June 21, 2010
Just in case yesterday's main event, the Sardine Museum, was not to your taste, today we offer a food museum we are sure you will enjoy—the Covered Bridge Potato Chip Factory Tour and Museum, in Hartland, home of the world's longest covered bridge (more on that later).
The Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company is owned by two generations of the Albright family, who grow 500 acres of potatoes on their farm nearby. Their factory makes kettle cooked potato chips in sixty pound batches, and we could look through big windows to view the factory floor, seeing every step of making a batch of chips, from trimming the potatoes by hand and feeding them into the slicing machine hopper, to seeing the thin slices dump into the big oil vat and be fried for six minutes, to their trip on an assembly line where inspectors pulled out the bad ones, to the place where they are blown into a bag with nitrogen (to extend shelf life and keep the chips from being crushed in transit) and sealed, then packed into cases to ship out.
We learned that four pounds of potatoes translates to one pound of potato chips, so we figured out that they make fifteen pounds of potato chips every six minutes, or 150 pounds of chips and hour. For perspective, the McCain Foods plant just up the road in
The Museum was full of interesting potato facts, beginning with a little potato history. Potatoes were first cultivated by Incas in
You may blanch to learn that the average American eats 140 pounds of potatoes per year, making it the second most consumed food (milk is #1). Potato chips are the #1 snack in
Which brings us to the most fun part of our tour. We were each given a bag full of hot potato chips fresh off the line, and walked out of the factory area to a long table with shakers of 31 different flavorings to sample on our chips. The flavors included lobster, chocolate (yum), vanilla espresso, pizza, pickle, orange, s'more . . . you get the idea. We each tried at least twenty different flavors, and my favorite was spaghetti, Dick's was loaded baked potato. We got to vote for our favorites and suggest any flavor ideas for them to add to the line-up. Call us unimaginative, but we could think of nothing appetizing that they hadn't already tried.
Our next stop was the
Most of our roadside attractions this trip have been larger than life, but in New Carlisle, Quebec, we found their fire hydrants, painted as fanciful cartoon characters, were enchanting. We turned around several times for second looks at the 30 or so hydrants which line Route 132, the scenic coastal highway that passes through this little town of 1,430 people.
We are staying for two nights in the charming Manoir de Perce, in a room with a view of Perce Rock and