Today we’re exploring the top desserts in Canada and the significant role they played during the COVID-19 lockdown. We look at the science behind sweet cravings and see how we’re actually programmed to reach for our favourite dessert during stressful times. We’ll consider how the top desserts differ between each Canadian province and also compare these top desserts to some of our global friends. In short, we’re crunching the numbers to justify you having another bite, slice, or scoop of your favourite dessert.
First things first, we can all agree 2020 has been a stressful year, mainly due to the pandemic. We aren’t about to get into the nitty gritty details. We’re better off leaving that to the experts! Instead, we’ll stick to the role of desserts. You don’t need to be a scientist to know the comforting influence of desserts, but it does help.
Brain researcher and diabetologist, Achim Peters, knows a little something about the physiological impact of sugary foods on a system under stress. Last year, he wrote an article for the Scientific American entitled, Why Do We Crave Sweets When We’re Stressed?, explaining our desire for chocolate and other carbs during tough times. In the article, Peters basically states the fact that, “Under acute stress the brain requires some 12 percent more energy,” and what’s the quickest source of this energy? Carbohydrates, like glucose.
If this type of research can give us an idea of the impact desserts have on us during times of stress, what happens when we’re faced with health and safety restrictions that prevent us from accessing our favourite desserts? We’re glad you asked.
Let’s first consider the top desserts in Canada according to past average Google monthly searches. Based on about 300 common dessert types, we’ve compiled the following list:
While some of the results such as chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, and butter tarts are really nom nom no-brainers when considering the demographics of Canada, we’d be lying if we didn’t say we were surprised by the top ten list of the less known (but no less delicious) mochi, a colourful and glutinous rice cake hailing from Japan. We wanted to know which provinces were responsible for the addition of mochi and, more specifically, we wanted to see who were the most traditional and adventurous when it came to dessert preferences. We share this Candadian province information in another post “Top Desserts by Canadian Provinces/Territories”.
But how does our Canadian top ten compare to the US top ten? Crunching the numbers, we see our neighbours to the south prefer the following desserts, in this order:
Note the new additions; for example, America’s number one dessert search of apple pie, which was actually ranked #12 for Canada! They swapped butter tarts for donuts and New York cheesecake, but there were lots of overlapping desserts. Canada’s mochi almost made the US top ten, sitting in place #11 of most searched desserts.
The UK’s top ten was a whole different kettle of fish. In order, their favourite desserts include:
The only overlap with fellow Commonwealth Candians was dark chocolate! If you’re curious to see where mochi ranked, it was at #14th place!
Did mochi make the cut in Australia, though? Let’s see the top ten trending dessert searches:
We don’t blame them for having almost half of their desserts as frozen ones – it’s summer 11 months of the year there!. Sadly, mochi didn’t make an appearance Down Under.
When COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, we, sweet-toothed Canadians, had to adapt by putting on our problem-solving caps and turning in house to find solutions, aka baking at home as a first step to alleviating some of the uncertainty. Looking more closely, in relation to the imposed quarantining restrictions, Dessert Advisor identified some significant spikes for the March-April period of 2020 in relation to some of the abovementioned top desserts in Canada. Figures based on Google Trends going back five years also showed a sudden increase for most dessert categories including chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, pudding, pancakes, and muffins.
The most curious piece of the Canadian dessert puzzle relates to dark chocolate. Normally peaking every December and understandably dropping off with New Years’ resolutions each January, the lockdown search data did not show such a change (relative to past search patterns) in dark chocolate searches during the March-April 2020 period. We’ll leave it up to you to ponder the comforting capabilities of dark chocolate in your own time, but one thing we can agree upon is the important role dessert has to play as a stress reliever in the face of upheaval like the one we’re currently experiencing.
Canadian business figures continue to change with regard to COVID-19 business closures and new business openings, but Dessert Advisor can speak for roughly 5% of the business owners we’ve been in touch with and regrettably had to remove from our dessert repository as a result of quarantine-related closures. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but our goal remains the same: bridging the gap between foodies, like you, and dessert and baking places in your vicinity, as we attempt to take you away from your worries by exploring the variety of desserts out there waiting to distract you from our “new normal” lives.
Maybe your favourite dessert has made the top desserts in Canada list, maybe it hasn’t. One thing for sure is that Dessert Advisor continues to add specific items to our compendium every week. In doing so, we deliver more than just a list of local bakeries near you, we offer to help you find the specific dessert you crave. Go ahead and search for your favourite dessert, you deserve it!