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11 Canadian Chocolate Bars and Their Steps Towards Sustainability

2022-09-23   ◆   5 minutes read
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When you see something every day, it becomes part of your landscape; something you get used to! How would you even know what makes Canadian chocolate bars Canadian without context? Today we’re showing appreciation for the chocolate bars that originated in Canada and using this opportunity to catch up with their plans to make the world a better place.

A pile of chocolate bars, including wunderbar, aero, caramilk, crispy crunch, mr. big, and bounty.
A selection of Canadian chocolate bars

Canadian Chocolate Bars

  1. Big Turk

If you’ve never tried a Big Turk, it’s truly a delight… or better yet, it’s a Turkish delight! It has a dark red Turkish delight centre and is covered with milk chocolate. Although Turkish delights have rose and orange blossom water as their main attraction, the centre of the Big Turk bars actually tastes more like cherry or grape. This bar is one of the most iconic Canadian chocolate bars. At certain moments of its life, it was only available there and it is still manufactured on Canadian soil.

A Big Turk cut in half to reveal gooey red innards.
The dark red inside of Big Turks (Candyrageous)

  1. Crunchie

This chocolate bar is another candy that is covered with milk chocolate. That classic crunchy texture inside is a sponge toffee which is also known as a honeycomb. Cadbury Canada (now owned by Mondelēz) invented this chocolate bar in the 1960s. It is still made locally in the Gladstone Chocolate Factory in Toronto, Ontario.

Crunchie
Crunchie has a crunchy and sweet interior (Buzzfeed)

  1. Cherry Blossom

One of Canada’s oldest chocolates is the Cherry Blossom. First manufactured in the United States in the 1890s, it continued its legacy in Canada and solidified its icon status. Its manufacturing process was eventually moved into Canada. And similarly to Big Turk, throughout much of its long life, it was only sold in Canada. Cherry Blossom is an individually wrapped chocolate treat. A maraschino cherry with cherry syrup is wrapped in chocolate with peanuts and coconut flakes.

The gooey center Cherry Blossom with a cherry.
Eating the sweet syrup is part of the fun! (McGill)

  1. Mr. Big

As its name suggests, Mr. Big is the largest chocolate bar that Cadbury produces. In fact, it’s the size of two standard chocolate bars – eight inches long! The chocolate outside is mixed with peanuts and rice crisps and hides delicious caramel and a vanilla wafer. Mr. Big is a classic Canadian chocolate bar, still manufactured in Canada. But it’s starting to show up in places like Hungary, Poland, and even the United States.

The crunchy and filling interior of Mr. Big.
The crunchy and filling Mr. Big (Cansumer)

Neilson Dairy introduced this chocolate bar in 1930. It was a Canadian company that started as an ice cream maker. The Crispy Crunch product idea was the result of an internal company contest to suggest new products. Harold Oswin won this contest and his original design suggested a log-shaped bar, but the company decided to turn it into a flat chocolate bar.

crispy crunch
Crispy Crunch and its flakey peanut butter (Chick Advisor)

  1. Aero

Aero was actually created by the Rowntree chocolate company in early 1935 as a response to Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Rowntree had decided to manufacture in Canada so they could open up in the North American market. The 150-year Rowntree-Cadbury rivalry even inspired the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Today, these bubbly chocolates are still made in Canada and have been a staple food in most  Canadians’ homes.

aero
Aero chocolate with bubbly texture

  1. Caramilk

This chocolate bar has two simple parts that make it the legend it is today: chocolate and caramel. And the secret of how Cadbury gets the caramel into their chocolate is a mystery that we may never concretely solve. The chocolate in these bars follows all the standards of having unsweetened chocolate and cocoa butter to be labeled “chocolate” in Canada. However, they are labeled as candy because of the caramel center. Caramilk chocolate bars are manufactured in Toronto, Ontario.

The melting caramel center of Caramilk.
A mouth-watering caramel is hidden inside this Caramilk bar

  1. Coffee Crisp

Dating back to the 1930s, Coffee Crisp is exactly how it sounds: coffee-flavoured crisps covered with milk chocolate. It was originally based on a British candy by the Rowntree company called “Wafer Crisp.” Once it moved into Canada, Rowntree made a coffee variant – and the rest is written in Canadian history!

Coffee wafers covered in chocolate in a coffee crisp.
Layers of wafer and coffee cream, covered with chocolate – Coffee Crisp bar

  1. Wunderbar

What if we told you that Wunderbar has two names? There’s the Canadian name – Wunderbar – and then the rest of the world calls them “Star Bars.” This chocolate bar is filled with caramel and roasted peanuts, and it’s a delicious and filling treat. Wunderbar is made in Canada.

Filling and smooth Wunderbar centre.
A combination of peanut butter covered with melting caramel, covered with chocolate

  1. Bounty

If you like coconut, Bounty is for you. This coconut-filled masterpiece comes in two pieces that are perfect for sharing. Bounty was first made in 1851 and based on the Hershey Mound bar, which was very similar. There have been other flavours of it since, including cherry or covered with milk or dark chocolate.

Fresh and yummy flakes of coconut in the two pieces of Bounty.
Bounty is a burst of coconut, covered with chocolate

  1. Jersey Milk

Similar to Dairy Milk, Jersey Milk gets straight to the chocolate and has a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth richness. The Canadian Neilson Dairy created this chocolate bar in 1924. It has since been acquired by Cadbury (which was acquired by Mondelēz). But the packaging of Jersey Milk is almost as iconic as the solid chocolate bar itself and still holds the Neilson name to this day.

Jersey milk
Old-fashioned, rich Jersey Milk bar

Making Chocolate Bars Sustainable

Although these chocolate bars are nostalgic in our hearts, it’s becoming clear that the attitudes of consumers are shifting. According to Forbes, “66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand.” And millennials are an even higher majority than that at 73%. Meaning big chocolate bar companies are taking notice and making changes in their attitudes towards the environment and the communities they’re employing.

 

Forbes isn’t the only company to notice these statistics. These sorts of trends have made way for a marketing term called “Green marketing” or “greenwashing.” This is when a company adopts promises and branding of being environmentally friendly and/or health conscious. Although there are companies that do make sincere efforts to reduce their negative impact, greenwashing has the implication that the company has ulterior motives. It’s important to hear companies out but also to keep this marketing technique in mind when they talk about their waste and social plans.

marine garbage
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (NOAA)

The Problem With Plastic

The quick and easy accessibility of big-name chocolate bars is part of what makes them so popular. Unfortunately, it’s also what makes them such a big contributor to plastic waste. It may seem like a small wrapper to throw away, but those wrappers add up. Polypropylene plastic has been very popular in the making of major chocolate bar wrappers. It’s no. 5 plastic and is rarely available in household recycling programs, so its waste will end up in landfill or as marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an example of plastics breaking down and accumulating to create huge environmental issues. We cover a bit of the effect of Canada’s plastic on the environment in our ice cream cones blog if you’re curious to learn more. With all of the chocolate bar waste, what exactly are companies doing to make the world a better place?

Plastic Plans

Most of the above Canadian chocolate bars are owned by one of two companies: Nestlé or Mondelēz International. These companies have been part of some pretty serious controversies in the past, and are currently making plans to improve their environmental and social impact.

 

Nestlé has an extensive section on its website dedicated to its re-branding. It covers a wide array of important topics. Nestlé even changed its slogan to “Good food, Good life” to emphasize its attempts to make amends. Most of their chocolate bar wrappers have been no. 5 plastic in the past, but it claims that a good majority of their packaging will be entirely recyclable or reusable by 2025. Plus, they have a goal to reduce packaging and be completely net zero by 2050. 

 

Mondelēz International has a similar re-branding strategy to Nestlé. It has the goal of having net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it has a section on its website addressing past controversies, and it has similar environmental goals. Their goals are a bit more impressive than Nestlé’s: they aim to have net zero waste by 2025 and to have a circular pack economy by 2050.


It’s difficult to speculate whether these are sincere attempts by Nestlé and Mondelēz International to do good, or if it’s simply bare minimum greenwashing. But you can make that decision yourself. Do we need to wait till 2050?

chocolate bar waste
Let’s make an effort to consume products with biodegradable packaging

How to Do Sustainability Right

Having recyclable or reusable packaging as a goal is a step in the right direction, but more action is required. When talking about sustainable packaging, it’s important to think about the entire scope of the product’s life cycle. The packaging needs to be recycled at the end of its life, but it also needs to be:

 

  • Safe for the consumer
  • Effective manufacturing process
  • Cost-efficient and 
  • Sourced responsibly 

 

This type of packaging is obviously better for the environment, but it’s also now becoming a necessity for a company’s success. People want sustainability. When it comes to packaging, it’s a piece of the company that falls onto the consumer for easy disposal and needs to be viable for most local recycling programs. Sustainable packaging means the final step of the product’s existence in the consumer’s experience is a pleasant and easy one.


Even once 100% of the packaging is recyclable, it is difficult (or impossible) to recycle food waste because of food residue. Some companies plan to make their packaging reusable, which may be a better alternative than just recyclable. However, because they’ve lumped the two together as one goal, it’s difficult to say just how much is reusable. A great option for food packaging is to have it be compostable. That way the food residue and food wrapper can compost together! Bio-based and biodegradable plastics are not fool-proof, though as they don’t bio-degrade by themselves if they end up in the ocean. But these are baby steps that make packaging better for the environment.

 

Every day there are more chocolatiers coming out of Canada, trying to make delicious and beautiful chocolate and a difference in the world. You can find Canadian chocolate bars near you with Dessert Advisor. Look for ones that are fair trade, made locally, and have recyclable packaging. Enjoy your chocolate!

About the author

DessertAdvisor.com is an organization dedicated to the research of desserts, baked goods, and snacks. The community maintains one of the largest databases of dessert items and dessert places in Canada. 

With a mission to facilitate foodies’ search for their desired products, the site allows finding locations that dessert items are sold at, enhances knowledge on various treats (i.e., variety, flavours, health benefits, history, origins, etc.), and enables people to enjoy the wealth of life.

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