The great Canadian snack menu

January 22, 2024

You’re a backpacker who lives off of chips, crackers and candy. We know your kind. In fact, we are your people. When travels get underway, on-the-go snacks are the unsung heroes that really fuel the adventures.

Whether you’re on a long layover avoiding pricey airport meals or road-tripping across Canada and popping into roadside service stations, it’s all about the light bites and budget-friendly eats. The offerings in each country or region will be completely different from the next. The real budget backpacker will know their way around the local snack menu—and become acquainted rather quickly.

So what are the best sweet ‘n salty munchies available for those wandering around Canada? To all you hungry hikers and broke backpackers, look no further. Here, we have you covered with The Great Canadian Snack Menu. You won’t find the classic poutine on this list, nor do we have recommendations for bites to pair with your VQA wine or wild Atlantic salmon. These are the guilty-pleasure, cheap, crunchy eats that’ll tide you over until you land or check into your hostel. Or, if your budget is peanuts and dinner is therefore… peanuts, then consider these your entrées.

1. Ketchup chips

Ketchup chips are the holy grail of Canadian snacks. Unlike many corner shop finds, you won’t find these in the U.S. Many folks might be a little put off at the notion of ketchup-flavoured chips but don’t knock it ‘til you try it! If the concept seems… weird, go in with an open mind. Ketchup chips are salty, zesty, and just the right amount of sweet all in one. If anything, scarf them down for the Canadians abroad who can’t.

Ketchup chips

2. Timbits

If you’re in any way familiar with Canada, you know about Tim Horton’s (or Timmies if you want to sound like a true Canuck). Arguably one of the most important items on the menu at Timmies is the good old timbit. These ball-shaped donuts are an OG Timmies treat and come in all the classic flavours from chocolate to cinnamon to glazed. Order them in a snack-pack size or, if you’ve got hours on the road and multiple travel buddies, just get the family-sized pack.

3. Cheese curds

Everyone knows about the good old Canadian poutine. (Unless you’re living under a rock!) While the gravy-smothered bite is more of a meal or late-night treat, the star of the show makes for a great snack. Cheese curds are the small, fresh chunks of curdled milk that result from the cheese-making process. They are the earliest form of cheese before it is pressed into a solid block or aged. Cheese curds have a mild flavour and a slightly rubbery texture and are simply addictive.


4. Smarties

Can’t decide between candy or chocolate? Have both. Smarties are the ultimate Canadian treat as the candy-covered chocolate morsels are mess-free, yummy and an easy on-the-go travel snack.

5. BeaverTails

A true Canadian will totally own all the country’s goofy stereotypes. As should the visitor exploring our northern country for a little while. BeaverTails are a snack that might take a different name or similar format in various countries all over the world. They’re really just a simple pastry with cinnamon and sugar (or other fun toppings!). You’ll find them in top tourist destinations that really love to push those Canadiana vibes. When in Canada, you gotta partake!

Beaver Tails

6. All-dressed chips

This is another iconic Canadian snack and one for the traveller who just can never make up their mind. When you can’t pick a flavour, choose ALL of them! All-dressed chips are easily one of the best Canadian chip flavours that you can find in any grocery store, airport shop or gas station. These heavenly bites contain a blend of ingredients like salt, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, tomato powder, and various spices and many brands have their own spin. Go big or head to the airport and go home!

7. Maple candy

This one is fairly self-explanatory and it would be a crime not to include them on this list. In Canada, we turn maple syrup into candy. These have all the maple flavour minus the mess of the actual syrup. Are they good? Only if you have a sweet tooth.


8. Goldfish crackers

Ok. These aren’t exclusive to Canada and they may look like the kind of snack you send with a toddler to daycare but trust us here: these are a Great Canadian Snack item worthy of a spot on this list. Cheddar-flavoured and delicious, these are addictive, savoury, won’t make a mess and are good enough for dinner (hey, when you’re on a backpacker budget…).

9. Butter tarts

Butter tarts are a classic Canadian dessert, consisting of a flaky pastry shell filled with a sweet and gooey mixture made primarily from butter, sugar, and eggs. The filling often includes additional ingredients such as pecans or raisins, adding texture and flavour to the rich, caramel-like center. If your Canada trip includes the countryside on the East side of the country, you’re bound to find them in little family-run bakeries. Don’t even bother trying to eat just one…


And to wash it all down…

With all that saltiness, you gotta quench your thirst with something! Don’t miss out on Canada’s top two beverages that pair well with the country’s best snacks.

10. Root beer

For whatever reason, root beer is a controversial drink. Many folks from the United States who didn’t grow up with it think the flavour is too strong. Canadians though know that this is the best fizzy drink of all the choices. This is a dark carbonated drink made from roots, spices, vanilla and licorice. Note on Canadian language: we say “pop” while our neighbours to the south say “soda.”

11. Canada Dry ginger ale

Don’t leave the country (or finish your Canadian road trip) without stocking up on—and draining—a case of Canada Dry. Made from ginger root, this pop is a fresh thirst-quenching drink that goes with everything. You’ll recognize it by its iconic green can with the map of Canada on it.

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