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Passport for candy?

November 5, 2008 - Ron Flaviano
Back in the 1990's I travelled to Toronto Canada regularly to buy music. I found that the selection of remix cds was much better in Canada, and the exchange rate made every purchase a great value. I always needed a fresh supply of music as I deejayed for several years. This was before iTunes and Amazon, and the best way for me to get the music was to make the 4 hour drive to Canada. What does any of this have to do with candy? Read on.

On one of the many trips, I visited a dollar store and bought a pack of candy called Wine Gels. I had always been a fan of chewy/sour candy (Now and Later, Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, etc.), so I figured I would try the gels, as they were 4 rolls for a dollar. I bought them the first day of a 4 day trip. Initially I thought the taste of the wine gels was very unusual...almost like the taste of fermented fruit...with a somewhat wine-like taste. Sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, as there were different colors of the gels. I would find out later that the different colors represented different types of wine. There is no wine in the gels, but they do taste somewhat like wine.

2 days into the trip, all of the candy was gone, and I had to have more. So I went to the dollar store and bought 3 dollars worth. I thought to myself, I will have to get some of these when I get home. Much to my chagrin, the candy was only available in Canada (apparently one of the food colorings used is not permitted in the USA.) So the 2 rolls that I had left I managed to ration to last 4 months...

Every time after, I would make sure to get Wine Gels to last for a while when I got back into the US. Since the tragedies of 9/11, access to Canada has been less simple as in the 1990's. You have to carry a driver's license, certified birth certificate or a passport. I visited in 2007 (to buy Wine called Maynard's Wine Gums), and didn't have the proper credentials, but just received a warning.

Last weekend, I was in Detroit, and thought, hmmm.... "Maybe I can get some Wine Gums in Canada...Windsor." Well, I thought, all they could do is make me turn around if I didn't have the proper paperwork... Getting into Canada across the Ambassador Bridge is tedious at best, waiting in long lines during the questioning. I answered all of the questions, and presented them with my driver's license. The guard said that I should have a passport or my birth certificate, but checked my license plate and car and let me into Canada."

Once over the bridge and into Windsor, Canada, I found the nearest Zeller's (kind of like Target) and found the candy aisle. I stocked up on about $40 worth of Maynard's Wine Gums, enough to last about a year. It was quite an adventure, as I discovered a used CD store in Windsor too, and found quite a few bargains... I was so happy! It doesn't take much...

When it came the time to return to the US, I thought there wouldn't be any problems, as entering Canada wasn't that bad. I was wrong.

The US guard was not amused when I told him my reason for going to Canada was to buy some candy. I received a very stern warning for not having the proper credentials, and thought I was going to have to pull over for a car inspection (never a good thing.) The guard left the area for a section, and I thought I would be stuck in Canada for a while. He returned with all of this paper work explaining what I need to get into and out of Canada in the future. He also advised that I should get a passport if I intended on making any more candy runs. Not a pleasant experience...

But I did have my Wine Gums!!!

Why do I go to such lengths to get this candy? Well, since Windsor is like 2 minutes from Detroit, and it costs a fortune to buy the candy on Amazon, I figure it's worth the wait at the bridge. The candy has an addictive quality that I can't explain...and apparently people from the UK, and Canada miss them desperately if the leave their homelands.

In any event, I am going to have my passport ready and in hand the next time I visit it will be a sweet experience all the way around...!


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