Around our house, maple syrup coats our pancakes, sweetens our smoky chipotle chili and mingles with lemon on our standby oven-roasted baby potatoes. I try not to be caught without a bottle of the stuff in the fridge. Why? Because it’s amazing.
But maple is also a part of the tourist culture in Canada, with ubiquitous tiny glass jars of maple syrup and plastic-wrapped hard maple candies sold at airport gift shops across the land. Yes, these maple candies are good and, despite their crazy price, I can’t see anything wrong with someone bringing a tiny bottle of maple syrup back home with them to Sri Lanka after a visit to our country.
And yet, the maple candies I’m most familiar with are those at the gift shops. These Maple Kisses from Kerr seem to fill a void for a more everyday maple candy, sold to Canadians through a combination of patriotism and our collective understanding that maple is pretty damned delicious. The packaging talks up both of these things: “There is nothing like the taste of maple! Is there anything better or more Canadian? Our Maple Kisses taste great and are loved by both kids and adults alike. Made with real maple syrup, they are a true Canadian treat. Enjoy!”
The package states proudly that the candies are made with 10% maple syrup, and only “natural flavours” are listed in the ingredients. Which means you’d hope they taste like legit maple, and not like Aunt Jemima or another “sirop de poteau,” a term I learned in Québec that translates, roughly, as the kind of syrup you’d get if you tapped a wooden telephone pole. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love Québec?)
When unwrapped, they emit a maple aroma. The texture is soft and sticky, almost creamy. As for the taste? Well …
The use of the word “kisses” was instant cause for concern, as they’re made by the same company that makes Kerr’s Halloween kisses, which National Post columnist Tristan Hopper rightly refers to as The Worst Halloween Candy in Canada. In flavour, they are far too close to the godawful molasses-spiked Halloween kisses made by Kerr’s. This is possibly because dark maple syrup tastes not entirely unlike molasses, and is often used in industrial applications where maple is a desired marketing angle, yet where a lighter grade of maple would be too expensive to use (ie. too much syrup would be required in a recipe for any discernable maple taste in the final product).
While I’m sure there must be some people out there who like Halloween kisses (leave a comment to prove you exist?), I’m not one of them. Which means I won’t be buying these again.
Cost: $5.49 for a 300-gram bag at Save-On Foods in Edmonton.
Nutrition: 160 calories per 5 pieces (40 grams). Also, the same portion contains 3.5 grams of fat.
The verdict: Yuck. More like molasses than maple. Pass.