Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nanaimo Bar Trail: Searching for Nanaimo Bars on Vancouver Island

The first and only time I went searching for Nanaimo Bars in Nanaimo, BC was in 2007 while visiting Vancouver Island. For those of you who don't know what a Nanaimo Bar is, the origins are somewhat of a mystery. But legend traces its roots to Nanaimo's coal mining days, when miners carried the sweet treats in their lunch pails. Another version is that Dutch settlers brought the rich bar to Nanaimo in the early 1900's. And then there's the story about the Nanaimo homemaker who won a recipe contest in a national magazine for her chocolate-custard-graham-wafer squares. Whatever the explanation, it's so popular that the city has a recipe for the legendary Nanaimo Bars on its website.

Nanaimo Bars weren't all that plentiful four years ago. I finally found them at Port Place Shopping Centre, lying in state in a glass case, and only 99 cents each. Well, the city has since sweetened the pot, and now you can find Nanaimo Bars everywhere. They're even part of a self-guided tour called the Nanaimo Bar Trail. It's a downloadable map you can print out and take with you on your sweet quest for more than two dozen versions -- ranging from the traditional bars to cocktails and spa services. 

Photos in Nanaimo, BC by Sue Frause


Anonymous said...

When you say that Nanaimo bars weren't that plentiful four years ago, do you mean in the U.S.? Here in Canada they have been quite plentiful. My partner who grew up in a very isolated small town in northern Ontario said they sold them in their bakery. I've been buying them in bakeries and coffee shops all my adult life and they have been in almost every bake sale I've attended. Also extremely popular at Christmas, at least two varieties show up at office parties. Memories of my mother making them when I was a child in the early 1960's as well. Too plentiful some would say :)

Eat Play Sleep said...

No, not in the US, when I was in Nanaimo they were hard to find. But it may have been 5-6 years ago.Just glad they're putting the sweet namesake bar in the spotlight where it belongs ... the trail is a great idea! A lot of my US friends with Canadian roots have recipes for the bars ... I'm definitely making them for the holidays this year! Thanks for sharing your memories.

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