Wahkotowin: The Cuban Lunch

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

Cuban: Lunch Chocolate Bar, Cuban Lunch Corp.

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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Be well.

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