April used to simply be the month that followed March, promising little more than showers and, depending on the year, a visit from the Easter bunny. And in most places, showers and Easter bunnies are still April’s biggest claims to fame. Except, of course, on a tiny island in Eastern Canada, where April’s beefed up its profile big time.
Today, it’s impossible to visit Prince Edward Island during the month without hearing about, seeing and, undoubtedly, experiencing the epicness of Burger Love. Indeed, as this month-long culinary competition enters its nineth year, Islanders as well as mainlanders with a hunger to cross ‘the bridge’ for this unparalleled odyssey are talking and dreaming burgers.
Fresh Media, the creative agency that dreamed up Burger Love, has witnessed their beefy campaign grow by leaps and bounds year over year. It all started when the husband-wife couple behind Fresh Media, Robbie and Melody Dover, decided to take a road trip across the Island in search of their favourite burger. One burger led to another then lo and behold, the idea for Burger Love was born.
In its first year, 2011, Burger Love featured 14 participating restaurants and racked up sales of 5,517 Burger Love burgers. In 2018, Burger Love saw 85 restaurants across the Island vie for the coveted title of “Most Loved Burger”. By the end of the month over 180,000 burgers had been sold and a winner had been crowned – the Pilot House with their creation, the One-Eyed Jack!
The friendly competition for burger adulation brings out the best in PEI’s chefs and restaurateurs who conjure up impressively inventive burger creations to woo customers and win their praises Everything from unique ‘buns’ (ice cream sandwiches have made the list!) to secret in-house sauces, and unusual toppings are to be expected. The star of the show, however, is always the beef and burger lovers can be assured that every Burger Love creation is made with 100% Island beef.
With so many burgers to choose from each year, experiencing Burger Love has become something of an art form – requiring a balance of creative planning and last-minute flexibility. With several years of Burger Love experience under their belts, here are some words of wisdom from a few Islanders that have perfected the Art of Burger Loving:
Chef Ilona Daniel, Food Seductress – “When it comes to maximizing burger loving, make it super social; reconnect with friends you keep meaning to connect with, as well as those you work and play with on the regular. Also, make time for a digestive stroll post burger loving; it’s all about balance!”
Shannon Courtney, Co-Founder of Salty – The Island’s Food Digest – “Timing is crucial. A lot of restos are slammed during Burger Love, so going during mid-afternoon for a late lunch or early/late evening for dinner is a wise move, especially if you’re doing a crawl or in a time crunch.”
Heidi Zinn, Executive Director of Discover Charlottetown – “Do a burger crawl with friends and plan to split each burger in halves or quarters, so you can experience more of them.”
Rod Weatherbie, Assistant Concierge, The Great George Hotel – “Don’t order sides. Just get the burger. Sides are a distraction (special dispensation for a side that may be an integral part of the experience like the tiny milkshake The Brickhouse included with their burger last year).”
Ashley Green, Co-owner of Local Legends and Paynter & Co. – “I highly recommend you use the “burger claw” when eating your burger. This is where you use both thumbs and pinkies to hold the bottom of the burger. The remaining three middle fingers are used to hold the top of the bun in place. This helps to ensure that less of its beefy innards end up on your plate instead of their rightful place – your mouth!”
Of course, whatever you do, just be sure you wear your burger pants and have fun!!