The United States is so close to Canada that it almost seems like one big country. However, if you actually LIVE in Canada, you will realize there are some huge differences. Free health care, lots more social liberalismC and we don’t have nearly as many food choices (except ketchup chips…we get ALL of those). Canada has come a long way in the 14 years I’ve lived there (how did that happen? It seems like I just moved here.) but there are still a lot of American foods that you can’t really get in Canada unless you find them at a specialty store.
One morning, while I was enjoying my Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit, I thought “Hmmm… I wonder what everyone else brings back to Canada when they visit the US. I wonder if I’m missing anything.” So I did what I always do when I have these burning questions. I asked my Facebook friends what they bring home. Here is the list (with affiliate links in case you are going to the US and want to order on Amazon.com so you don’t have to shop around). Some items require refrigeration but I am making my list like I could bring ANYTHING home without worrying about refrigeration or weight.
- Jimmy Dean Sausage – Jimmy Dean is, in my opinion, the best breakfast sausage out there. Unfortunately, you can’t get it in Canada. We have been known to bring back 25 pounds when we drive to Montana. It freezes well and it makes the best sausage and cheese balls EVER.
- Cherry Coke Zero – For years you couldn’t get any of the Cherry Cokes in Canada. They’ve changed that and you can get the full sugar variety. However, I prefer the Cherry Coke Zero. Unfortunately, you can’t get that north of the border. Also try Vanilla Coke, Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper and Cherry 7-Up.
- Sugary Cereal – I know, I know…it’s not really GOOD for you but who cares. The cereal aisle in the US makes the Canadian version look pale in comparison. May I suggest: Count Chocula, Cinnamon Pecan Special K, Fruity Pebbles and Cookie Crisp.
- Pimento Cheese – Funny thing is, I didn’t really like pimento cheese growing up. Now, I love it and buy it every time I go to the US. I love it slathered on saltine crackers. Yum! Price’s is my brand of choice. Don’t cheap out. You will regret it when you get icky fake cheese (as opposed to delicious fake cheese).
- Instant Grits – Ok, this is a new one for me. I’ve finally developed a taste for grits and you can’t really get them in Canada. Though I can hear my Granny telling me that regular grits are WAY better than instant.
- Rotel – I have no idea why tomatoes and chilis together in a can hasn’t become a thing in Canada. If you want to make easy and delicious queso dip, Rotel is a MUST.
- Candy – It’s interesting how different the candy aisle is between the US and Canada. When my brother and sister were younger, I would always bring them Coffee Crisp, Crunchie and other candy bars you can’t get in the US for a treat. Now, I sometimes bring candy back to Canada from the US that I can’t get. Like what, you ask? Well, for a start Zero bars, PayDay, Almond Joy and Mounds, Butterfinger (which you can find sometimes in Canada but not always) weird flavoured M&Ms (Caramel is yummy) and more. ALL THE CANDY!
- Coffee Creamer – Again, maybe not the healthiest thing but I’ll admit that I am addicted. My favourite is the Almond Joy flavour. It is really, really good. My second favourite is Coldstone Creamery flavour. Yum!
- Oreos – Few things epitomize the difference between the US and Canada than Oreos. In Canada, we get regular oreos, double stuff and maybe golden. That’s it. In the US you get Hot Cocoa Oreos, Mystery Oreos, Red Velvet Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos, Peanut Butter & Jelly Oreos, Jelly Donut Oreos, Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreos, and more. Crazy!
- Candied Jalapenos – I learned to love these living in Austin. They are amazing on crackers with cream cheese or on your ham sandwich. Really…I think you could eat them on anything.
- Anything from Trader Joe’s or Target. Let’s face it. We love stores we don’t have. I suggest peanut butter stuffed pretzels from Trader Joe’s. Yum!
- Rudy’s BBQ Sauce – We love this peppery bbq sauce that we fell in love with in Austin, TX.
- Spices – Take a turn around the spice aisle. You’ll find all kinds of spices and spice blends not available at your local store. My friend Shan reccomends the Lawry’s Garlic Salt.
And food isn’t the only thing people bring back. Many suggested I have a look at yarn, fabric, clothing and shoes. Let’s face it, the options and varieties are better for almost everything. In short, if you are a shopper and want to try new things. Make sure you bring extra bags when you visit the US and save at least one of them for all the American foods you want to bring back!