There’s no doubt that French Fries are a popular fast food enjoyed not just here in the U.S, but around the world. But what most people don’t know is where they originate from; and that’s right here in the County. French fries are a multi-billion dollar international industry and it all started with a man named O.P. Pierson of Caribou who invented the frozen french fry back in 1947. Now his hometown plans to recognize that through a series of celebration days.
The Caribou Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Kathy Mazzuchelli said, “He was born in 1906 here in Aroostook County, went to MIT, brilliant man got a degree in electrical engineering and aeronautical engineering and ended up being in the food industry.”
Pierson also enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was commissioned by the US Army to come up with a process to dehydrate potatoes to feed troops, and the frozen french fry was born! He spent some time working as a plant engineer for the H.C. Baxter Company of Hartland; but never forgot his roots.
The Caribou Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Kathy Mazzuchelli said, “He actually left HC Baxter, moved back to Caribou, and decided that he wanted to work with the local farmers, he was instrumental in bringing Bird’s Eye to Caribou to be able to do production in Caribou to aid the local farmers, he worked with them on developing the first mechanical prototype of the potato harvester. It’s amazing the things that the man did, remained humble it was never about the money it was always about helping and serving the people that he grew up with here in Aroostook County.”
Pierson went on to invent the shallow fat fryer, the potato washer, and the steam peeler to name a few. He also designed the first French fry plant for McCain Foods in Florenceville, New Brunswick. His lengthy list of accomplishments have gone down in agrarian history; and the city of Caribou is going to recognize that through a series of “OP Pierson celebration days.”
The Caribou Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Kathy Mazzuchelli said,
Carbiou City Manager Austin Bleess said, “Having a great historical figure like OP Pierson be from Caribou, Maine is very awesome, the fact that we’re able to celebrate him this year and promote Caribou, promote OP Pierson it’s just awesome for the community to have something to rally around.”
The Caribou Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Kathy Mazzuchelli said, “The rest is history, when you go out and they ask you if you want a side of fries who would ever think you gotta bring it back to Caribou, Maine? Because that’s really where it came from.”
Pierson passed away in 1993, but he left his mark with french fries that are eaten around the world everyday.
OP Pierson Celebration days are scheduled for the 26th, 27th, and 28th of this month in Caribou. The full line up of events is available on the Caribou City website at cariboumaine.org