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Kinder Eggs and Codeine Cough Syrup: Contraband across the Canadian border
August 27, 2012 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking my boyfriend to Canada for the weekend. We're looking for small items that you would find in Canada but not in the USA. Any suggestions?

Right-o. We're going to Ontario this weekend. My boyfriend's never been to Canada. I'm interested in stuff that you would NOT find in the USA, but WOULD be able to buy in Canada.

For example: really strong cough syrup over the counter, Kinder Eggs (to enjoy in Canada, as they are contraband in the USA), Coffee Crisp. I have also heard rumors of several non-caramel kinds of Twix, but have not been able to verify.

Thanks, folks! We promise not to stuff the trunk full of Coffee Crisp and try to cross the border. We will consume all consumables in Canada, and declare all declarables to the border guards.
posted by Elly Vortex to Travel & Transportation around Canada (75 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can buy tylenol with codeine over the counter. Proper cold medicine. Caramilk.

Don't try to smuggle in Kinder Eggs, though.
posted by jeather at 3:11 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You should try "all-dressed" flavored potato chips. It's sort of like onion+pepper+vinegar. Also ketchup flavored chips, though those have started appearing south of the border.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:12 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pink grapefruit Mentos
posted by phunniemee at 3:12 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Poutine Poutine Poutine Poutine.

Yes, theoretically it is possible to obtain poutine in the US, but it's just not the same. And definitely, if you guys are in a part of the US without easy access to cheese curds, really really poutine.

Consider bringing home cheese curds and gravy mix (not sure if the gravy mix is OK through customs, though?) for at home poutine.
posted by Sara C. at 3:12 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


You mentioned Twix: we have peanut butter Twix here. They're not actually that good, IMO, but they are different.

As already mentioned, there are various flavours of potato chips that are apparently unique to Canada.

Can you share what province(s) you're going to? That will affect the answer some what, since some of these things are regional (like Pineapple Crush, which is only available in Newfoundland (officially, at least)).
posted by asnider at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Old Dutch Potato Chips are the official potato chips of Canada, and have their own coat of arms, granted by the Court of King James.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:16 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Err...you already said Ontario. Apparently I can't read today.

Bagged milk. This is just normal milk, but it comes in bags! Novelty factor!

If you drink, you should order a Caesar. It's the unofficial national cocktail and it is delicious.
posted by asnider at 3:17 PM on August 27, 2012


We will be in Ontario. We're going to Thunder Bay, Fort Francis, and the wilderness in-between.

Kinder Eggs will be consumed on Canadian soil, paid for in cash and we will burn the receipts and wrappers so NOBODY WILL EVER KNOW. :-)


Pink Grapefruit Mentoes? *mind boggles*
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:18 PM on August 27, 2012


Oh! Smarties are apparently not available in the US.
posted by asnider at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2012


Smarties are sort of like M&Ms, with more colours. What you call Smarties we call Rockets.
posted by jeather at 3:20 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Smarties? Apparently in Canada they are NOT chalky-but-delicious fruit-flavored chemical disks but something more like M&Ms?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:21 PM on August 27, 2012


Smarties (different candy from US "Smarties"), Aero bars...

Things that are Rx-only, or were in the late 90s, in the US that are OTC in Canada: Polysporin antibiotic eye/ear drops. Lac-Hydrin 12% lotion, Tylenol #1 (same quantity of codeine is available in generic form, also with Aspirin instead of Tylenol; you have to ask the pharmacist for it, sold in bottles of I think 30, 100, and 200), methocarbamol-based muscle relaxant pills like "Robaxacet"

There are all sorts of Kinder-imitators now, and you can get various chocolate eggs with toys; Disney themes and NHL themes are common

I'm sure the poutine sauce ("gravy mix"!) is importable. You can get packets of dried mix or tins of ready-made. Curds will survive out of the fridge on the trip home just fine, but make sure you're buying fresh (not previously refrigerated, should squeak in your mouth -- look for a selection at the cash register, not the old stuff in the fridge, know your cheesemonger)

Nanaimo bar mix (sometimes hard to find, also pricy for a box baking mix, totally worth it)

canadianfavorites.com should have some ideas. If you are in an area that has the "Joe Fresh Style" line at Loblaws (Real Canadian Superstore, etc etc), it is worth a peek -- lots of disposable junk, yes, but the odd excellent staple or interesting cosmetic item.

You don't have Fruit-tella, do you? Hit a "Bulk Barn"...

(Surely "proper cold medicine" means "Neo Citran," the unofficial national tea)
posted by kmennie at 3:21 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just roll into a convenience store and wander around. Plenty of little differences. An "EAT MORE" bar (candybar). Smarties (similar to M+Ms, unlike American Smarties). BIG TURK candybar.

Yeah, milk in bags; you would normally get a little plastic pitcher that's sized for one bag at a time, then you can buy a bunch of bags and freeze all but one. Not sure if your trip will allow you to enjoy this, but it's a very civilized system.

Dollar coins (loonies) and two dollar coins (toonies).
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:21 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ketchup chips!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:22 PM on August 27, 2012


Beaver Tails.
Mr. Big candy bars
posted by hmo at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you like the flavour of Kinder Egg chocolate, there are also Kinder Bueno bars available.
posted by Harpocrates at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2012


I don't think you will have any trouble importing cheezies into the USA
posted by canoehead at 3:24 PM on August 27, 2012


You could go to a Canadian Tire (similar to Sears in the US, sells more than tires) and get some Canadian Tire money.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


While loading up on Canadian chocolate bars, also try a Crunchie.
posted by zadcat at 3:33 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Laura Secord chocolates! They're a chain of candy shops found in Canadian malls, and they're named for a heroine of the War of 1812.
posted by peppermind at 3:39 PM on August 27, 2012


Ceramic Tim Horton travel coffee mugs!
posted by theredpen at 3:41 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you drink? Then the only thing you should look for is Sortilege. Maple and whiskey liqueur. MAPLE AND WHISKEY, I TELL YOU. It tastes like the tears of an overjoyed unicorn. It is to my everlasting shame that I didn't bring any home after my last trip.
posted by amelioration at 3:41 PM on August 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Laura Secord produces the most sugary chocolates known to man, but some people like them.

Maple syrup's technically available in the U.S., come to think of it, but Canadian syrup's better. Of course the OP isn't coming to Quebec where the very best syrup in the world is readily available...
posted by zadcat at 3:41 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


actually, someone mentioned neo-citron above - it's formula has been changed (seriously some people will brew meth out of anything) so that it's not that effective anymore. The shoppers drug mart version does have the original ingredients, though, and is great if you're suffering from colds, flu or hayfever.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:44 PM on August 27, 2012


Coffee Crisp is a candy bar that leaks across the border here and there, but if you haven't seen it or tried it do so,

(we have Old Dutch chips in Northern MN and WI, not sure how far south they travel, but defiantly not a Canadian exclusive thing.

Look for soda with out HFC, I don't know how pervasive/or not it has become
posted by edgeways at 3:47 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cadbury chocolates in Canada are vastly superior to the ones in America, since the one here is made by Hershey.

The one in Canada (and the rest of the world) is pure UK special recipe chocolate. It is not available in the USA.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about a Canadian hundred dollar bill. It's polymer and it smells like maple syrup. Really.

I can't believe Smarties aren't available in the USA. So sad.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:57 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Liquor-filled chocolates are prohibited in the US. They are very tasty. Also, see if you can bring back some universal health care, and some politeness is always nice to have.
posted by theora55 at 3:58 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sortilege is great. The Glenora single-malt whisky is very good. Ketchup potato chips and "all dressed" are interesting. I love Coffee Crisp, too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:58 PM on August 27, 2012


I can't believe Smarties aren't available in the USA.

They are available as imports in a lot of places in the US, as are imported UK Cadbury confections. Here in the Boston area, you can buy lots of UK and Irish foods at the local Star/Shaw's markets. Same in New York. I imagine maybe it's harder to find this stuff in Alabama or somewhere else farther from the Canadian border/with fewer UK and Irish expats.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2012


Doesn't Canada sell some sort of magic chemical that you can drop into the toilet bowl post-flush that just completely destroys any leftover odor? That might be really useful to have.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:02 PM on August 27, 2012


You can buy Sortilege in Chicago--dunno about the rest of the US. But totally. Buy some.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2012


Liquor-filled chocolates are prohibited in the US.

They're not, actually; it's just that you can't sell them in the US if you don't have a liquor license. Lots of liquor stores sell them now, as well as specialty food shops that have liquor licenses. If any US MeFites are jonesing for liquor chocolates and can't get them locally, MeMail me and I'll get you some at Cardullo's, although apparently you can get them through Amazon.com.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:05 PM on August 27, 2012


I am a US-ian living near Toronto. I've been here three years.

Kraft peanut butter!! This and this and this over again! Forget Skippy, forget Jif and all that crap in the US. Kraft makes excellent peanut butter.

Candy-cookies -
Canadian Oreos are NOTHING like US ones. They suck.
Poutine - yes yes yes.
Smarties - not like M&Ms. Weird, thicker shell.
Lindt chocolate here tastes like heaven. In the US, it tastes like wax.
Kinder Eggs yes!
Crunchie candy bars! Well, just go into any convenience store and take a look - there is a lot here you won't find in the US.
Tim Tams - here they are Arnott's, and they are good, in the US they're often made by Pepperidge Farms and taste like crap.

Medicines -
Muscle relaxants you can buy over the counter here are amazing - they actually work!

Potato chips -
Fries and gravy flavor.
Ketchup flavor - which is actually available on the east coast of the US, but not where I'm from, so those were a novelty. Same with Dill Pickle potato chips.
Other bizarre flavors - "Hot Wings" and "General Tso Chicken" flavored chips. Really.

Other notes -
Hot dogs here taste nothing like the US ones. I assume its a lack of preservatives and cancer causing agents. Canadian food, in general, seems to follow much stricter health and nutrition guidelines (see Oreos above).
That said...The beef/chicken just...tastes better here to me. I thought it was just me, but I've talked to other people who said that yes - Canadian meat tastes better, is healthier, etc. No idea if it's factual, just anecdotal.
Milk in bags - so weird. I'm used to it now, but when people visit, they're like, what?

PS. We have peanut butter Twix in the US.
posted by routergirl at 4:20 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(on non-preview: Um, I didnt mean to group poutine in with candy-cookies. It is not. You should try as much poutine as possible without actually dying of a heart attack. You'll find that it's very simple to make when you get home - but you need to taste it all first to decide what you like...right?)
posted by routergirl at 4:23 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and at the risk of being crucified, steer clear of Tim Horton's unless you want donuts that all taste too sweet (seriously, here Canada has lifted the nutrition guidelines apparently? Give me Krispy Kremes over those crappy things any day) and coffee that tastes of nothing at all.

Although, I guess there is always the tourist aspect to it - "Hey look, we went to Tim Horton's!" Neither my husband nor I get the massive love and adoration for Tim Horton's, and we've given it several goes. My oldest son liked Tim's, but then again, he'd also sit down and eat a loaf of plain white bread without complaining. I think that says it all.
posted by routergirl at 4:29 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh Thunder Bay! You definitely have to try persians (basically a pastry with oodles of strawberry frosting on top) when you are in Thunder Bay. The best ones come from a place called the Persian Man. So yummy and they travel quite well!
posted by snowysoul at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, and a lot of Americans don't "get" Krispy Kreme donuts either (also too sweet).

You can buy tylenol with codeine over the counter.

And aspirin, as well. But you must ask for it; they keep it behind the counter.
posted by Rash at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was on the Upper West Side of Manhattan today and passed a Tim Horton's. So, yeah, not only are they meh, but they're also in (some) US markets.

They're apparently owned by the same company as Cold Stone Creamery, so they tend to get packaged in to make the store profitable outside of ice cream season, a la the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins idea.
posted by Sara C. at 4:44 PM on August 27, 2012


Maybe it says something about my group of friends, but Cuban cigars always seemed to trickle back across the border when one of us took a trip to the great white north was over... I still preferred Kinder eggs, myself.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:47 PM on August 27, 2012


That said...The beef/chicken just...tastes better here to me. I thought it was just me, but I've talked to other people who said that yes - Canadian meat tastes better, is healthier, etc. No idea if it's factual, just anecdotal.

Seconding this except with dairy. Cheese and milk is so much better here than in the US.
posted by junco at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2012


If either of you are fans of cigars, Canada does not have an embargo on Cuba, and can import the real thing.
posted by toxic at 4:53 PM on August 27, 2012


Also "Dad's"-brand cookies and Red Rose tea.
posted by junco at 4:53 PM on August 27, 2012


If either of you are into a bit of occasional handywork, pick up an assortment of Robertson screws and driver bits. The best screw you can get.
posted by islander at 4:57 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Agree that Ontarian basic cheddar is not as good as northeast US basic cheddar.

Canada has some great beers - two that I have a hard time finding where I live are Blanche De Chambly, and St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:13 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nanaimo bars? I don't think they tend to be popular in the US. But they should be as they are delicious.
posted by jeather at 5:25 PM on August 27, 2012


Salmiakki and korppu are much more common in the Lakehead than elsewhere in Ontario, as is taking good sauna. If you like gouda, try it at Thunder Oak Cheese Farm. Potato chips pretty much everywhere in Ontario have some decent flavours, as mentioned above.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:34 PM on August 27, 2012


Canadian here. Of all things mentioned thus far, I give a strong second to Coffee Crisp - a truly great chocolate bar. Also - if you run across Laura Secord vanilla pudding, go for it, although I'm not sure if they make it anymore.
posted by davebush at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2012


My family and I find that Canadian brown sugar, or at least the Red Path brand, is a lot tastier than American brown sugar. Everyone thinks I'm crazy when I tell them this, but then they try it and see that it's true.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 5:49 PM on August 27, 2012


I'm Canadian and have lived in the US for the last four years. When I go home, I always make a point of getting:

All-dressed chips
Cherry blasters
Tim Horton's coffee (a double-double would be the most authentic)
Rickard's White
posted by ewiar at 5:56 PM on August 27, 2012


Since we're talking about Canadian beer, Mill Street Brewing is an Ontario-based brewery that makes some damn fine beer. I am particularly fond of their Tankhouse Ale and Coffee Stout. Avoid the Organic Lager; it's practically flavourless.
posted by asnider at 6:01 PM on August 27, 2012


If you really like salt (I do, and I considered this a bit too much), pickled cheese curd.

And seconding others on beer. Canada has some damned fine beers.

For everything else, pretty much just pick anything illegal for "stupid" reasons in the US, and you can get it in Canada. Keep in mind that Customs won't care about the legality in Canada if you try to bring it back into the US, so you'd better stick to small things, or things you can consume while there.
posted by pla at 6:07 PM on August 27, 2012


Shreddies!
posted by dripdripdrop at 6:14 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband particularly enjoys asking for an imported beer with lunch, and then being offered a Miller or Pabst or maybe even a Bud Light. He always chooses Coors if possible (NEVER at home) -- says it just tastes better imported. A simple pleasure, but reliable.
posted by kestralwing at 6:16 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does the U.S. still ban clove cigarettes? And cherry cigarillos?
posted by RobotHero at 6:36 PM on August 27, 2012


omg COFFEE CRISP!!!!!
posted by punkrockrat at 6:43 PM on August 27, 2012


No.

Well, I've seen other "flavored" cigarillos, but never cherry. But it seems weird that cherry would be specifically outlawed.
posted by Sara C. at 6:43 PM on August 27, 2012


Does the U.S. still ban clove cigarettes?

Yeah... That one counted as a particular peeve of mine, because as a non-smoker, I did enjoy the occasional clove.


/ Sampoerna menthol FTW.
// One pack would last me... Well, over a year, but they'd go stale long before I got anywhere near half-way through the pack.
/// Stupid "for the kids" laws!

posted by pla at 7:16 PM on August 27, 2012


Ice Wine!
posted by islander at 7:16 PM on August 27, 2012


Butter Tarts!
posted by islander at 7:31 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


President's Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip cookies...or an number of PC products available only at Real Canadian Superstore and other Loblaw banners.
posted by dismitree at 8:46 PM on August 27, 2012


Hawkins Cheezies. These are way better than those flimsy puffy things called Cheet-Os.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:10 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chocolate covered digestive cookies. They are delicious but I cannot find them anywhere in the States.
posted by cyml at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2012


You had me at Coffee Crisp. ;-) If you can find a copy of anything by the band The Lowest of the Low, but especially the album "Shakespeare My Butt" (I know, horrible name), I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's one of those albums I play for someone once and they come back to me, begging for more.

And yes, Neo-Citron and Crunchies.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:53 PM on August 27, 2012


Five Alive in single serving sizes. While Five Alive is sold in the US, I've only seen it in the large container here.

Also, they have some really good gum flavors that are not available in the US. If you can find Citrus Trident, snap it up!
posted by SisterHavana at 10:39 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just came to say that AC&C is the BEST headache medicine ever. Aspirin, Caffiene and Codeine.

When we drove from Toronto back to Atlanta in February, we were stopped at the Ambassador bridge and had to unpack the whole damn car because of our Georgia plates.

Border Guy: Is that an Ontario plate?
Me: No, Georgia
Border Guy: Step out of the car please.

Good thing I forget to stop for AC&C, because I hate to think what might have happened. He went through my "pill bag" with a fine tooth comb.

Border Guy: What's with all these pills?
Me: Well, I'm old and I like vitamins.
Border Guy: You're not that old
Me: I feel that old.
Border Guy: This really is vitamins.
Me: Yup.

Also, Coke made with cane sugar. Cuban cigars.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:05 AM on August 28, 2012


Crispers! A chip/cracker hybrid covered with tasty flavouring (including All Dressed, as recommended many times above). As far as I know, they're only available in Canada...
posted by lumiere at 7:41 AM on August 28, 2012


My husband particularly enjoys asking for an imported beer with lunch, and then being offered a Miller or Pabst or maybe even a Bud Light. He always chooses Coors if possible (NEVER at home) -- says it just tastes better imported. A simple pleasure, but reliable.

A bit of a derail, but I've never seen any of those beers referred to as imports in Canada. They're all considered domestic beers, even though they're brewed in the States. I'm more likely to see certain domestic beers being called "Premium" and sold at a higher price than I am to see MGD or Bud Light being called imports. YMMV, though.
posted by asnider at 8:35 AM on August 28, 2012


Cadbury's chocolates of any sort. The US ones do not match up to what the rest of the world get. My personal favourite is a Cadburys Caramello.

Kinder Egg chocolate is not that great IMO, but the toys are awesome buy a bunch of these and keep the toys as a fun souvenir of your trip, then again are the toys illegal or just the whole egg?
posted by wwax at 8:45 AM on August 28, 2012


asnider: It certainly happens to us, in the small towns across the border that are sort of slurbs of Vancouver (we come up from Bellingham). I wonder if this is a habit that's just local to our corner. I suspect there's a lot of geographic diversity; for instance, there's a lot of ice wine in Washington state, but probably not in the eastern U.S.

Also nthing aspirin with codeine. It's so useful sometimes, and it's dirt cheap in Canada. You're only allowed 50 tablets per person though so buy the small bottle. But they are legal to bring into the U.S. As a very irritated Border Patrol explained to us: Sure, it's legal to bring them in. But it's NOT legal to have them in the U.S. without a prescription, so as soon as you drive away you're committing a Class C Felony. I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble for having them, but I have seen Border guys flush all but 50 tablets.
posted by kestralwing at 1:22 PM on August 28, 2012


Ice wines tend to be available in parts of the US with climate conditions similar to Canada. It's pretty easy to get here in New York, for instance.

That said,

A) It's pretty rare outside of very specific places that produce it,

and

B) It's wine, so even if one can get wines in the category of Ice Wine in the states, Canadian ones will have their own terroir, might use specific local grapes or techniques, and all the other things that make it worthwhile to drink French wines if you live in California, New Zealand wines if you live in Portugal, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 1:33 PM on August 28, 2012


Havana Club Rum which once you leave America you soon discover this is the brand of rum sold everywhere.
posted by wcfields at 1:57 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pseudophedrine (optionally with ibuprofen or whatever additive you prefer), off the shelf and in bottles so you don't have struggle with #$%# blister packages when you already feel terrible.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:07 PM on August 28, 2012


Also, Coke made with cane sugar.

Canadian Coke has HFC in it, not cane sugar. Some of our shops carry Mexican Coke but you can get that in the USA easier.

Our Rose's Lime Cordial has Cane Sugar and NOT HFC, though.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:11 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd tell you to buy a couple pounds of Gay Lea butter (yeah, just regular butter) but I'm sure the security people would just confiscate it. Enjoy some while you are here, though, if that makes any sense.

Butter up here is one of the things that is just tremendously improved over the stateside version. I don't know the reasons but it is like the veil removed from the flavour of US butter. Sort of like the way Cote d'Or is the flavour of chocolate, like Lindt with the veil of removed.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:39 AM on August 29, 2012


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