4 Canadian guys look for the best roadside french fries along the Trans-Canada highway

Four friends from Toronto have taken the Canadian experience one step further: They're driving across the country, taste-testing every roadside french fry along the way.

YouTube mini-series celebrates the Canadian highway and the people who serve up fries along the way

Four friends head out to find the best fries in Canada, with a distinctly National Film Board style. (YouTube)

If you're a Canadian, you've probably logged a few kilometres along the Trans-Canada highway.

Chances are you've probably stopped at a few chip stands along the way too.

Four friends from Toronto have taken the Canadian experience one step further: They're driving across the country, taste-testing every roadside french fry along the way.

The 'Trans-Canada Fryway' episodes are currently being released online, and it's hard not to recognize a distinct, retro-vibe found in a 1970s National Film Board video.

Having trouble viewing the video? Click here.

Fryway Canadiana 'needs to be documented'

Paul Parolin, one of the project's creators, says the group was inspired to make the videos as a way to celebrate the unique Canadian experience of driving the Trans-Canada highway.

"It is amazing that there is a highway that literally connects the whole country together. And we thought it didn't get the appreciation it deserves," Parolin told CBC News.

But Parolin and his friends knew the project needed to appeal to the masses.

The answer? French fries.

A sample of Freddies Fresh Cut Fries in Deep River. The three friends visited 54 chip stands in three weeks. (Trans-Canada Fryway)

"These awesome chip trucks [are] peppered all the way across this highway, serving up fries to all these hungry Canadians," he said.

So last August, the four friends took a 1974 Airstream trailer on the road, driving the entire portion of the Trans-Canada highway from the Quebec border to Kenora in northwestern Ontario.

In 'Trans-Canada Fryway,' four friends from Toronto journeyed from the Quebec border to Kenora in northwestern Ontario in search of the best roadside chip stand. This summer, they hope to drive the entire highway from sea-to-sea in honour of Canada's 150th birthday. (YouTube)

54 chip stands in three weeks

The friends visited 54 chip stands during the three week period, Parolin said.

Soon the plan to eat at five chip stands a day became a difficult task.

"We kind of learned that the hard way out [of] the gate. We got pretty sick of fries in the first week," he said.

Wes' chip truck in Arnprior, Ont. (Trans-Canada Fryway)

Veggies for nutrition, water for hydration

To keep their health up after consuming copious amounts of potato, oil, and salt, the group developed a system.

"We always had veggies in the truck ... and a lot of water to stay hydrated," Parolin said, adding they tried to space out fry-eating throughout the day.

"We were only splitting a small. Even that was enough to make you go a little crazy," he said.

The five factors of fry rating as established by the Trans-Canada Frywaymen. (YouTube)

Fries rated on 5 different factors

So did they find the best fries on their journey?

"We've created a system called the 'five-fryway fork' rating system," Parolin explained.

The factors, he said, include ambience, fry quality, gravy quality, service, and overall value.

"To date, in Ontario, only two have gotten a perfect 5 out of 5," he said, pointing to the Ye Olde Chip Truck in Kenora, Ont. and Wes' Chips in Arnprior, Ont.

The four friends inside their 1974 Airstream trailer. The group made sure to consume vegetables and water in between chip truck stops. (Trans-Canada fryway)

Fry people are 'salt-of-the earth'

Parolin said while the french fries were just the hook, the project is more about celebrating our huge country and the people in it.

"The real purpose of our adventure was to do what we believe should be a rite of passage for a lot of Canadians, which is just drive the highway and see all the cool places in between, and all the salt-of-the-earth people. Once we kind of got that added into our system, just pigging out on fries wasn't that hard anymore."

Larry's Chip Stand in Sturgeon Falls, Ont. The Trans-Canada Frywaymen asked chip stand operators to sign their 1974 Airstream trailor. (Trans-Canada Fryway)

Hoping to travel entire country

After the three-week trip through Ontario last summer, the four friends are hoping to raise enough funds to travel the entire TransCanada this 'fry season' in honour of Canada's 150th birthday.

"It's sort of a passion project at the moment," Parolin said.

You can check out the Trans-Canada Fryway project on Facebook and watch more episodes on YouTube.

Posing infront of the Big Nickel in Sudbury, Ont. (Trans-Canada Fryway)

Listen to Parolin's interview with CBC northern Ontario's afternoon show Up North here.


Marina von Stackelberg is a senior reporter at CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. She previously worked as a reporter and host in Winnipeg, with earlier stints in Halifax and Sudbury. Her stories regularly appear across the country on CBC Radio and CBC News Network. Connect with her by email at or on social media @CBCMarina.