
Cost: $3.77 for a box of six cakes at No Frills.

Place of origin: Montreal, Quebec.

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What is it: Basically the Canadian equivalent of a Hostess Ding Dong, Jos Louis are a beloved Quebecois junk food staple that goes back to 1932 when bakers Joseph-Arcade Vachon and his wife Rose-Anna Giroux created the little chocolate-covered, cream-filled red velvet cakes and named them after their sons Joseph and Louis. Similar to how the McRib got its name. The Vachon Company (whose logo looks a lot like the Johnny Canuck logo) has gone through a number of corporate masters since its inception, and Jos Louis’ packaging has modernized considerably, employing intentionally retro fonts and inexplicably a street-wise mascot who wears a sideways trucker hat, sunglasses and a gold chain with a Tamagotchi for a medallion. Traditionally accompanied by a Pepsi, a cigarette and presumably a misguided sense of immortality, Jos Louis cakes have succumbed to at least one societal pressure. In 2006, Vachon reduced or eliminated trans fats in all its products. Zut alors!

Verdict: Eerily spongy and overly sweet but without a discernible flavour, these babies make Wagon Wheels seem artisanal in comparison. And like Jacques Parizeau, the sitcom La Petite Vie and the Montreal Canadiens’ 1998-99 season, Jos Louis’ appeal is difficult to understand outside of Quebec.

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If you have any exotic junk food suggestions, send them to mkissinger@vancourier.com.
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