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New York Times Nanaimo Bar Recipe Dragged By Canadians

Mel Woods
·Associate Editor, HuffPost Canada
·3 min read

A custard-fuelled controversy is brewing on Canada’s West Coast and one of the largest newspapers in the United States is to blame.

The New York Times Cooking Instagram account shared a recipe and accompanying image for classic Canadian Nanaimo bars this week. But as many Canadians were quick to point out, something wasn’t quite right with the bars pictured.

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“What da f**k have u done to it,” one user wrote.

The glaring issue with the NYT bars is the truly egregious ratio of crumb to buttercream to chocolate in the image. Dozens of Canadians commenters agreed, calling out the recipe for getting one of the dessert’s most basic things wrong.

“The near absence of a buttercream layer is most un-Canadian indeed,” wrote another.

While others pointed out that it adds to the Times’ already questionable coverage of the great white north.

“Another one in the ongoing NYT series: We didn’t speak to any Canadians but here’s a story about Canada,” another commenter wrote.

While this may not be as bad as the Times’ declaring we’re experiencing “Kamala Mania” or celebrating cannabis legalization with “C-Day,” my partner, who grew up in the central Vancouver Island city for which the bar is named, described the image in one simple word: “haunting.”

Nanaimo bars are a big deal in B.C. and Canada as a whole. The City of Nanaimo’s website has an entire page dedicated to the sweet treat.

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“This creamy, chocolatey treat’s origin is elusive, shrouded in mystery, and claimed by many as their own. Of course, we know that Nanaimo Bars originated in Nanaimo, or they would be called New York Bars, or New Brunswick Bars,” reads the intro, followed by an official recipe.

They’re composed of three components: a coconut/nut crumble layer, a buttercream frosting with custard powder and a thin layer of chocolate on top. You would think that’s not that hard to get right.

Yet even Canada Post messed it up. In 2019, the service released a series of stamps inspired by Canadian desserts, including the Nanaimo bar. But the image pictured was heavy on the custard, light on everything else, and people took offense.

The mayor of Nanaimo even called out Canada Post for not consulting with his city’s residents, obviously the foremost experts on the bar.

WATCH: Canada Post unveils dessert stamps. Story continues below.

This is also not the first time an American outlet has gone after the beloved west coast treat.

Last September, BuzzFeed’s Canadian Twitter account shared a video to social media featuring recipes for variations on the beloved treat, except they called them “Canadian chocolate bars.”

A Coffee Crisp is a Canadian chocolate bar. A Nanaimo bar is not.

Even B.C. Premier John Horgan was quick to call them out.

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BuzzFeed Canada quickly apologized for the Nanaimo bar slander.

“Our friends in LA made this video and named it Canadian Chocolate Bars. I’m sorry to all the Canadians we’ve offended with this video. It was never our intention. - Sincerely, a real Canadian,” BuzzFeed Canada wrote.

It’s not even the first time the Times has come under fire for its Nanaimo bar coverage. A 2019 piece garnered similar questions from B.C. residents.

We never got an apology for that situation, but New York Times food editor Sara Bonisteel told the CBC an “offset spatula situation” was to blame for the recent bar ratio issues in the NYT Cooking Instagram post.

Ultimately though, it does come down to preference. Some people like a little custard, some people like a lot. One thing we can all agree on is that the Nanaimo bar is truly a Canadian icon.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.