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Flanders to give protected heritage status to frietkots

09:56 02/06/2023

Flemish heritage minister Matthias Diependaele is calling on all communes in Flanders to nominate which chip stands or ‘frietkots’ should be given protected status.

"Chip shops contribute to defining the urban landscape of our villages and towns," Diependaele (N-VA) said. "Some are so iconic for our chip culture, that they must be preserved."

“I want to ensure that the Flemish local authorities get involved in identifying the most historic chip shops,” the minister explained. “Of course, we cannot protect them all. We will only choose the real little gems.”

His call comes as Professor Yves Segers of the Center for Agricultural History at KU Leuven told Radio 2 that at the end of the 1950s there were 20,000 chip shops in Flanders, but today there were no more than 5,000.

Various levels of Belgian government have aimed to change this situation. In 2014, the Flemish community recognised that ‘frietkot culture’ was ‘intangible cultural heritage’, followed by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in 2016 and the German community and Brussels Region in spring 2017.

Now the Flemish Heritage Agency is assessing which frietkots could be recognised as monuments in the same way that churches or castles are.

To be seen as ‘historic’, the chip stand must have a certain tradition and have been in existence since 1985 or earlier. Other selection criteria include where the chip stand is situated and what the view is like from the stall itself.

Meanwhile, on 28 August, the Belgian postal service Bpost will introduce a limited edition of stamps paying homage to chip culture, followed by an official festive launch at Bruges’ Chip Museum on Saturday 2 September.

This collection of five stamps with photographs of chip shops of the past comes in a special pack that can be folded into a mini chip shop.

Written by Liz Newmark