I recently visited Winnipeg, because who wouldn’t want to stand at the corner of Portage and Main in mid-January? I was with a group, and it was a fantastic meeting, but I was inadvertently caught up in the Great Winnipeg Debate on Jeanne’s cakes.
Jeanne’s Bakery, according to the website, has been a Winnipeg tradition since 1936. Unknowingly, our Alberta member had been tasked to bring one of these concoctions to an eager recipient back in Edmonton. He innocently inquired where the nearest location might be. Reaction from the native Winnipeggers was instantaneous. “Why would you buy those? They’re disgusting.” “It’s cardboard with gross cake on top decorated with pencil shavings.”
Now, “cake,” “chocolate curls,” and “shortbread cookie crust” sounded fantastic to me, but one of these detractors was an amateur baker. How could I not trust her assessment? Then she shared that her husband adored Jeanne’s cakes. The debate was on. Apparently, the love/hate relationship of Winnipeg with Jeanne’s cakes is a recurring topic for local radio. One of our hosts agreed to provide a sample for us. She posted about this purchase, and within hours reactions raged. Comments included “as a baker, I am offended at their existence in the world” and “best childhood memory ever, I get one every chance I can.” Not a single person was ambivalent about this cake. At risk of sounding like an outsider, I have to admit, I could take it or leave it.