Credits: Stéphane Lafrance
Video of Jean Provencher, owner of the dairy “Laiterie de Coaticook”, talking about some of the company’s innovative products which are still very popular. The video includes photos both of the inventors of the “Vison blanc” cocktail and of an advertisement for it, and photos of some other products, such as “Le P’tit Velours” and “Old-fashioned Iced Milk”.
The drink, Vison blanc, (meaning “the white mink”) was invented because of the milk festival; the festival sponsored an annual competition to encourage innovation. Members of the population were invited to create a cocktail with milk as an ingredient, as a way to include more milk in drinks, and it became a sort of highlight of the Festival. So at first, the event went well. In the first years of the Festival,
[The inventors of “Vison blanc”, Fernand Houle and Émile Provencher, surrounded by family members, in the middle of making the cocktail]
the owners of the dairy, back then, were Fernand Houle and my father. One Saturday morning, I wasn’t very old then, I was at the dairy and I watched them make it. They started with a mix of ice cream. Mr Houle, he knew more about mixing drinks,
[Back to Jean Provencher]
began to try different mixes, and taste them, and so they invented the “Vison Blanc” which became the cocktail of the Festival that year. Over the years there were other competitions, but eventually the Vison Blanc did become the official drink of the Festival.
[Container appears of “P’tit velours”, the precursor of their frozen milk product]
Iced milk…that happened at the end of the 90’s, in ’99 to be precise, according to my old recipes that I turned up. Well…the competition used to make iced milk, but they stopped making it.
[Screen back to Jean Provencher]
So there was a demand for it, but no iced milk, the competition’s not making it anymore…It’s a market the big companies had dropped. Well, it might be small for them, but it’s a big market for us. So we took the opportunity to take a look a iced milk, at how to produce it. At that time we were trying to understand which consumers to target, what segment of the population would like that particular product. Since I was developing a new product, I decided I might as well surround myself with nutritional experts. I met with dietician Suzanne Roy at the Coaticook Hospital, who has since passed away, and that’s when I began to learn about calories, the percentage of fat, the percentage of protein, and how all those things make up the nutritional aspect.
[The Old Fashioned Iced Milk container appears in the background]
We’re proud of our iced milk because it’s a product that can be misunderstood; in the 80’s when the fashion was all for low-fat, there were a lot of products, but people ate them for health reasons, it was almost like a punishment. So, our iced milk, we made a product that was, and still is, mistaken for ice cream because of its sweetness and creaminess. And no one thinks it’s a punishment to eat Coaticook Iced Milk!