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I get a little starstruck from meeting Americans. I mean, they’re at the centre of everything, including solipsism.

Whenever I cross the border, I hand my wife our camera, throw my arm around the first American I see and yell “Yankee Doodle Oprah Pop Tarts!”  They usually play along until I try to feed them peanuts.

After spending two weeks in California, I think the biggest difference between their nation and ours is the price of cheese. If we could get mozza that cheap, we would have an obesity epidemic too. (Even their landscape has a higher BMI.)

Culturally, Canada exists somewhere between Europe and the U.S. On the surface, Americans  seem closer to us. There’s the proximity, the common language, and the prevalence of their popular culture, best represented by the 24-hour availability of The Big Bang Theory. Europeans are closer when it comes to values: health care, accessible education, acknowledgement of curling as a sport, awareness of the existence of curling.

Who’s ruder? Europeans, hands down. Especially that old bitch on that train in Amsterdam. Who’s more confounding? Americans, because of the gun thing. (Thanks to Sandy Hook, we finally have an answer to the question: “How many children have to die before Americans are willing to even discuss firearms regulation?”… “More than 20.”)

There are qualities about Americans that I envy: their drive, friendliness and ambition. Then there are the characteristics I do not admire: again, the gun thing.

After two weeks in their midst, I am left with one question above all. Why does the richest, most powerful country in the world have such crappy candy bars?

Go into any corner store or gas station, and the same dozen mediocrities stare back at you. Almond Joy, Butter Finger, Milky Way. I mean, Baby Ruth? Canadians select from a cocoa cavalcade that is bigger, better and far more varied: Mr. Big, Crispy Crunch, Sweet Marie, Caramilk, Aero and the cavity-inducing magic of a Crunchie bar. It’s just a matter of time before someone comes out with Curling Crunch.

And don’t get me started on quality. Eat a Hershey Bar. Savour the waxy goodness. Now bite into anything bearing the word “Cadbury.” That’s chocolate good enough to kill for (but only using a knife or club—no waiting period).

Lastly, I just wish Americans would take a smidgeon of interest in our history and culture. We’re worth learning about. Oh well. Happy Third of July, America!


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