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


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