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.
Cost: $3.77 for a box of six cakes at No Frills.
Place of origin: Montreal, Quebec.
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.
If you have any exotic junk food suggestions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.