A final farewell to Tancook Sauerkraut, made in Nova Scotia for 75 years

Posted on August 11, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments


A carton of Tancook Sauerkraut from the 70s (photo credit: M.A. Hatt & Son, Ltd.)


Sprinkled on top of a hot dog, mashed into your potatoes, or eaten straight from the carton. For almost a century, Tancook Sauerkraut was a staple product for Nova Scotians and others across the East Coast with a taste for the salty, sour condiment. While the product is no longer in production, fans remain for the unique treat made from cabbage grown on the island of the same name.


A Tancook Island cabbage (photo credit: Yonder Hill Farm)


Homegrown cabbage

Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia is a small isle about five miles in length and three miles wide, with a long history of sauerkraut production. In the 1700s, settlers from Germany came to the island, bringing seeds for a unique variety of cabbage. The crops thrived on the island. Once harvested, cabbage was preserved by being made into sauerkraut, which was sold by the barrel to seafarers who believed the condiment helped combat scurvy and provided the nutrition needed to endure harsh winters.

Tight-headed cabbage from the island was ideal for sauerkraut. Traditionally, cabbage was shredded by hand, salted and placed into wooden barrels to undergo a fermentation process that could take up to four weeks. The result is said to have been very rich in flavour.

Tancook Sauerkraut, the brand, was founded in the 1940s. Using the same recipe used on the product’s namesake island, Cory Hatt’s great-grandfather began commercial production in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Instead of barrels, the product was packaged in red and white milk cartons and plastic tubs holding up to 30 pounds, and sold in grocery stores across Atlantic Canada.


A M.A. Hatt & Son sign, makers of Tancook Sauerkraut (photo credit: M.A. Hatt & Son, Ltd.)


Gone too soon

A family business, Tancook Sauerkraut survived through four generations and was owned by the Hatt family’s corporation, M.A. Hatt & Son, Ltd. In January 2022, the business announced that it would cease production of its Tancook Sauerkraut brand “due to financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic”, as stated on its Facebook page and website.

Fans expressed their sadness in the comments of the announcement on Facebook. Some asked the brand to reconsider, while others shared fond memories of the product known for its flavourful, authentic taste. “Please reconsider. Raise the price but don’t stop,” commented Pam Williams. Once Wandalee Collicutt heard the news, she decided to stock up while she could. “So sad to hear. I always have a container in my freezer. I went out yesterday and bought all that I could find at Sobeys.”


Modern cartons of Tancook Sauerkraut (photo credit: M.A. Hatt & Son, Ltd.)


A final farewell

Today, Tancook Sauerkraut remains out of production. Making sauerkraut is also becoming less popular on Big Tancook Island, as many who know the traditional process get older. For those looking for locally-produced sauerkraut in Nova Scotia, Krispi Kraut, a competitor, is still available. However, for fans of the Tancook brand, it’s just not the same.

A staple in households across the east coast for 75 years, Tancook Sauerkraut is gone but not forgotten.


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