More Popular Canadian Grocery Items… With Pictures!

15
SPONSORED LINKS END OF SPONSORED LINKS

The day I took pictures inside my local supermarket, I was aiming for three or four products, max. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of popular North American items that aren’t on the shelves in the rest of the world.

But I… got a bit carried away. And of course, I shop quite often, and I always have my phone with me. Oh, it’s okay, don’t worry, security hasn’t been called yet.

Because food is a fascinating topic from a cultural perspective, here are more More Popular Canadian Grocery Items… With Pictures!

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (Nice Marketing Attempt at Healthy)

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (Nice Marketing Attempt at Healthy)

Macaroni and cheese are an established couple, like peanut butter and jelly (cool name ideas for twins, by the way). Hey, I get that. A quick dinner fix in France could be pasta topped with butter, shredded gruyère cheese and maybe ham—it’s both comfort food and kid-friendly food. So yeah, I can see mac and cheese happening.

The thing is, here, mac and cheese isn’t the result of someone rummaging through the fridge and the pantry and pulling out a box of pasta, some cheese and a stick of butter. This is North America. A Big Food company has to make the job easy. Enters the blue Kraft box, “Kraft Dinner” as it is known in Canada, where you will find dry elbow macaroni pasta and powdered processed cheese sauce. Add milk or butter and ta-da! You’ll get the gooiest mix you can imagine with a strange orangish hue. We made it for Mark once, but he didn’t like it. Picky French!

Kraft Dinner is extremely popular in Canada and even former Prime Minister Paul Martin regularly referred to it as his favourite food. To put it into perspective, I’d say that mac and cheese is as popular as Ramen noodles in most of Asia.

Pizza Pops

Pizza Pops

When you crave pizza, you have options. You can make it from scratch (yeah, right), buy it frozen at the supermarket, stop by Pizza Pizza and grab a slice, check out the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet at Pizza Hut or order from Domino’s. Need even more options? Alright, heat up a Pizza Pop in the microwave.

Pizza Pops are a calzone-type snack, about as big as a Latino empanadas, the size of the palm. They come in several varieties such as “Hawaiian,” “Three Meat,” “Pepperoni & Bacon,” “Deluxe,” “Cheese Burger,” “Canadian,” and “Three Cheese”, and all contain pizza sauce and toping and meat.

They come out of the microwave annoyingly hot and you will invariably burn your tongue.

Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky

Need meat but don’t have the time to kill a cow? Need edible proteins without further preparation? Buy beef jerky! Jerky is lean meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and then dried. Sugar is a major ingredient so the meat is supposed to taste slightly sweet. Jerky, the food of the pioneers, is a very popular product in convenience stores, gas stations and supermarkets.

Pillsbury Refrigerated Baking Products

Pillsbury Refrigerated Baking Products

Pillsbury Refrigerated Baking Products

Pillsbury Refrigerated Baking Products

Frozen pie crusts don’t faze me. French use them too, especially for quiches and other savoury pies. In North America, Pillsbury specializes in giving challenged bakers a hand, and it sells refrigerated and frozen dough. The problem? I’m not sure why, but something bothers me with the packaging. I see these beautiful croissants, but I’m staring at a cylinder of dough. I see lovely cinnamon rolls, but I’m in front of a small box of, again, presumably dough. This is just too high tech, too abstract. I’d rather either buy the baked goods, either make them from scratch. On the other hand, I find these “just add an egg” cake boxes just fine, so I guess I am the problem here.

Tostitos Dips & Spreads

Tostitos Dips & Spreads

North Americans often take junk food to a higher level of junk. Chips, a popular snack around the world, are offered here with… dipping sauces. Originally, these sauces were to be used with tortilla chips or other corn chips, Mexican style, like tortillas y salsa. But now, you can dip any kind of chip into any kind of dip, including the Spanish-sounding “queso” processed cheese.

Note that most people strongly object to “double-dipping”, i.e. taking a bite of the chip, and then re-dipping it into a dip. It’s seen as gross (because processed cheese sauce isn’t??)

Sliced Cheese

Sliced Cheese

Kraft Cheese

Kraft Cheese

Cheestrings

Cheestrings

“Do they have cheese over there?” is probably among the top ten questions French ask me about Canada. Yes, you can find cheese. A few selected imported cheese in supermarkets (Boursin, Vache qui Rit, blue cheese, Saint Paulin, etc.), and a better (and pricier) selection in European delis. And then, you always have “American” cheese, also known as “processed cheese” or just “yellow cheese” and “orange cheese” (I’m not kidding, that’s how some people call it).

Cheddar is very popular, but even the “sharp” version has a very mild taste compared to European cheese. To be honest, I can barely taste the difference between the types of cheese.

What’s interesting is the packaging. There are big rectangular blocks of cheese, sliced cheese (for sandwiches) and string cheese. Note how it says “100% real cheese” on the package? Yeah, that’s kind of scary. Mark is completely in love with “Cheestring” and eats these sticks as a snack. It’s bland and it feels like eating plastic but hey, who am I to judge!

Goldfish Crackers

Goldfish Crackers

North Americans love crackers, flat baked biscuits with supposed health benefits chips don’t have. Crackers are often crumbled in soups or eaten with cheese.

Goldfish, fish-shaped crackers, are toddlers’ crack. They come in various flavours (cheese, BBQ, vanilla cupcake, etc.) and OMG, SO CUTE, A FISH!

Interestingly, Mark recognizes them but doesn’t seem to love them, so he gets my regular grown-up crackers.

Microwave Popcorn

Microwave Popcorn

North America grows corn, harvests corns and—yes, eat corn. In the fall and summer, you can eat it quickly boiled or grilled corn on the cob with butter. But what do you do when you didn’t buy sweet corn at the grocery store? Well, you get your fix with microwave popcorn. Okay, it’s less healthy but the spirit is here, and you’re sure to find a box of it somewhere because there is an entire aisle dedicated to it.

The unpopped popcorn is usually in a sealed paper bags. Heat in a microwave for a few minutes and voilà! The delicious smell of artificial butter will fill the room, the house and the neighborhood. Watch out: microwave popcorn can start office wars since the smell lingers long after the last kernel has popped.

Share.

About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

15 Comments

  1. These posts fascinate me – I’d never have been able to guess what foods we have here that are strictly North American. It’s enough to stop me moving overseas, knowing there’s no queso there. 🙂

  2. Fascinated as well, you should consider starting a REGULAR string of posts related just to food.. let’s call it Zhu’s Weekly grocery shopping adventures 😉

    But really I am loving this, please please post more! What did you feed your family when they visited and what did they think of North American grocery food aisles? Excited for the upcoming posts!

    • 😆 That would be fun! Noted and yes, I think I’ll do a few more at least.

      My mum and brother only visited once. They were shocked that you could shop at 10 p.m., supermarkets close earlier in France. They didn’t speak much English and had no clue what most products were, although I remember they bought Jello, thinking it was a creamy yogurt. Not quite! My mum thought the baguettes at WalMart were alright, similar to the French ones you find in supermarkets. And they found the veggies and fruits were cheap and huge compared to France.

      • Very funny, I visited North America only one time as well and also found it VERY odd that the stores are all open late at night, however I LOVED it! Need something on weekend at 10 pm? No problem! In Europe you wait till Monday. How I wish we had the same thing here in EU. Also the unlimited choices blew my mind, there’s 10000 kinds of anything you want in any flavor any color any size etc… however I did find most food to be rather bland tasting. It lead me to wonder what average Canadian family eats (read COOKS) at home? Well, needless to say, I am excited to see new posts from you!:)

        • I do find mainstream food here in kind of bland, which is why I guess so many people are into “ethnic food”, us included. There are many choices for some products (frozen pizza for instance, so many options! More than in France, for sure) and less for other stuff (like dairy, it seems that Canadians only eat strawberry or vanilla yogurt, although it did improve the past few years).

          I also always wonder what people eat at home and it kind of remains a mystery to me. Would you want me to mail you a couple of Canadian recipe books? The kind we get at the supermarket, or calendars with recipes? I’ll do it if you email me your address!

  3. I find the smell of pop-corn highly disgusting.

    For the cheese, in western Canada, it is possible to find some interesting thing (by the way, French Camembert is available too, and Québécois Camembert too, along with brie and gouda) at Safeways (from BC to SK, maybe MB, and some western US states) and Save-On-Foods (BC and AB only it seems).

    I don’t buy often beef jerky, but like you say, it is sometimes convenient to eat when in a rush. However, I avoid Jack Link’s brand because it is far from the tastiest jerky. Habitually, I like other brand better. And compared to a good swiss “Viande des Grisons”, it is awful.

    • Feng used to work at a movie theater, he would come back smelling of popcorn even though he wasn’t working in the concession. I learned to hate that smell!

    • But that’s perfect! Can you be my test subject, please, por favor? What do you like best?

      I miss Argentina for the food… I’m sure you do too.

  4. Fun post!! I agree with you with the Pillsbury thing. I don’t mind making cake from a box but those rolls of dough seem to go a shade too far for me and yet I don’t mind buying the finished product at all. I don’t know why!

  5. Every time I go grocery shopping I unexpectedly find something Indian which I didn’t believe someone would have all the way here 🙂

    On a different thought, I did buy Beef Jerky

  6. Ew, ew, ew… to all these food items!

    I was interviewed recently for a Canadian expats podcast, and the food question inevitably came up. There really isn’t any food I miss, that I can’t get here. Also, friends ask me what they can bring on their visit, and I usually say maple syrup (rare here, and I don’t even ask a price) or packets of curry paste (which I can get in limited selection but is quite expensive).

    Portuguese ask what is Canadian food, and I have to say, “Nothing that you’d find interesting!” But I do mention poutine if the discussion goes further, and things like Nanaimo bars and clamato juice to make caesars. I’ve never seen clamato juice anywhere outside of Canada, so if there is one thing I would say is very Canadian, it would be that.

    I used to make bannock (aboriginal bread) a lot growing up in Winnipeg because it’s easy for a kid to make.

    • I’ve always wanted to taste bannock but this is not commonly made or found in Ottawa, I’ve never seen it here. There are some North American products I do “miss” abroad, like Philly cream cheese, or American-style coffee, many kinds of sweet spreads (like almond butter) and the wide range of ethnic foods that are common in Canada but “exotic” anywhere else, like tofu or curry.

Leave A Reply