Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Let's Talk Chips



Well, believe it or not potato chips were created before the civil war. In 1853 George Crum, a chef at a posh restaurant in New York made them to get even with a customer who was complaining that his French-cut potatoes were too thick. George cut the potato paper thin and browned it in oil. It was an instant smash hit.

George evenutally opend up his own restaurant that featured the chips. He had to peel and cut all those potatoes by hand because the mechanical potato peeler wasn't invented until the 1920's.

The chips remained popular mostly in the North. Back then the country was so divided that there was little sharing back and forth of recipes and such. But a travelling salesman from Tennessee changed the fate of the potato chip. He was travelling up North and tasted a potato chip and fell in love right there on the spot. He was so enthusiastic about the chips that he packaged them up and sold them from the trunk of his car all the way back down to Tennessee. Soon most of the country was crunching on this thin salty snack because of him. His name was Herman. Herman Lay.

Americans eat more potato chips than any other nation in the world. It wasn't always this way. Way back in Colonial England they used to grow potatoes strictly to feed their pigs. They thought the potato held a special secret formula that, once consumed by humans, became a powerful aphrodisiac. And you know how those New Englander's felt about that kind of thing back then. A big no-no kind of activity.

I think that myth might hold some truth, considering the amount of passion our customers exhibit while enjoying our PotatoFinger potato chips.

Feeling Frisky,

Abigail, Potato Chip Girl

Monday, February 06, 2006

Some Spud Stuff I Know


I'm becoming somewhat of a spud expert. It's happened gradually during my tenure here at PotatoFinger. At first I made myself busy eating the chips and enjoying all those flavors. Sour Cream and Onion is my personal favorite but sometimes, in the late afternoon after a nice cup of tea, I'll open a Lightly Salted and it just hits the spot.

Once I mastered the full eating enjoyment of the four flavors I began to get interested in the potato itself. These chips are so authentic, so, well, potatoey, that I wanted to know more.

I thought it odd we didn't get our potatoes from Idaho. "But that's the potato capital of the world." I protested to the Big Boss. Apparently I had been misinformed. Idaho is the Baking Potato Capital of the World. We don't use baking potatoes for chips. Baking potatoes are those long, football shaped potatoes you buy from the produce section at the market. Chipper potatoes are the cute little round ones and they thrive in the East Coast growing conditions.

We follow the chipper potato growing season (I didn't even know there was a growing season, but it starts on April Fool's Day, which I think is fabulous because it's my family's favorite holiday), from Florida up through the Carolina's to Ohio. We get loads of potatoes from Ohio (see previous blog for details and a picture of those good looking farmers). By late Fall we get our potatoes all the way from Minnesota and through the Winter, while the fields lay dormant, we get our spuds from a controlled growing enviroment (kind of like a greenhouse) in Michigan.

There are a couple of bad things that can happen to a potato while it's growing. Two of the biggest bad boys are worms and sweating. Worms cause what's called a hollow heart in the potato and sweating is when the sun makes the potato too hot and it sweats off its weight. And let's be honest here, nobody wants a skinny potato. Our farmers use a natural pesticide of ground up stones to combat the worm problem. No one has figured out a way to boss the sun around.

Once the potatoes are harvested, sorted and cleaned they are gently placed in a truck and taken to the chip factory where they are sorted and cleaned again. You can bet you get a good clean chip by the time you open your bag. It takes about three pounds of potatoes to make one pound of chips. There are approximately five potatoes in a pound. So if you're good at math you figured out that there are about fifteen potatoes in a pound of chips. Don't get all fat-frantic about that though. In our 2.5 ounce bag of chips you are eating about, well, I'm not all that good at math but if you figure it out, post it for the number challenged rest of us. I'm certain I'm not eating fifteen potatoes when I eat my daily bag of chips because I'm skinny, and skinny people don't eat fifteen potatoes a day.

So this is some spud stuff I know.
Abigail, The Potato Chip Girl

Friday, February 03, 2006

Oh My Gosh



You aren't going to believe what happened. A man named Allen Kurzweil wrote a book about a potato chip. (See picture at left for visual). We are all excited about it because It's called Leon and the Champion Chip. Well, the Big Boss is named Leon. We all felt very strongly that this was destiny.

So the Big Boss contacted Allen and they chatted about potato chips and all manner of things and then something really exciting happened.

Here's what the Big Boss and Allen discovered:

Leon's (Big Boss) dad's name is Napoleon: a character in Allen's book

Napoleon's mom's name was Emma: a character in in Allen's book

Big Boss's last name is Stoltz, a character in Allen's previous book: The Grand Complication, was Stolz

oh my gosh...creepy.

So they both got chill bumps and felt they were twins seperated at birth and all that. Then Allen was invited to an interview with Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation on NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO. This was big. This was gigantic. Allen not only talked about his love and interest in potato chips, but HE ATE A BAG OF OUR CHIPS ON THE AIR. You can hear him yourself at www.npr.org. So now we spend our days listening to Allen enjoy our potato chips and this makes us feel warm and good inside.

And now we're offerring Allen's cool book, Leon and the Champion Chip on our website. Just click 'home' and you'll find out all about it. The world feels small and cozy now. Cheers to PotatoFinger Potato Chips and to Leon. Both of them.

Abigail, Potato Chip Girl