Heritage Stories 

Josephine’s Story:

“In 1949-50, I was a border in a convent school in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan.  We were always hungry.  We had no treats except on Saturday, when we were allowed to buy a Cuban Lunch. The Nun in charge would sell them to us for 10c. 

This was heaven to me, as I had also been a border there during the wartime, and at that time,  there was rationing in place, which meant no Cuban Lunches for us Girls! “


 

 

Gravelbourg Convent

Jospehine in 1954 after nursing graduation.

 

“In mid March 2020 I was in the co-op Harvest Hills store in Calgary and discovered they were selling Cuban Lunch chocolate bars.  I purchased several and was in seventh heaven when I slowly ate them.  I am 87 years old and cherish your Cuban Lunch bars and the memories they bring back to me.”

 

Terry Williams’s Story:

-Southern Saskatchewan

 “Mum ; Can I have a dime?” “What do you want a dime for? Do you think dimes grow on trees sonny Jim? “ It was a name she reserved for me when she was joking around and I knew that dime would soon be burning a hole in my pocket. I was nearing in on my ninth birthday and going to make the best of my summer holidays.

“Well, I want to buy a Cuban Lunch and I already have 12 cents from taking back some empty bottles to the hotel , so I could get a small coke and a Cuban Lunch.” A little bit of whining and hopping from one foot to the other and she scuffled through her old beige purse and smiling she said “all right off you go . Mind you stay out of trouble and don’t forget your manners. Make sure you’re back for lunch. And what did I say about brushing that hair ?” It was a red mass of unruly curls and it actually hurt my head to brush it. “Maybe now I can get some work done” ,she was saying to herself , as I was heading out the door, hair still unbrushed slipping the brush into my back pocket as I went. CBC radio playing on top of the fridge. ….At the tone-the time will be— 10 a/m—beep -beep- beep. I slammed the screen door behind me and was off running down our hill to the road. Ours seemed to be the only hill in our small Saskatchewan village called Frontier. We lived right beside the C.P.R. tracks as my dad worked for the railways.

Down main street I pulled on the old wooden screen door with the metal angled- Drink Coca Cola- sign across the front of the door of the Country Club Cafe on main street.

The hinges protested and squealed the same as they had done for all the years that we had been living in this small prairie village. Hans ambled his way toward me , smiling ,from the back of their cafe as the door clanger still ringing when the door slammed shut and made it shake and wobble on its metal hanger. His name was Hans but to this 8 year old boy he was Mr. Radbruch . “Could I get a Cuban Lunch and a small coke please ?” He smiled, “ Do you want the coke for in here or to take out ?” To take out the coke cost 12 cents but you got the two cents back when you brought the bottle back. You could then use the two cents to buy some gum . What a great life. I shoved my 22 cents across the counter and he let me fish in the water filled coke cooler and grab a small coke. A damp towel sat on the counter to wipe off the bottle. He pushed the small chocolate wonder across to me.

The Cuban Lunch!

It was my favourite chocolate bar. I wanted to wait for just the right time and place to open it. It was inside a clear plastic wrapper that had Cuban Lunch in bold red letters across the front . You could see the contents of a square block of chocolate that was really thick and had peanuts molded into the chocolate. The bar sat in a red wafer like paper that had molded ribbed corners and the chocolate molded to match the paper. The chocolate was sweet but not too sweet. The wrapper crinkled as I carefully opened half of it ; holding the other half between my fingers. I bit into the treat and felt the taste hit my tongue, as I laid on my back , near the edge of the railroad tracks, looking up at the top of the huge silvery , Saskatchewan Wheat Pool grain elevator that seemed as high as the moon. Big puffy cummulous clouds that drifted by in the blue sky made the elevator appear to be tipping over. The aroma of waist high clover hung strong in the July heat . The chocolate melted in my mouth and washed the peanuts down my throat . Waves of wheat in the hot Saskatchewan breeze looked like the whole field was the ocean. moving lazily and changing course as the wind changed directions.

Grasshoppers clicking madly in the heat as they sprang and flew from one clover to the next .

The chirping persisted and woke me from my day dream. The grasshopper sound is the ring tone on my iPhone and I am brought back to 2018, as I reach to answer my phone still savouring the taste of the new and revived version of the Cuban Lunch Chocolate Bar.

Thanks to Crystal Westergard , for reviving the small chocolate treasure and all the candy shops, including The Candy Vault in Salmon Arm, that are carrying them, there are a lot of baby boomers able to relive some old memories of their past . Like time stood still . When life was so simple that every day was just an adventure to enjoy.

Yeah, this is sure stirring up some ghosts for me…

 

 

 

 

The Polestarpost

Blog Post

The Cuban Lunch

-Taken with permission from the polestarpost blog post

This story is about my not-so-little brother. Although he is 4.5 years younger than I am, at 6’ 3”, he towers over the rest of my family and over me by almost a full foot. He is very strong and, I am told, has the stature of our great grandfather. As an adult, what I appreciate about him most is his strength of character and spirit, and can honestly say we make a formidable team when we align to take on life’s most difficult challenges.

The Cuban Lunch

 The other day I was in a grocery store and notice the “Cuban Lunch” chocolate bars displayed neatly beside the till. Do you remember them?  They were sold across the prairies until 1991 when the Paulins-Chambers factory in Winnipeg closed down. The revival of the chocolate and peanut bar is special not only because it is delicious but because it is also locally manufactured in Camrose, Alberta. It has an interesting revival story that can be accessed here.

 It was noteworthy for me to see those lovely rectangular bars of chocolate and Spanish peanuts because I hadn’t seen them in years and was instantly flooded with a memory from my childhood. When my brother and I were children, Cuban Lunches were an affordable chocolate bar, often found in bins around our local CO-OP grocery store and usually available for pennies each. Much to my surprise, the one I purchased for the photo in this post was a whopping $2.99!  Our grandma often kept a stash of select chocolate bars in her house, including the Cuban Lunch. She was Ukrainian, having emigrated with her family from Kiev when she was 5 years old. It was important to her to show the people around her how much she loved them by feeding them continuously. After visiting her, she would often gift us a chocolate bar to share for the way home.

 

 

 

 

Sharing is caring …

On one particular occasion, my family and I were on the short drive home from visiting with grandma. My brother and I were both sitting in the back seat of our parents’ gold Pontiac Parisienne car. My brother was about 11 or 12 years old at the time and much like every other little brother, he loved to pester me. He was in charge of holding the gift and had been given strict instructions to share it equally.  He peeled the clear plastic wrapper from the chocolate bar, and took it out of the red paper holder. Then, within the blink of an eye, he licked the entire back of the chocolate with one swoop of his tongue, and then broke the bar in half between his hands. Gesturing across the back seat to me, he laughed and said, “Here’s your half.” Of course, my initial reaction was to say, “Gross!”  I wanted to tell him to keep it, but I knew if I did, I would be playing right into his plan of not having to share the treat. Thinking quickly, I snatched the bar from him with one hand, rolled down the window with the other, and much to his wide-eyed shock, threw the bar out of the car and onto the gravel road. As I recall, my mother scolded me for wasting food and throwing things out the window … but in my mind, my one small victory made every bit of chastising worth it. Families!

The gift

With that freshly recounted memory in mind, I bought my brother a Cuban Lunch that he could enjoy all to himself.

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