150 Toronto Food Facts
Enjoy 150 informative, historical, fun and delicious facts celebrating this city’s love of food. As part of the City’s TO Canada with Love program marking Canada 150, 150 Toronto Food Facts will be shared via @LiciousTO social media from July 7 until the end of the year. The full list is available below.
1. Since 2003, Winterlicious and Summerlicious have served 6.5 million meals and generated nearly $290 million in economic activity for Toronto’s restaurant industry.
2. In 2015, an American economist declared Scarborough the “best ethnic food suburb I have seen in my life, ever, and by an order of magnitude.”
3. Toronto Beekeepers Collective has bee yards at 5 locations – Downsview Park, Black Creek Community Farm, Toronto Botanical Gardens, Ontario Science Centre & Royal York Hotel.
4. A Toronto food tour spans much of the 501 streetcar line, showcasing diversity of neighbourhoods along Queen St.
5. The food and beverage cluster is the second largest employment sector in Toronto, the largest sector of its kind in Canada and one of the biggest in North America, along with New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
7. George Brown College’s Chef School has its own restaurant called The Chefs’ House, which gives Toronto diners access to affordable gourmet meals.
8. Famous Montreal chef David McMillan called Toronto Canada’s best food city in April 2017.
9. Award-winning cookbook Setting a Fine Table, will teach you to prepare dishes that officers would’ve eaten at Fort York.
10. Toronto has a vegetarian food bank. As of November 2016, it has served the equivalent of 50,000 meals.
11. Along with traditional sushi, Toronto also features sushi pizza, sushi burritos, sushi burgers & sushi donuts.
12. Twenty-four Toronto restaurants made the third annual Canada’s 100 Best list.
13. Fruit, such as apples & peaches, still grow in the orchards at Toronto’s Spadina House museum.
14. Toronto’s Hot Eats campaign will spotlight more than 70 restaurants showing how much there is to eat in East York.
15. Along with its annual world-class film festival, TIFF hosts Food on Film, a movie series for foodies with chefs & lots to eat.
16. Four Toronto parks have public ovens that bake up fresh bread, pizza & other treats.
17. In 2014, the New York Times chronicled Toronto’s multicultural buffet, aka our diverse food scene.
19. Nearly each weekend in the summer, street festivals show off different neighbourhoods and their diverse range of cuisines. These include Taste of Little Italy, Taste of the Kingsway, The Roncesvalles Polish Festival and Taste of Manila.
20. One of Centennial College’s newest programs is Food Tourism highlighting how people now travel with their taste buds.
23. The Senator is considered the Toronto’s oldest restaurant dating back to 1929 & open in its current format since 1948.
24. Food Starter Toronto, founded in 2015, has helped over 130 entrepreneurs and companies launch products, including many that are sold at big chain retailers as well as in smaller grocery stores.
25. Selling alcohol was banned in the Junction back in the early 1900s—this was fully reversed only in the year 2000.
26. In warmer months, Toronto beer lovers can use the Craft Beer Passport mobile app to find $2 pints around the city.
27. In 2017, Toronto’s Waterfront Night Market will take over the Hearn Generating Station, a decommissioned power plant.
29. Growing since 1993, Toronto’s Taste of the Danforth now has 3 km of space & attracts more than 1.5 million visitors.
30. Around 60 food trucks can serve curbside in Toronto this summer, including trucks with pierogi, dumplings & Ethiopian food.
31. JerkFest celebrates Caribbean food & holds a hot & spicy jerk chicken-eating contest during each day of the festival.
32. Once an amusement park, Ontario Place now plays host to multiple Toronto food festivals each summer.
33. During the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 regular season, 494,479 stadium hot dogs & 143,005 foot-long hot dogs were sold at the Rogers Centre.
34. In December 1987, Toronto’s Honest Ed’s began its famous free turkey giveaway, which continued until 2015.
35. At its summertime peak, the hotel rooftop apiary at the Fairmont Royal York hosts 350,000 honeybees in six hives, which produce an average of 450 lbs. of honey per year.
36. Toronto has a non-profit that’s all about mushrooms. The Mycological Society of Toronto aims to educate us all about the importance of fungi.
38. Founded in 1983, Daily Bread Food Bank gives 159 tons of fresh/fresh-frozen fruit, veggies, dairy and meat to 200 community food programs every month.
39. The Festival of South Asia in Toronto’s Little India (Gerrard India Bazaar) has been known to attract 250,000 attendees over two days.
43. Toronto’s namesake cocktail dates back to 1922 & features a mix of Canadian whisky, Fernet-Branca, simple syrup & Angostura bitters.
44. Toronto has a Society of Beer Drinking Ladies who hosted Canada’s first all-ladies craft beer festival in April 2016.
46. Today, the Evergreen Brick Works hosts a popular year-round farmers’ market and a restaurant, but in the early 1900s was a quarry & brick factory making 100,000 bricks per day.
47. Toronto restaurants Golden Street Diner, Mercatto & Tundra were featured in 2016 Academy Award Best Picture winner Spotlight.
48. This year a Toronto chef started a food festival called Trashed & Wasted, promoting creative ways to curb food waste.
49. Toronto’s CN Tower has the highest wine cellar in the world.
50. Torontonians can register their fruit-bearing trees with the non-profit Not Far From the Tree and volunteers will come pick their fruit and split it three ways: with homeowners, volunteers and local food banks, shelters and community kitchens.
51. Black Creek Pioneer Village has a brewery that operates like one from the mid-1800s & they sell the beer in the LCBO.
52. Before Buzzfeed wrote about the “The Insane New Ice Cream Creation Taking Over Instagram,” Hong Kong-style waffles were available at Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery.
53. Patchmon’s is considered Toronto’s first Thai bakery.
54. The Distillery District is home to the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, eastern North America’s first sake brewery.
55. The first Loblaw store opened in Toronto in 1919 and within a decade they expanded to more than 70 stores in Ontario alone.
56. One of Toronto’s newest restaurants, La Palma, has a 100-layer lasagna on its menu.
58. Starbucks may have broken the internet with its Unicorn Frappuccino, but Toronto’s CutiePie Cupcakes & Co. invented the Unicorn Latte nearly a year before.
59. The group Not Far From the Tree will be pressing cider in 10 city parks in 2017.
60. Fort York’s Historic Foodways Programme honours culinary history by cooking & baking in preserved kitchens on-site.
61. Toronto’s George Brown Chef School has famous grads including Bonnie Stern, Mark McEwan, Lynn Crawford & Jamie Kennedy.
62. Companies such as the Steele Briggs Seed Co. & William Rennie Seed Co., had test gardens where they developed seeds for the Toronto climate back in the mid-1800s and early 1900s.
63. Toronto’s new EDIT Festival will include a whole section on food, including a Food Tech Pavilion, showcasing what might be on our plates in the future.
64. 1 of Toronto’s largest summer food festival’s TO Food Fest in Scarborough highlights the city’s cultural diversity.
65. Local restaurants and food vendors compete to sell the most outrageous food items at the CNE. Past creations have included cronut burgers and poutine balls.
68. Taste of Toronto features renowned chefs, high-end restaurants & is part of 22 Taste events held around the world.
69. 7-time Canadian Oyster Shucking Champion Eamon Clark of Toronto’s Rodney’s Oyster House holds the record of shucking 18 oysters in 1 minute & 16 seconds.
70. Toronto hosts the World Poutine Eating Championships every year. The 2016 winner & world record holder Joey Chestnut ate 25.5 lbs. of poutine in just 10 minutes.
71. The rooftop farm on the engineering building at Toronto’s Ryerson University produced 8,000 pounds of food in 2015.
72. Around 1850, confectioner Thomas Webb was the first Canadian to start selling ice cream – right here in Toronto.
73. Toronto is home to over 50 breweries.
74. Scarborough’s Lamanna Bakery has unique pizza toppings, including grilled cheese sandwiches & mini slices of pizza.
75. In the 1930s, three Toronto SickKids pediatricians invented Pablum, a dried cereal-like formula to improve infant nutrition.
77. In 1944, George Bick & his son started selling pickled cucumbers from their Scarborough farm to Toronto restaurants. Two decades later, Bick’s was putting out 36 million pickle jars per year.
78. Toronto’s family-run & top 5 biggest cask ale festival Cask Days features nearly 400 different types of beer & cider.
79. Toronto boasts more than 9,000 restaurants & bars, making the options of where to eat and drink endless.
80. Architectural firm Partisans got an R+D Award from Architect Magazine for its work on Bar Raval.
81. After her May 26, 2016 Toronto concert, Beyoncé ordered $3,500 worth of smoked meat sandwiches from Caplansky’s Delicatessen.
82. The Frugal Housewife’s Manual from 1840, by A. B. of Grimsby& printed by Toronto’s J.H. Lawrence, was one of the first English language cookbooks compiled in Canada.
83. Popular soda, Canada Dry Ginger Ale was invented in Toronto by pharmacist & chemist John J. McLaughlin.
84. One of Toronto’s most outrageous desserts is the $50 Bowie-inspired Ziggy Stardust disco chocolate egg by Brandon Olsen at his restaurant La Banane.
85. Toronto chef Dave Mottershall made headlines using Kickstarter to crowd fund his Queen Street West restaurant Loka.
86. Toronto’s largest ribfest in Etobicoke estimates that 100,000 attendees ate 62,500 kg of ribs at the 2016 festival.
87. The Tulip, dating back to 1929, says it’s Toronto’s oldest surviving steakhouse & 1 of the city’s oldest restaurants.
88. Students in a food history course at the University of Toronto Scarborough had to run a pop-up restaurant for their midterm exam this year.
89. Robert Henderson is said to have opened Toronto’s first brewery, at Sherbourne and Richmond, in the early 1800s.
90. Toronto’s Living Earth Farm is Ontario’s first certified organic vertical farm. It produces herbs & greens.
91. William Davies of William Davies Co, one of Toronto’s 1st meat producers, is credited for inventing peameal bacon.
92. The Place is a café near Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market that makes lattes with flowers.
93. The Wheat Sheaf Tavern is Toronto’s oldest bar. It opened in 1849 & was popular with soldiers stationed at Fort York.
94. Toronto got its first cycling café, a concept popular around the world, in 2017.
95. Millie Patisserie’s Japanese-style crepe cakes include 20-25 layers of crepes & rich pastry cream.
96. As of 2013, there were 1,149 food & beverage manufacturing establishments in Toronto.
97. Toronto’s non-profit organization Newcomer Kitchen gives Syrian refugee women the opportunity to cook & sell food at The Depanneur restaurant.
98. Old shipping containers make up a vibrant, multicultural outdoor food court at Dundas & Bathurst known as Market 707.
99. SanRemo Bakery in Etobicoke advertises it can print anything on a latte, including photos of Drake and Ryan Gosling.
100. Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, which focuses on Islamic art and culture, includes an on-site restaurant called Diwan.
101. To mark Honest Ed’s closure, Henderson Brewing Co. made a special beer with sugar it bought from the famous discount department store.
102. UofT’s Culinaria Research Centre mapped the evolution of Scarborough’s Chinatown over the past 30 years, letting you explore online & discover new places to eat.
103. Vesuvio Pizzeria in the Junction, which dates back to 1957, is considered the oldest pizzeria in Toronto.
104. Maizal in Liberty Village doesn’t waste any food; all scraps get delivered to an eco-farm in Schomberg where they’re composted or fed to animals.
105. Toronto made headlines around the world when it got a Harry Potter-themed bar with food & drinks inspired by the wizarding world.
106. In 2012, the National Geographic named Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market the best food market in the world.
107. Scarborough’s Crown Pastries’ famous pistachio baklava has 24 layers of phyllo dough.
108. The Food Network once named Toronto’s L.U.S.T. (Luke’s Underground Supper Club) one of the top 15 supper clubs in the world.
110. The now-shuttered Riverboat Coffee House in Yorkville was credited with helping launch the careers of iconic Canadian musicians like Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.
111. High Park Brewery created the cherry-flavoured Under the Sakura Lager in honour of the park’s famous cherry blossoms.
112. FRANK, the restaurant at the AGO is named after the world-famous Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry, probably because he designed it.
113. The annual Royal Winter Fair at Exhibition Place is one of the biggest agricultural & equestrian fairs in the world.
114. There’s a condo development coming to Toronto called The Plant where residents will get to grow their own food.
115. Toronto has a comic book-themed restaurant in Yorkville called Figures.
116. In 2016, one Torontonian kept his New Year’s resolution & ate one burger a day, most of them from local restaurants.
117. Toronto’s first all éclair bakery Nugateau sells pastries shaped like TTC streetcars & the city skyline.
118. You can get a slice of apple pie blended into your milkshake any time day or night at 24-hour diner The Lakeview.
119. People’s Eatery on Spadina pays homage to Kensington Market’s history with a menu inspired by multicultural cuisine, as well as food from the various cultures that make up Toronto.
120. You can get gelato spiked with crunchy crickets at Death in Venice, a gelato shop in Toronto.
121. Thistletown Collegiate Institute students have run booths at Toronto’s Underground Market & the Mac & Cheese Festival.
122. Toronto’s Ontario Food Terminal is the third largest wholesale fruit & produce distribution centre in North America.
123. At O.Noir, you dine in the dark and can choose a prix fixe menu of surprise dishes, heightening your other senses.
124. When bequeathing High Park to Toronto, John Howard stipulated alcohol should never be sold there.
126. In 2017, the Spirit of York Distillery opened inside the old Gooderham & Worts malting room.
127. Toronto’s SOMA Chocolatemaker are the first Canadian brand to win a gold award at the International Chocolate Awards.
128. The Sake Institute of Ontario annually hosts Canada’s largest sake festival with 150 sakes available to try.
129. Gryfe’s Bagels reportedly makes more than 1,000 dozen bagels per day.
130. The Toronto Vegetarian Association dates back to 1945 & now boasts more than 1,500 members.
131. Last year Toronto chef Craig Wong opened Dubai’s first Jamaican restaurant (Ting Irie).
132. St. Lawrence Market North building has been built & rebuilt at least 5 times with the latest iteration due for completion by 2020.
133. Toronto’s first community orchard in Ben Nobleman Park features cherry, plum, pear & apple trees on site.
134. In 2010, Food & Wine magazine ranked Toronto’s (formerly) elusive Charlie’s Burgers number 3 on its list of 100 best dining experience in the world.
135. Maple Leaf Gardens, the historic former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is now an 81,450 square-foot Loblaws grocery store.
136. Poutine might be associated with Quebec, but Toronto’s own Smoke’s Poutinerie has expanded across Canada & the U.S.
137. Each winter, Toronto gets a Steak Festival at Allen’s on the Danforth with all sorts of cuts of beef.
138. Celebrated musician Glenn Gould used to visit Fran’s Restaurant on College while recording at the Eaton Auditorium across the street. His order was scrambled eggs, dry white toast and weak tea.
140. Edward Pasquale opened a store in 1917 to provide Italian immigrants with food from home. The Pasquale Brothers is still in business, now in Etobicoke.
141. Plants, herbs, mushroom & berries foraged from forests are on the menu at Chef Michael Hunter’s Toronto restaurant Antler.
143. Alina Budzinski was bartender at the Fairmont Royal York’s hidden, train-themed bar York Station for 42 years before retiring in 2017.
144. It’s not unusual to find lineups at some of Toronto’s most popular ice cream shops in the middle of winter.
145. Rachel Pellett, the co-owner of Emma’s Country Kitchen, once won the Food Network show Donut Showdown.
147. During WWI & WWII, Torontonians planted victory gardens generating hundreds of thousands of dollars (in current $) worth of food.
148. Two Torontonians created teaBot, a robotic tea kiosk that custom blends & brews cups of loose-leaf tea on the spot.
149. Khorak Supermarket, one of Toronto’s most popular Iranian grocery stores, is open 24/7.
150. Various waves of migration have helped shaped how we eat in Toronto including Kensington Market, a microcosm that has shifted from a predominately Jewish marketplace to one of diversity.