Stamp Nanaimo Bar - © 2019 Canada Post

Nanaimo Bar Gets Stamp – Stamp Gets Panned

No one would challenge the assertion that the Nanaimo Bar is one of a select few all-Canadian desserts that deserve all the recognition they can get. But a new series of commemorative stamps featuring uniquely Canadian sweets is getting bad marks for its portrayal of the beloved Bar…

REAL Nanaimo Bars - © earthfoodandfire.comThe real deal Nanaimo Bar, in all its glory.

Just where Canada Post got its picture of a so-called Nanaimo Bar remains a mystery. It may have been concocted by an artist according to someone’s faulty notion of what a true Nanaimo Bar is. But culinary experts and notables from the BC town it’s named after agree, what’s on the stamp isn’t a Nanaimo Bar.

No problem with the other candidates…

The Nanaimo Bar is joined in the stamp series by East Coast Blueberry Grunt, Saskatoon Berry Pie, Quebecois Tarte au Sucre and the immortal Ontario Butter Tart. The images of those treats appearing on their stamps look just fine. But the Nanaimo Bar pic is drawing a barrage of criticism.

“Rich and chocolatey Nanaimo Bars have been associated with their namesake Vancouver Island city since the no-bake recipe first appeared there in the 1950s,” Canada Post announced on its website to promote the April 17 issue date. The description was accurate, at least.

But that was about all…

Dessert nationalists across the country were quick to point out that the filling-to-base layer proportions were way off.

“That is definitely NOT a Nanaimo Bar,” Port Coquitlam MLA and B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, told the Mid-North Monitor.

Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA and B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson suspected that the image was created by, “an artist who has never eaten one.”

Any real Nanaimo Bar recipe you’ll see in any cookbook, or any example of the real B.C. Bar you find in a neighbourhood bakery will be about 50/50 base to filling.

And what about that filling?

I thought everybody knew that the filling of a Nanaimo Bar was a nice yellow Custard, not that odd-looking light brown stuff on the stamp. That stuff looks more like a Mocha or Café au Lait or Peanut Butter Creme.

And there are those self-proclaimed authorities who insist that the Chocolate Ganache top layer in the stamp image is not thick enough.

The learned analysis…

Dr. Lenore Newman, a Canada Research Chair at the University of the Fraser Valley has written a highly respected book about Canadian Food Culture and Cuisine.

“It’s similar to the deep passion people show over the raisins-or-no-raisins debate in Ontario for butter tarts,” said Newman of the fuss that the badly botched stamp image has stirred up. “But as the Nanaimo bar is built out of a no-bake cake recipe, the cake part really does need to be thicker. The one on the stamp doesn’t even look structurally sound!”


If you’re a stamp collector, go on out and get some of the Nanaimo Bar stamps first thing tomorrow, when they are officially released. Canada Post may yet call back the issue for a change of image, making those ‘ugly’ Nanaimo Bar stamps that do survive worth a fortune!


Celebrate the Canadian Desserts stamp collection by making a pan of REAL Nanaimo Bars yourself!

~ Maggie J.