Canada is not just a slightly more northern version of the United States. Forget government, history and the ubiquitous "eh?" - the real proof of the difference is in the candy.
The typical candy aisle in Canada is a game of "find the item that looks different." Right away you'll notice American favorites (or is it "favourites," since you're in Canada) - M&Ms, Reese's, Nerds. But among the bright packaging, you'll begin to see candy bar names you've never seen before: Aero and Wunderbar and Coffee Crisp.
Not intimidated by these exotic wonders, the staff secured five popular Canadian candy bars and offer their thoughts on your best bets the next time you find yourself in the foreign territory of the Canadian candy aisle.
Canadian Smarties are not the Smarties you're thinking of. Canadian Smarties involve chocolate in a form that closely resembles M&Ms. Like M&Ms, these boxed candies come in a variety of different colors, but they are slightly larger and have a thicker exterior coating than their American counterpart. Here's what 360 staff had to say about them:
"Oh, (chewing candy) Smarties are weird."
"It's a different chocolate flavor."
"And the coating is kind of different too."
Bottom line: If you love M&Ms, don't look to Smarties to fit the bill - they're different enough that you'll probably be disappointed. But if you like rich chocolate and are open to trying something new, give them a shot.
The Aero bar is like a swiss-cheese version of a Hershey's bar - it's a single bar of smooth, aerated chocolate. Like much of the chocolate in Canada, Aero has a richer flavor than American chocolate. Of the Aero bar, 360 staff said:
"It's airy - it's good, smooth."
"It had a bad aftertaste."
"It has more depth to it - Hershey's is waxy by comparison."
Bottom line: Of those who taste-tested the candy, the Aero bar was one of the favorites. It's straightforward chocolate, so it's hard to go wrong with this pick - unless the darker European style is not your thing, like it was for one staff member, who visibly did not enjoy its flavor.
Coffee Crisp is like a large, single bar of a Kit Kat, with a subtle coffee undertone. Here's what 360 staff thought:
"You know those wafer bars? It's like that, only with chocolate."
"You can definitely taste the coffee flavor."
"It's different enough to be interesting."
Bottom line: This was another staff favorite. This may have been because there weren't any weird flavors or textures to get over, but also cited was the novelty of having a mocha flavor in a candy bar, something that is lacking in the American candy aisle.
The Crunchie bar is comprised of "sponge toffee" - or "honeycomb toffee" - a candy substance that is unfamiliar to most Americans. It has an initial sugary crunch that gives way to a tacky texture in the mouth. Here's what staff said:
"Oh, it's like Butterfinger."
"It just tastes weird."
"I don't like it, it ends up chewy in the end."
Bottom line: If you didn't grow up with sponge toffee, it's unlikely you'll have an immediate appreciation for its flavor and texture. But if you've got a good sense of confectionery adventure, grab a bar and have at it - that sponge toffee may find a new fan.
The Wunderbar seems to combine all of the chocolate bar concepts into one place: It features chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and rice crisps. Here's what staff thought about the concept:
"That is a weird combination."
"It's like 100 Grand, but has a lighter flavor."
"It was too spongy."
Bottom line: Too much of a bunch of good things doesn't make for a good thing. This chocolate bar's texture-flavor combination failed to gain any fans on the 360 staff.