Ξ June 30th, 2012 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Canada, holiday(s), United States, weather |
UNTIL 1982, Canada Day was known as Dominion Day. I always thought that had more of a ring to it. Beyond the zippy alliteration, it reminded us citizens that our domain of orderly domesticity was graced by the dominant power of our “Dominus.”
And the rights granted therein to us by the glorious English crown through her colonial appointee, the right honourable governor general.
There was another problem with Dominion Day. Dominion was the name of a national grocery store chain. It would be like calling the Fourth of July D’Agostino’s Day.
Independence (now there’s a great name for a day!) came slowly to our country. In 1965, we dumped the old, staid British ensign for our own new flag. in lIt’s the one with the big red maple leaf in the middle. A simple, sweet leaf! We also have moose and beavers on our coins. And we call our dollars loonies because the coin has an image of a loon. Another old bird, the Queen of England, is on the other side of the coin.
I remember singing “God Save the Queen” every morning in school. “Long live our noble Queen!” we belted, thousands of us tubby little obedient Canadians. I guess it worked. She’s still alive. Now they sing “O Canada” in schools and at most sporting events; usually in French and English. Around the time we were changing anthems, dumping ensigns and renaming holidays, the official use of both languages became mandatory, except in Quebec where the required use of English is a bit fuzzy.
Canada Day comes and goes modestly every year. Sure, there are retail sales promotions and a long weekend. But there isn’t bluster or commodity in Canadian celebration. Canada isn’t big on bunting. Or jet flyovers, fireworks, marching bands or military pomp.
Canadians defer. We save our loonies and don’t jaywalk. It’s illegal, eh. We stand on guard at red lights, even when there is no traffic. We wait for clear, green governing lights to signal our turn and lead us on. Then we tuck our heads down, under wooly toques and worn-out scarves, one eye barely open, squinting headlong into the harsh prairie wind, cautiously, quietly, demurely Canadian.
— RICK MORANIS, a writer and actor
Back home, hockey highlights lead off SportsCenter. That is the height of civilization.
— SEAN CULLEN, a comedian
The gourmets say there isn’t a native Canadian food worth remembering after you’ve left the country. The gourmets have never bitten into a Coffee Crisp.
A Coffee Crisp tastes like Canada to anybody who grew up gnawing on that confection, a memorably crisp blend of coffee cream, cookie wafers and milk chocolate as wholesome and satisfying as the Canadian national anthem. It was a square-edged rectangle, like a brick, wrapped in a yellow-going-to-gold paper that seemed to elevate its value above all rival confections. It was unlike other chocolate bars.
I say “was” because no sooner had I left Canada than its originator, Rowntree’s, was absorbed into the giant international food conglomerate Nestlé. Soon enough, factors beyond the ken of the layman led its new owners to “improve on” the faultless original. Coffee Crisps were reshaped to be longer and slimmer and, as the infallible taste buds quickly revealed, reformulated to be less crisp and less coffee-flavored. Nestlé next undertook to expand the brand: Coffee Crisp Orange, Coffee Crisp Raspberry, Coffee Crisp Café Caramel, even Coffee Crisp White and, God save us, Coffee Crisp Yogurt.
But even in its diminished form, the classic Coffee Crisp still ranked superior to all the sticky-sweet American “candy bar” alternatives. I’d snaffle up half a dozen on a Canadian visit and wolf down a couple right away, just to make sure it wasn’t all just nostalgie du chocolat. It wasn’t. Taste memory never fades.
The demands of homesick Canadian expatriates were finally answered, circa 2006, when Coffee Crisp made its debut south of the border. But Nestlé’s efforts at carving a niche in the United States, alas, seemed half-hearted. I never saw an ad, and found only one seedy neighborhood hole-in-the-wall that even sold Coffee Crisps; the single box was all but hidden down on the bottom row of the candy display rack near the dust kittens and lottery-ticket stubs.
A month later the box was still there, its contents by now grayish and moldy and stale with age when the wrapper was torn away. In another month the box was gone. Coffee Crisps slunk back out of the American market in 2008, as quietly as they’d entered.
I suppose the Coffee Crisp debacle proves yet again that Canadian products — with the notable exceptions of Bombardier jets and half the comedians in Hollywood — just can’t compete in the American big time. But all visiting Canadian relatives and friends arrive at my door with pockets mysteriously bulging, or they won’t be let in.
— BRUCE McCALL, a writer and illustrator
In history class, in seventh grade (or as we like to say in Canada, grade seven) we learned the story of the American Revolution — from the British perspective. Turns out you were all a bunch of ungrateful tax cheats. And you weren’t very nice to the Loyalists. What I miss most about Canada is getting the truth about the United States.
— MALCOLM GLADWELL, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author, most recently, of “Outliers: The Story of Success”
I miss the “u” in color. — LISA NAFTOLIN, a creative director