Snack from the past is just what I was looking for

Sometimes, some of a person’s favourite things disappear and don’t come back.

Things like that wonderfully fizzy clear beverage called Tingle. Or those radical ketchup or relish, or mustard coloured jeans called Tee Kays. Or those geekily cool Gremlin or Pacer cars.

Or even those most excellent chocolate bars called Cuban Lunch.

But, wait a minute – not so fast.

Classic comestible aficionados will know some things do come back from oblivion – and the Cuban Lunch is one of those formerly extinct things.

Thanks to my precious Rotten Kids, every day is Father’s Day, but when the yearly patriarchal celebration created by greeting card companies comes around, a nice hug or a nice long phone call is all I need.

But for the recent Father’s Day, the Better Half brought home a nice little gift for me anyway, and it turned out to be one of those somethings I had forgotten that I was really, really missing.

It was a small rectangular block of chocolate embedded with peanuts, sitting snugly in red paper with frilled corners and wrapped in a clear packaging. A Cuban Lunch.

I hadn’t seen one of these in years. Decades perhaps, because I’m pretty fossilized by now.

I almost hugged the Better Half. OK, I did hug the Better Half, the cat and a couple of my neighbours – and this was before I had even taken a single nostalgic bite.

It turns out an enterprising lady from Camrose named Crystal Westergard recently revived the defunct Cuban Lunch, because it was her 84-year-old mother’s favourite chocolate bar, and she wanted her to have one.

She came up with one three years ago. Her mom loved it, and other people loved it, too. So they thought, well, let’s make a bunch and see how they do. Well, guess what – they’ve sold more than a million bars so far.

Like many of the world’s best things, the Cuban Lunch bar was a purely Canadian invention.

It was created in 1948, made in Winnipeg, and discontinued in 1991, whereupon fans of the unique and delightful snack slipped into a mild depression lasting nearly 30 years.

Until Westergard rescued us.

Crystal and her husband Bert discovered the Cuban Lunch trademark was available, purchased the said trademark, and jumped headlong into chocolate – researching and experimenting with recipes that didn’t exist anymore.

Crystal says their little Cuban Lunch adventure is “completely crazy,” but “at least we didn’t quit our day jobs.” Yet.

The first bite I took after three decades of non-Cuban Lunch nibbles was fascinating.

It tasted exactly like I remembered.

This was odd, because I usually can’t rely on remembering what I’ve forgotten. I saw they had the vitally important unique frilled red paper cup container exactly right, but the bite was a true memory munch.

It took me right back to simpler days of Tingle and Tee Kays and Gremlins.

And after much exhaustive daily research involving quite a number of Cuban Lunch test bars acquired at the local IGA, I came to the conclusion it must be the abundance of Spanish peanuts (which may have something to do with the name) embedded in the chocolate that gives the bar its distinctive taste, or perhaps the special chocolate itself, or maybe a secret ingredient imported from 1991.

I still haven’t quite figured it out yet.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have to some more research to do. Maybe I’ll start with two bars today and go from there.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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