Mangicakes / Canucks – Nicknames for Canadians

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Everyone knows what a gringo is, right? We usually call people from other countries as gringos, but many people who have recently moved to Canada might not know that Canadians also have received specific nicknames.

The original nickname “mangicake” was coined by Italian-Canadians during the height of Italian immigration to Canada. The translation to English is “cake eater”. There are a few opinions of the direct origin. When Italians first settled into predominantly Italian neighborhoods around Toronto, they were often welcomed by these people of Anglo-Saxon decent with cake (i.e. pound cake). The perception by Italian-Canadians at this point was that Canadians eat a lot of cake, hence the term mangicake.

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Others believe that the origin of the nickname came when a sweep of immigrants from Italy, Hungary, Germany and many other European nations hit Canada. A lot of the men would go work on construction sites. They would work side-by-side with the well-established first, second and third generation Irish, Scottish and other Non-European Canadians. At lunch, the Europeans would take out their big mortadella, tomato and provolone pannini sandwiches made by their mothers or wives, while their Non-European counterparts took out their biscuits, muffins and little cakes. Therein followed lots of laughs and jests in foreign languages, and ‘mangicake’ was born: “the one who eats cake”.

Here is a demonstration of a typical conversation which may have reference to the origin of the expression.

Dave: “Yum! Kraft peanut butter and jam sandwiches on Wonderbread and a Coke and Twinkie” for lunch. I’ve been hungry since my usual double-double coffee and 3 Tim Horton’s donuts from this morning. I can’t wait to get home and have a Schneider’s honey glazed ham and McCaines frozen cake.”
Mario: “Dave. Oh. Don’t be such a mangicake. I got a mortadella, tomato and provolone on a pannino and escarole salad. Why don’t you come over to my moms and try some of her pasta al forno with veal and dad’s homemade sausage and wine.”

Although it might be funny for foreigners, Canadians usually ignore it and see this with disdain, so don’t be all excited calling your Canadian friends by mangicakes! The term Canucks on the other hand, is not considered insulting at all, it is actually very appreciated and also the name of the Vancouver hockey team.

But if you are thinking, “poor guys, Canadians are so friendly and welcoming and are still made fun of”, they are not the only ones who are called by bizarre nicknames. Here is a list of other slang terms associated with different nationalities.

Nip – Offensive word for a Japanese person. From “Nippon”, first used in the World War II.

Spic, Spik, Spick – A person of Hispanic descent. Many people believe that it was originated from the abbreviation of the word “Hispanic”. It is also used for someone who speaks Spanish.

Paki – A racist term that is often applied to people of Pakistani or South Asian descent. It was originated about 30 years ago by British gangsters.

Gringo – Not always considered a pejorative term, unless used with the intent to offend. Refers to Americans, non-Hispanic U.S. national. Therefore, the U.S. is also known as Gringolandia.

Redneck or Hillbilly – Considered an insult to describe rural people of Texas and Southern States in the U.S.

Aussie – Typically a shortened version of the word Australian. An Australian citizen is usually called an Aussie, sadly, this usually refers to the white, anglosaxen australian when talking about the Stereotypical “aussie”.

Kiwi- The word has been broadened to refer to the people of New Zealand. Kiwi is a small flightless bird indigeonous to New Zealand, and is the most common symbol of the country.

Wop – A racial term for anyone of Italian descent, derived from the Italian dialectism “guappo”, close to dude, a greeting among male Neapolitans.

Porkchop – Regardless of the misconceptions that you people use, Porkchop is not a deragatory term for Portuguese people. In fact, it is often what Portuguese use to refer themselves as. Very rarely do actual people from Portugal call themselves Porkchops. Is it used because of the obvious similarities in the words “Portuguese” and “porkchop”, but also because Portuguese people generally enjoy consuming meat.

Frog – A term to describe anyone who is from France. The story I heard was that this term dated from the middle ages, when the French flag had a blue background with gold fleur-de-lys on it. The ignorant English, not knowing that the fleur-de-lys was supposed to be a flower, though that it represented a gold frog. Hence “frog” became a derogatory term for the French.

For more information about pejorative terms for different groups and nationalities, check the following links.




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