W.A. Bean, based in Bangor, makes red hot dogs — an iconic Maine treat, found on grills statewide all summer. They also sell hams, poultry, high-quality steaks and plenty of other meat products — but there’s one item W.A. Bean makes that, while not quite as popular as their hot dogs, certainly has a niche market.
Since about 2006, W.A. Bean has been one of only a handful of U.S. producers of haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s heart, lungs and liver, stuffed into a sheep’s stomach along with oats, onions and salt.
“Scottish haggis isn’t allowed by the USDA to be imported into the U.S., so we have to make it here,” said David Bean, president of W.A. Bean. “Ours is a little different from what they make in Scotland, since we can’t use lungs here, or the stomach casing. But other than that, it’s pretty close to what they have there.”
W.A. Bean was contracted by McKean’s of Scotland, a haggis producer and distributor, to make the pudding-sausage hybrid, thanks to Scottish history and culture enthusiast Ron Thurston of Falmouth, who connected the two companies. Nearly six years after the first haggis rolled off the W.A. Bean production line, Bean got an interesting phone call from a very big consumer — Disney.
“[Disney’s] Pixar wanted to buy a whole bunch of haggis from us to serve at the premiere party for the movie ‘Brave,’ which is coming out soon,” said David Bean. “It’s definitely the biggest thing to happen to us with our haggis. It’s a really big deal.”
Pixar will serve up several hundred pounds of the Scottish dish at its Hollywood premiere for “Brave,” set for Friday, June 18, catered by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. “Brave,” set to be released in theaters on June 22, tells the story of fictional Scottish princess Merida, who must defend her clan from a curse.
If there’s a summertime craze for all things Scottish, you can thank Pixar — and hope that W.A. Bean will have a run on haggis for the foreseeable future.
“We definitely sell the most haggis in January, right before Burns Day,” said Bean, referring to the celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns every Jan. 25. “So this is kind of out of season for us, but we’re thrilled.”
W.A. Bean, continually operated in Bangor by the Bean family for 152 years, is located at 229 Bomarc Road. Its retail shop, located on site, is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and sells a variety of locally processed meat products. You also can order online at beansmeats.com.