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Crystal Regehr Westergard in Camrose, Alta., on April 6.Amber Bracken/Amber Bracken

What would you do with 133,000 chocolate bars? No, really. Crystal Regehr Westergard needs a plan. Fast.

The Alberta physiotherapist and candy company owner finds herself in the unusually sticky situation of having to give away that many Rum & Butter bars, after issues at the plant that manufactures them resulted in a glut of product – all marked with a looming June expiration date.

“It’s quite daunting. That’s one for every seven persons in Calgary,” said Ms. Regehr Westergard, speaking alongside a pile of Rum & Butters at her physiotherapy clinic in Camrose on Thursday. Her voice was strained, in the way of someone who can’t stop thinking about what to do with the 133,000 Rum & Butter chocolate bars.

“It’s immense,” she said. “If I think about it too much, I’ll start to shake.”

A full-time physical therapist, Ms. Regehr Westergard and her husband started Canadian Candy Nostalgia in 2018, recreating and re-releasing her mother’s favourite candy bar, the Cuban Lunch, which had been out of production for 27 years.

After the lauded Cuban Lunch launch – and because Ms. Regehr Westergard’s husband was such a good sport about their new sideline as chocolatiers – she wanted to bring back his favourite chocolate bar as well.

Enter the Rum & Butter.

The bar is comprised of eight squares, each containing a blob of gooey, non-alcoholic, rum-and-butter-flavoured filling. It’s rich with a touch of spice and the retro cool of a flavour that had – for no real reason – fallen from fashion. Think of a Caramilk bar, if the Caramilk bar had a big mustache and was hanging out listening to The Guess Who on LP.

Despite its popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, Cadbury stopped making Rum & Butters in 1996. (Ms. Regehr Westergard has come to know that sometimes big corporations just do this, no matter how much a food is loved.) The couple got the trademark, hired a designer to recreate the straight-from-the-rec-room packaging, and relaunched the Rum & Butter in 2021.

How sweet it would have been to end the story here.

But manufacturing and distributing a new product during the pandemic was a challenge – particularly for independent businesses – and as the factory they’d contracted to manufacture the bars struggled with staffing, production of Rum & Butters lagged.

Ms. Regehr Westergard was sympathetic. After all, you can’t stop the world, flip it back on and not have some problems. In this case, that meant what she calls “the backlog and the whoosh.” Fully staffed and up to full speed, the factory produced a truckload of Rum & Butters last spring.

And then, far too quickly, another.

Let’s pause here to consider the reality of 133,000 Rum & Butter bars. At first glance, it’s not so daunting. They don’t even fill a whole semi. But laid end to end, they would stretch 17 kilometres.

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Ms. Regehr Westergard and her husband started Canadian Candy Nostalgia in 2018.Amber Bracken/The Globe and Mail

You could give one Rum & Butter bar to every person in the city of Red Deer, then one to every fan at Rogers Place for a sold-out Oilers’ playoff game, then one to every passenger on 26 fully-booked Westjet flights, then one to every musician in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, then one to every performer in a large-scale musical production of Cats, then one to every member of the Regina Esperanto Club – and you would still have eight left to eat yourself.

For months, Ms. Regehr Westergard worked on moving the Rum & Butters, but the Rum & Butters were simply not moving fast enough. A country’s appetite for retro chocolate, she observed, does not follow the same dramatic whoosh as a factory jumping back into life.

Chocolate bars don’t require “best before” dates in Canada, but Canadian Candy Nostalgia uses them. Though the bars will be perfectly fine to consume past June, for grocers and many consumers, the date on the package is a ticking time bomb.

As months melted by, Ms. Regehr Westergard accepted that the time had come for action, and started looking for ways to give the bars away for free. But that, as it turns out, is harder than you might expect. She held emergency meetings with her staff, and this week, even appealed to her 161 Facebook friends for help.

“Give them to the food bank!” some said. (A food bank can’t distribute that many chocolate bars before June.)

“Pass them out across Canada!” some suggested. (Who will pay for shipping? How will the bars be handed out?)

“I’ll take a box!” some offered. (The boxes are in pallets of 11,000 bars at a food safe warehouse in Calgary, and can’t be accessed or easily broken up by individuals.)

“Try contacting schools,” one friend advised.

“With 133,000 bars to get rid of, I could phone schools all day, and still not get rid of enough,” Ms. Regehr Westergard lamented.

It all seemed so daunting. So much time and work for every idea that may or may not pan out.

With a full-time job seeing patients and running her physiotherapy clinic, and plenty of regular work to do with Canadian Candy Nostalgia, she didn’t have the time or connections to chase down leads. Rum & Butters sell for about $2 each, and while Ms. Regehr Westergard is prepared to eat the cost of the loss, she can’t spend even more money to give them away.

And so, here we are. With 133,000 Rum & Butter bars sitting at a warehouse in Calgary, waiting to be given away. They’re available in minimum loads of 11,000, or could be taken all together. Pick up: ASAP.

“You’d have a cry if you had to throw them out,” Ms. Regehr Westergard said, practising the kind of deep breaths she advises her patients to use to deal with pain.

She truly loves to make people happy with chocolate. If someone can take them, and all those Rum & Butter bars could be eaten and enjoyed, she’ll be the happiest of all.

If you have a plan and could make it happen, message Canadian Candy Nostalgia on Facebook, tweet @cubanlunch, or e-mail

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