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Dec 21, 2009 05:22 PM

American stuff (foodstuffs, equipment, etc.) you can't find in Canada?

I'm visiting the US for the holidays, and want to stock up on things that I can't find or have a hard time finding in Montreal. I'd already made American visitors bring me grits, orange tic tacs (just not the same when they're white), and powdered buttermilk. I finally found Old Bay Seasoning at a Jean Talon Market store.

Any other ideas? Does anyone else have things they're used to in the US that they can't find in Canada? Maybe unsulfered molasses?

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  1. Not sure where you are in Canada, but a previous poster from Quebec said they didn't distribute Spam there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Spam is available in Ontario, so our Quebec friend can go west to Cornwall if he doesn't want to cross south...

      1. re: monku

        If you read my posts on that thread, you'll see that Spam is actually relatively easy to find in Montreal.

        1. re: SnackHappy

          It was 4 months after the start of the thread when you made your discovery.

      2. Jif, key lime juice, real lemon extract, King Arthur flour,Fage yoghurt, Entenman's cheese danish (don't ask, it's a childhood thing).

        I'm sure I'll think of more stuff. I love doing groceries in the ole US of A.

        10 Replies
        1. re: maisonbistro

          western canada hear ,jif sobeys key lime coop ,fage i think i seen it at superstore ,as for the danish and the flour i dont know.

          1. re: howlin

            Fage doesn't import into Canada (trust me I've asked multiple times).

            1. re: Jasz

              yep your right .something about duty restrictions.boy im sure glad we got free trade.

          2. re: maisonbistro

            I in Quebec they don't need Fage, they have Liberte. That puts Fage out of the game. Really fine stuff.

            1. re: Candy

              Liberté is available here in Western Canada too and I agree it's g-o-o-d. But it's also really high fat and I've heard that the low/no fat Fage is supposed to be really good so I'd like the chance to try/buy it (I'm not really a fan of no fat yogurt as it doesn't taste like yogurt).

              1. re: Jasz

                Sorry to go OT but Jasz do you know/ could you point me to a thread that says where to find Liberte in Vancouver? I've been enjoying the Olympic Krema Vanilla Infusion (10 % butterfat) but would love to try the Liberte, in the absence of Fage. TIA.

                1. re: grayelf

                  I've found Liberte at Donald's Market, SuperValu (1st and Commercial), and a number of other places.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I'm not in Vancouver, grayelf; in Calgary I can find it at Safeway, Superstore, Sobey's...
                    This is from Wikipedia and it might help:
                    Liberté distributes its products to many smaller independent stores, but its main customers are:
                    - Loblaws
                    - A&P
                    - Dominion
                    - Y.I.G.
                    - Fortino's
                    - Sobey's
                    - Real Canadian Superstores
                    - I.G.A.
                    - No Frills
                    - Wal-Mart
                    - Whole Foods
                    - Pusateri's
                    - Byford Dairy

                    Btw, the Olympic is really good too.

                    1. re: Jasz

                      Thanks, guys -- I found it at my Safeway, tried the lemon which was nice but I think the Krema is closer to my beloved Fage :-).

                2. re: Candy

                  We have Liberte everywhere in Canada. I agree it's amazing.

              2. My wife is from the southern U.S. and we live in Toronto. You're right, definitely grits. She also brings back from "home" Zatarains mixes and spices (they cost a lot more in Canada), cottage cheese (to her the Canadian version is inedible), orange Tic-Tacs (as you mentioned), Solo canned poppyseed filling, which she uses to make poppyseed cake (yum!), Plugras butter, and BBQ stuff (spice rubs and sauces) which are generally cheaper and of better quality than what you'd find in Canada.

                If you use American recipes for baking, might want to buy American flour which has much lower gluten than the Canadian variety; using Canadian flour in an American recipe doesn't always yield a perfect result. American granulated sugar is more coarse compared to Canadian (which has much finer granules); the effect of which is, 1 cup of Canadian sugar weighs more than 1 cup of American, since there's less air space. But this doesn't have as negative effect as gluten in flour does.

                Look further down in the General board (this one!) for the thread about grocery shopping in Buffalo, NY (written mostly by cross-border shoppers from Toronto) for lots of ideas on U.S. food you can't get in Canada. Best hints -- for quality and selection go to Wegmans, for the lowest prices go to Aldi.

                1 Reply
                1. re: TexSquared

                  i love those little orange flavored tic tacs ,are they even better orange colored?.if so im gonna have to cross border more.oh ya ,found old bay at superstore .

                2. Hot Dogs (usually Nathans, but sometimes those ridiculously red ones)
                  Chips and Pretzels not available here like Snyders extra spicy
                  Cheap Beer
                  Huge Turkeys <$10

                  Maple Grove Farms of Vermont Fat Free Vidalia Onion dressing (possibly the best lo cal dressing in the world)
                  Smoked pork neck bones
                  Freezer Queen frozen sliced turkey and gravy
                  Shady Brook Farms ultra lean ground turkey (I appreciate the irony of buying cheap beer, hot dogs, and chips as well as fat free dressing and extra lean ground turkey...)
                  Skin-on Haddock fillets (you can only get skinless in Canada)
                  Cheap catfish
                  Frozen Crawfish
                  Cabot habanero cheddar cheese (quite spicy, puts jalapeno Havarti to shame)
                  Ultra cheap corned beef around St. Patricks day
                  House brand italian sausages
                  Cheap dog food (well at least before we lost good 'ol Bogie...)
                  Gas before returning to the border ($4/gallon is still a bargain for Canadians)
                  Snows clam chowder (both new england as well as manhatten)

                  was my response here

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: porker

                    oh sure ,rub the cheap beer in a canuks face .lol i hate paying 15 bucks for a yank 12 pack up here .although a found crawfish at the gimly market in winnapeg

                    1. re: howlin

                      Yeah, Canadian beer costs less in the U.S. than it does in Canada.

                      Go to, look at the weekly flyer at the beer prices. They usually carry Blue, Canadian, Moosehead, and others. On past trips I've picked up the Heineken mini-keg for $12.99 on sale at Price Chopper (New York State chain, not the one in Ontario).

                      1. re: TexSquared

                        your just being mean now .i still blame it on the libs

                        1. re: howlin

                          OK, now to really break your heart.. try this link and just look at those prices:


                          Oh yes, in Toronto, milk is $4 a gallon. In New York State, more like $1.99. Blame the dairy cartel for that....

                          1. re: TexSquared

                            Your link only reveals facial products that seem somewhat suspect.
                            Milk in Montreal is 3.35 a "gallon". Cheaper if you by 2 "gallons".

                              1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                Where do you find milk for 3.35 a gallon? If I buy the 3 bag container that ends up being ~1 gallon it's ~6 dollars. I haven't seen it for much cheaper anywhere.

                                1. re: Marta78

                                  You're right, Marta78. The minimum price of milk in Quebec is set by the Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires du Québec (RMAAQ) and right now it's $5.58 for 4 litres of 2% milk (1 US gallon = 3.79 litres)

                                  Here's the chart from the RMAAQ site:

                                  1. re: SnackHappy

                                    Thank you so much for this info! Is there anything else that's similarly regulated (other than alcohol, of course)? Is it why cheese is expensive here, too?

                                    1. re: Marta78

                                      The only other I can think of is beer. I think a few provinces, including Quebec, have a minimum price for beer. I don't believe there's a minimum for wine or spirits.

                                      As for cheese prices, I believe there's system for pricing milk destined for transformation based on floor prices for butter and skim milk powder set by the Canadian Dairy Commission. I don't know how that affects the price of cheese or other dairy products, though.

                                      1. re: Marta78

                                        Poultry products. Compare the prices of turkeys, chickens, and eggs and yo'll see they're artificially high in Canada.

                                        I tell people who are cross-border shopping for the first time, to stock up on chicken, turkey, milk, cheese, butter, and eggs. The savings from those cartel items will more than cover the gas to drive round-trip from Toronto to Buffalo.

                                2. re: TexSquared

                                  Besides Lobster at 4.99 a pound in Montreal now you can also get a nice Strip Loin roast for 3.49/lb. Want something a bit fancier Beef tenderloin roasts are going for 8.88/lb here. 300 grams of smoked salmon 7.99.
                                  24 Sleemans or pretty much any beer better than you can buy in the states, 23.36/24.
                                  Stop looking south, bargains are awash up here.
                                  The beat goes on against

                                3. re: howlin

                                  No, all the parties are the same in this respect - except the Bloc québécois, and they are pretty much kaput...

                                4. re: TexSquared

                                  Blue? Canadian???? Friggin Moosehead? My goodness, I expect more than that on a foodie board...that ain't beer and it is not Canadian either (if you look at the ownership). Foodies shoud be prepared to commit to some of the wonderful microbrewed, Canadian owned brews. Support your small brewers!

                                  Relevant to this thread though...LOTS of the stuff listed can be ordered online or found locally with a bit of research (with your local chow board being the first step) We try hard to support the little guys, not the mass producers wherever they are.

                                  1. re: TexSquared

                                    There is nothing impressive about the topmarkets flyer. Sam Adams is 14.99 for 12. Sleemans is 13.99 for 12 all over Montreal now. In fact, all year round I can buy Sleemans at my corner store for 14.98 for 12. It's the equivalent beer.
                                    Lobster's on sale at 4.99 a pound in Montreal right now. Delusions about cross border shopping should be outlawed.

                                    1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                      Major difference between our two provinces. Reason for your fair prices on beer: you guys are fortunate enough to be able to buy beer at the supermarket (as they can do in New York) so there's competition between the stores. In Ontario, beer is sold at just two places, Brewer's Retail (a monopoly owned mostly by Labatt and Molson), or the LCBO (provincial government liquor store). So we have monopoly pricing on beer, meaning artificially high.

                                      If you want to laugh at us, here's where you can see our ridiculous beer pricing:

                                      1. re: TexSquared

                                        That is true, but wine is usually cheaper at the LCBO than at the SAQ (we can buy wine at supermarkets and dépanneurs, but it is just dreadful plonk and more expensive than cheap wine at the SAQ).

                                        1. re: lagatta

                                          Mmmm, cuvée dépanneur, helping border-area American college students get blitzed for cheap for decades.

                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            Remember "Cuvée des Patriotes"?

                                            When the Pope came here he performed a miracle - transformed some bottles of Cuvée des Patriotes into wine!

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                              I remember for years Brador had the stranglehold on young american tourist beer sales. Why? 'cause they were the only game in town over 5%, meaning a quick buzz.
                                              Nowadays, 6% seems like kidstuff.
                                              Apparently La Fin du Monde and Trois Pistoles are the quick-drunk beers of choice for american high schoolers and college students.

                                          2. re: TexSquared

                                            Gotta agree with you there. Quality beer in Quebec is available, literally, on every street corner cheaper than anywhere in Canada or the USA.

                                          3. re: everyonelovessushi

                                            Delusions, yes. However 30 beers for $17
                                            tack on 10% for exchange rate, 30 beers come in under $20CDN - thats about 65c per brewskie.
                                            You oftentimes see Gennessee or Old Milwaukee at $10 for 24...

                                            But I don't head south for prices, its to get stuff unavailable here, as in my post mentions above. I won't pass up a bargain, though, like 19c/lb turkeys at thanksgiving, or 23c/lb corned beef at st. patricks day...

                                            1. re: porker

                                              That stuff drinks like water. They don't even list the alcohol content on the package because it's so low. Don't pay, turn on the tap at your hotel instead. It's free.

                                              1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                Actually, up until 1995, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prohibited any mention of alcohol content on beer labels, fearing that breweries might engage in strength wars, flaunting the potency of their brews.
                                                Things are changing, but its not necessarily because of low alcohol that its not listed on the label.
                                                I'm quite ignorant of specific US laws, but I think that beer in general has had 2 strengths; 4% and 5%. This to satisfy state regulations on where and who can sell certain types (as in bible states, gas stations, supermarkets etc etc).
                                                To further murk the waters, US alcohol specifics are sometimes defined in % by weight, ie 3.2% by weight which is equivalent to 4% by volume...

                                                Anyways, I'm not here to say its like water or not (I sometimes tongue-in-cheek say drinking US beer is like making love in a canoe: f***ing close to water), all I'm saying is that its cheap. And theres something to be said about that...

                                                1. re: porker

                                                  I believe there is a cutoff strength at which commercial beer has to be labeled malt liquor in the States. Even Singha comes (or used to) labeled "malt beverage" or some such due to its being over that magical percentage.

                                                  1. re: porker

                                                    There's actually nothing to be said for touting cheap american beer prices when you know the product touted is garbage on every angle.

                                                    1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                      Not all American beer is Bud Light, just like not all Canadian beer is Molson. Grow up.

                                          4. re: porker

                                            Cheap beer in the states certainly exists. You can drink water too, and it's free.

                                          5. Biscuits to make biscuits & gravy, deep dish pizza, tea to make thai iced tea.

                                            Thanks for letting us know about where to get old bay seasoning:)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: hala

                                              Yes, I found it in that fish store that's way to the right when you walk in through the main entrance of Jean-Talon, past the butcher's, etc.. Crab cakes just weren't the same without. Oh, and I've picked up some canned lump crab meat, now, too.

                                              1. re: hala

                                                You don't need biscuits to make B&G. You need sausage. Jimmy Dean or I use Tennessee Pride.