National Treasure #31: Nanaimo Bars

“. . . a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America.” – Wikipedia

Close-up of layers of Nanaimo bar

Ahem. I have travelled far and wide in the USofA and never yet seen a Nanaimo bar in that otherwise great country. As the Wikipedia editors say, “additional citations are needed.” As evidence that this dessert is not yet known south of our border, I offer the fact that MS Word treats “Nanaimo” as a spelling error.

Anyway, the Nanaimo bar is Canadian. Whether it’s a treasure depends on your tolerance for sweetness. I myself now find that smaller portions suffice, and would be happy to dispense with the custard powder layer.

When I started poking around online (“researching” being altogether too high-falutin’ a word for what I do), I found a City of Nanaimo site dedicated to the bar, an eponymous trail, and a canonical recipe.


This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.


This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Through Canada and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to National Treasure #31: Nanaimo Bars

  1. I think I may have had one once but couldn’t figure out how to eat one without the custard herniating out its sides. Never saw one again. Are they a West coast thing? I suspect they don’t travel well, unlike a Mars Bar.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – No, they do not travel well, and yes, the custardy layer squishes out, unless they’re kept in the fridge until just before eating. That reduces their flavour, of course. The solution – for the sweetness and the squishiness – is to eat a piece about a centimetre square. Not that that happens very often.

  2. Jim Robertson says:

    A delicious choice ! Yes their richness/sweetness can affect my delicate innards, but I give into them every time. (but these days maybe only one, not multiples (un)fortunately )

    Now maybe Honey crueller timbits are a distant second?

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    When our kids were younger, Joan would make up Nanaimo bars in an 8″ square pan. Then I measured the halfway point on each side precisely, and we divided the goodies into four exact quarters. We planted toothpick flags on each quarter, and woe betide anyone who swiped pieces from someone else’s quarter!
    As a second thought, there is no such thing as a good commercial Nanaimo bar. Commercial bakers always try to skimp on the custard powder. Good Nanaimo bars come only from home baking recipes, with a little bit extra of all the good bits tossed in for love.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – That’s a great way to communicate portions and to prompt compliance. As for homemade being the standard: I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I don’t eat commercially baked pie – what’s the point?

Comments are closed.