VIDEO: Waging war on the Jamaican patty: Canada’s bizarre beef with the delicious snack | Patty vs Patty
Patty vs. Patty tells the story of Toronto’s bizarre 1985 “patty wars,” when Jamaican-Canadian bakers went head-to-head with the federal government over the name of their beloved beef patty. #CBCShortDocs #PattyvsPatty

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At the time, the Meat Inspection Act determined a beef patty to be what goes in a hamburger. It could contain only meat and seasoning and it couldn’t be encased in dough or a crust. Therefore, a Jamaican patty — widely known as a flaky pastry with a spiced beef filling — didn’t meet the criteria. Bureaucrats thought calling hamburger patties and Jamaican patties the same thing would be confusing to Canadians — despite the fact that the latter were already popular in cities like Toronto due to a wave of immigrants who arrived from the Caribbean in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Food inspectors from Consumer and Corporate Affairs visited patty vendors across Toronto, demanding that the name of the savoury fare be changed. The officials threatened fines of $5,000 (more than $11,000 in today’s dollars) if the shops didn’t comply by changing their menus, packaging and signs to, well, anything except “patty.” The vendors resisted. They refused to sell the patty under any other name. Michael Davidson, the young manager of Kensington Patty Palace, found himself at the centre of the controversy when community outrage propelled the story into the media spotlight. Davidson made headlines in newspapers and on local TV news. Politicians got involved; lawyers got involved; both the Canadian and Jamaican governments got involved. Eventually, bureaucrats and representatives for the vendors met at a so-called “patty summit” to find a resolution that would avoid an international crisis between Canada and Jamaica. Told from Davidson’s perspective, Patty vs. Patty weaves together first-hand anecdotes, archival footage and satirical re-enactments to tell this story of bureaucracy gone amok, community resistance and a delicious pastry — officially known as the Jamaican patty ever since. More Shows: Stay Connected: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: