faces are stickier, smiles are wider, moments are funner!
As a kid, growing up in Ottawa, it's a big deal when the Rideau Canal freezes over, and is open for skating. From skating the 7.8 kms, to playing some shinny hockey with friends, or checking out the ice sculptures during Winterlude, it was a spot where great childhood memories were made. Another thing it always meant was a fresh, delicious, sweet pastry, known as a BeaverTail, was in my very near future! There's really nothing better in the winter months than skating on a sunny day, and taking a break for a BeaverTail and one of their creamy hot chocolates (which of course has marshmallows on it!).
As the southern US is known for it's BBQ, or Italy for it's pasta, in Canada, we do BeaverTails! I had the pleasure of spending a day with the great crew of the original BeaverTail shack in the Byward Market, in Ottawa to talk about the pastry. Not going to lie, my 10 year old self was VERY excited for this feature visit! I met with Andy Cullen, and his great staff of Thuy, Todd, and James who answered everything I had always wanted to know about BeaverTails and much more. They even let me make a couple! Again, 10 year old me was totally geeking out!!
BeaverTails were created by Grant and Pam Hooker, in 1978. They attended the Killaloe Craft Fair and started selling the pastry, which was a take on something Grant's grandmother used to make on baking days. The treat was a huge success and after having another successful event the following year, they decided to take the business to the Byward market in 1980 and open the first retail location, followed by a second on the Rideau Canal. Now, in Ottawa, there are several fixed locations, and during Winterlude and skating season, several shacks can be found along the skateway.
So what exactly is a BeaverTail? It's a whole wheat, cracked wheat, yeasted pastry. For the first 8-10 years, the dough was made in the retail shack, but with the company growing, the dough is now made by BeaverTail bakers, and sent to the retail locations. The process of making a BeaverTail involves stretching the dough in width, then pulling it in length (it's amazing how stretchy the dough is!) and laying it in the fryer, flipping it often until it is golden brown. Then comes the sweet, delicious part! The BeaverTail is basted with melted butter, then topped with the customer's selected topping. Cinnamon Sugar, Killaloe Sunrise (cinnamon sugar with lemon), and maple (my personal favourite!) top the list of popular flavors. They also have some loaded up options, such as the Chocolate Banana, Avalanche, or the Triple Trip. There have been so many BeaverTails sold that they could be laid end to end, and would make a line from the westernmost to easternmost points of Canada, with pastries to spare! That's a trail I wouldn't mind walking.
As BeaverTails have grown in popularity, they have expanded their product line. You can now get BeaverBites (which are bite size pastry balls), a BeaverDog (a Nathan's hot dog, wrapped in a BeaverTail pastry), Moozoo ice cream and smoothie products, and of course their famous hot chocolate, topped with marshmallows.
This is a big year for BeaverTails, as they are celebrating their 40th anniversary! Stay tuned to their social media sites to stay in the know of how they plan on celebrating with all of you! For their 25th anniversary, they made a 6 foot BeaverTail, so I can't wait to see what they come up with for their 40th!
As I mentioned, BeaverTails are something uniquely Canadian, and is an official food of the Nation's Capital. So much so, that it is one of the 'must do' things for anyone visiting Ottawa, including the Prime Minister and his family, Hillary Clinton, and even President Barack Obama,who attended on his first official visit to Canada, and had a BeaverTail named after him (the ObamaTail). BeaverTails have been included in Barenaked Ladies song lyrics, and was an answer on the famous trivia show Jeopardy. While being proudly Canadian, BeaverTails can be found all over the world, with locations not only in North America, but in Japan and Dubai, among others.
BeaverTails may be a world famous now, but they don't forget where they came from. They have great fundraising initatives, as well as participating in World Food Day Fundraiser, and Hunger Week Awareness Campaign.
I had an absolute blast hanging out with Andy and his great team at BeaverTails in the Byward Market. These are people who have a passion for what they're doing, and are always smiling. So if you've never had a BeaverTail, find your nearest location, or even better, come to Ottawa and have one from the original shack! Tell 'em The Kid sent you.
- The Kid
For more info on BeaverTails, you can find them at www.Beavertails.com, or on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.