Dispatch from the Field: The French Fry Capital of the World

So Edmundston was not a hit for us, but at least tiny Florenceville-Bristol, located an hour or so down the road in the middle of New Brunswick, is the French Fry Capital of the World. It used to be just f-b signFlorenceville, but a few years ago it merged with Bristol. When Port Arthur and Fort William merged they came up with a great name with a lot of punch: Thunder Bay! It was such a great name that Paul Shaffer decided to come from there. But the best the elders of these two little towns could come up with was Florenceville-Bristol. They could have saved a lot of money on their signs if they had come up with something shorter.

It acquired the French Fry Capital of the World honor because McCain Foods started here and it is the largest french fry producer in the world. If you are eating French fries while reading this post, one out of three of them was produced by McCain. And, by the way, stop it. The salt and starch are terrible for you.

It is also the home of the Potato World Museum, the only exclusively tuberous museum in the world, which also includes the Potato World Hall of Recognition. Tammy Fowler, shown here in front of the donor wall, runs the Museum and the adjacent restaurant. tammyShe gave me the whole story. Turns out that old man McCain was born here and started a potato company, turning out french fries. The business took off, and they have plants all over the world now. Tammy runs the non-profit museum and restaurant during the tourist season, and the rest of the year she and her husband haul produce all over Canada and the US, especially out west. As a result, she had the most curious and engaging accent that combined her Canadian roots and a western drawl. It was quite lovely. One cannot come to the French Fry Capital of the World without having french fries, so we enjoyed both regular and sweet potato fries:


Had I room, I would have ordered their Iced Chocolate Fries for dessert, or maybe their Iced Caramel Fries. The McCain lab is next door, and I got to wondering why a potato company needs a lab, but I didn’t want to think about that too much, and kept eating my fries. I know, I told you to stop eating your fries and here I am finishing mine. But these are the best in the world so get over it. Or come to Florenceville-Bristol.

That was originally going to be the end of the post, but then I saw an article in the national newspaper Globe & Mail highlighting the hot water you get into when you marry potato money. Canada is in the middle of tax reform, and the tax proposal of head tax dude and finance minister, Bill Morneau, would hit small businesses but shield family trusts and corporations from increases. You’ll never guess who is a beneficiary of such trusts and corporations. OK, you figured it out, but can you guess why? Morneau married Nancy McCain, and now has substantial wealth in a McCain family trust and various McCain corporations. So, eat the fries, but marry for love.

green pig.jpg

On the way out of New Brunswick, we stopped at the Green Pig Country Market and mega-marshmallow farm. I bought some butter tart squares, and asked the baker who came up that idea. “I did,” she said proudly. I asked to take a picture of her, and she turned me down. First time that’s happened. I am losing my touch.

Why the name “Green Pig?” Daisy Lewis, born in 1911 and now passed on, started the place with husband Stewart. It was a busy and popular spot, where you could buy candies, odds and ends, and great pies. One day, according to the official Green Pig History, “Stewart came home with a whole bundle of sickly green paint. ‘It was on sale’ he said. So they painted the whole store with it, therefore the nickname ‘the Green pig.'”

OK, there is a logical flaw here, in that naming something a pig does not necessarily follow from painting that something green, but it does give me the opportunity to show a picture of the lovely Daisy who is no longer around to turn me down.


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