As one version of the story goes, ever since Vancouver Island resident Mabel Jenkins created her tri-layered, no-bake chocolate square in the 1950s, the Nanaimo bar has been a staple on dessert platters all over Canada. For today’s tastiest versions, head to Nanaimo, B.C., where, in addition to the traditional square (which consists of chocolate, custard and a mixture of wafer crumbs, coconut and nuts), you’ll find Nanaimo bar cupcakes, sundaes, fudge, cocktails and other variations of the iconic dessert. And you can taste them all when you embark on the self-guided tour of the city’s Nanaimo Bar Trail.
Kick off the tour at the Nanaimo Museum, where you’ll work up an appetite wandering through the exhibits and reading about the history of the treat. Next, head to Real Food in the Old City Quarter and start the real indulgence with a huge slice of Nanaimo bar cake.
Or, for a much crispier snack, try the deep-fried Nanaimo bar at Pirate Chips, where each layer inside the beer batter is melted to ooey gooey goodness.
To wash it all down, go to Acme Food Co. and sip on a Nanaimo bar martini, made with hazelnut liqueur, vanilla vodka, rum, Creme de Cacao and milk.
For more sweet Nanaimo treats, grab a copy of the Nanaimo Bar Trail map at the city’s Visitor Centre, then put on your stretchiest pair of pants and let your dessert adventure begin.