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From pineapple on pizza to ketchup on steak – the foods Canadians can and cannot stomach

Every couple of years, Research Co. and Glacier Media ask Canadians about food.
Polling shows there are more "definite" haters of pineapple on pizza in 2023 than there were in 2021

Every couple of years, Research Co. and Glacier Media ask Canadians about food. Our survey includes questions about some classic national staples, as well as other controversial dishes that are usually popular with locals in the Prairies and the Maritimes.

This year, poutine tops the charts across the country by a wide margin. More than four in five Canadians (82 per cent, up five points since our 2021 poll) say they would “definitely” or “probably” consume this dish.

Poutine’s reach is unrivalled, from a low of 79 per cent in Atlantic Canada to a high of 85 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Quebecers and British Columbians express the same level of fondness for the deep-fried potatoes with curds and gravy (83 per cent).  The highest level of rejection is observed with Canadians aged 55 and over at 21 per cent.

In about a year – if counting goes as quickly as the last time – we will know if Joe Biden will serve a second term as president of the United States. Whether he will face former head of state Donald Trump remains to be seen, but Canadians keep firm opinions on consuming steak “à-la-the-45th-American-President”. Just over two in five (42 per cent, down two points) would eat steak with ketchup, while a majority (55 per cent, up one point) would not.

Women are more likely to regard steak with ketchup as a blasphemy (60 per cent) than men (49 per cent). Majorities of Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party (52 per cent), the Liberal Party (53 per cent) or the New Democratic Party (NDP) (64 per cent) in 2021 reject this use of ketchup. We may have found the one topic where political unity exists.

A few years ago, plant-based hamburger patties started to appear in the menus of diners and even some fast-food restaurants. We do not see much of a change in the propensity of Canadians to try this delicacy, with 51 per cent (up one point) saying they would eat a plant-based hamburger patty, and 44 per cent (down two points) saying they would not.

In this particular case, age tells the story better than gender or region. While only 43 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and over would try a plant-based hamburger patty, the proportion rises to 51 per cent among those aged 35 to 54 and to 57 per cent among those aged 18 to 34. We will have to wait a few years to see if this is the beginning of a new wave in plant-based protein. The country’s oldest adults do not seem too eager to catch it.

There are four dishes that are usually considered more daring, and fewer than three in ten Canadians would eat them. Only 27 per cent of Canadians would eat prairie oysters (unchanged). The interesting finding this year is that acceptance of this dish is higher in Ontario (29 per cent), Quebec (also 29 per cent), British Columbia (27 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (26 per cent) than in Alberta (21 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (19 per cent). Maybe prairie residents are pranking us by putting bull testicles in our plates.

One in five Canadians would eat shark fin soup (20 per cent, down one point). We continue to see almost half of Canadians of East Asian descent (46 per cent) expressing no qualms over this dish, even if some restaurants have refused to offer it.

Two eastern delicacies remain more of a local taste. Just 20 per cent of Canadians would try cod tongues (up one point) and 17 per cent (down two points) would eat scrunchions, tiny crispy cubes of salted pork fat. In Atlantic Canada, affinity for these dishes climbs to 44 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively – higher than prairie oysters but significantly lower than poutine.

Finally, two-thirds of Canadians (68 per cent) say they would “definitely” or “probably” eat pizza with pineapple. This represents a five-point slide from the numbers we reported on in 2021. More telling, “definite” lovers of Hawaiian pizza – invented by Sam Panopoulos in Chatham, Ontario in 1962 – dropped from 54 per cent to 47 per cent, while “definite” haters increased from 14 per cent to 18 per cent.

On a regional basis, at least seven in ten residents of British Columbia (81 per cent), Alberta (76 per cent), Ontario (71 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (70 per cent) would eat pizza with pineapple. The two regions that are the most removed from Hawaii are at the bottom of the list: Atlantic Canada (62 per cent) and Quebec (54 per cent).

Finally, we asked Canadians to choose three ingredients for their pizza. More than half (53 per cent, up two points) include pepperoni and almost two in four (39 per cent, down eight points) add mushrooms. The rating is lower for sausage (24 per cent, up six points), green pepper (22 per cent, down two points), onion (21 per cent, down two points) and ham (17 per cent, down one point). The rise of sausage as a pizza topping is impressive, and it is accompanied by a noticeable drop for non-animal ingredients.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from Nov. 10-12, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.