Woman behind Cuban Lunch bar’s revival hopes to unravel mystery ingredients in original

Crystal Regehr Westergard holds a Cuban Lunch, a rectangular peanut-and-chocolate confection, in this undated handout photo. The Canadian Press

An Alberta woman who has revived a classic prairie chocolate bar says she’s determined to get the recipe exactly right, despite having sold one million bars so far.

Three years ago, physiotherapist Crystal Regehr Westergard started trying to recreate her mother’s favourite treat: The Cuban Lunch bar.

“Frankly anyone with a lick of sense would’ve known they couldn’t bring back the Cuban Lunch. But I didn’t have a lick of sense so I thought I could. So I began to,” she told 680 CJOB Thursday.

The bar had been out of commission for almost 30 years, last made at the Paulins-Chambers factory in Winnipeg’s Exchange District and no one seemed to know the exact recipe. Made of chocolate and peanuts, the recipe hasn’t been easy to crack.

“We took some of the recipes we found online and experimented with them and we ‘forced’ my patients in my clinic to eat them,” laughed Westergard, who lives in Camrose, Alta.

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“Those recipes were way off, and so we got a little closer before we rented a commercial premises.”

The bars are being stocked in grocery stores in Western Canada, but Westergard said they’re still not quite right.

The Cuban Lunch candy bar. Julie Buckingham/Global News

“It’s been such a mystery. Learning the exact ingredients … has been a bit of a holy grail for me and that’s why I’ve come to Winnipeg to see if I can uncloak that mystery and get to the bottom of what were they were putting in those Cuban Lunches.”

While in Winnipeg, Westergard said she will be talking to a food researcher who may be able to help – and turn the bar into a cool summer treat.

“We’ve found a gentleman at the research facility who used to work with the chocolate at the Cuban Lunch Factory at Paulins and he has promised to try to transmit the flavor of a Cuba Lunch chocolate bar into an ice cream for people.”

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Even if they do crack the recipe, it won’t be exactly the same that some older folks will remember, said Westergard.

“So in the ’40s and ’50s there was no actual clear wrapper, it was just in the little red cup … and so waxy it wouldn’t melt. So the wax, we can’t put in.”

Despite that, the bars have been flying off the shelves since they launched in September, outselling KitKat bars when grocers could keep them in stock, said Westergard, adding they will make their way back into Manitoba stores shortly.

It’s been a ride Westergard never anticipated, but she says she would do it all again.

“If you haven’t got a Cuban Lunch bar yet for your mom, I’m just going to keep going until you are going to get a chance to get a bar for your mom too.”

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Cuban Lunch

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