Chips Are More Than Common-Taters
Food columnist Bob Leo takes a look back at the colorful history of America's favoriter snack food.
I happened to read that 96 million tons of potato chips were consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
I thought just how many chips do we go through a year ? and how many potatoes does that take? Well I found the answer differs pending on what side of the junk food war you side with.
What I did learn though, is potato chips make up 35 percent of the “snack food” category in all the English speaking countries. That’s not to say only English speaking people eat chips. The Japanese take chips to a whole new culinary level. Many seafood flavors, including seaweed and sea urchin are added to their potato chips.
In England and the British Isle countries chips are what we call fries, and crisps are what we call chips. You’d get chippies with your sandwich in Australia and wafers in India. In fact the potato chip industry generated 46 billion dollars in revenue world wide last year alone.
The story goes that in 1853 a surly customer in a Saratoga Springs resort by the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt constantly complained to Chef George Crum about the soggy flavorless fried potatoes that were served with his lunch. Being the temperamental Chef he was (some things never change!) Chef Crum slivered a potato, deep fried it to a crisp and dosed it with salt.
Contrary to Chef’s expectations, Mr. Vanderbilt loved them. Thus the potato chip was born.
In 1908, the Tri-Sum Potato Co. of Leominster was the first to mass produce chips. Generally they were shipped in barrels and scooped out at the local grocery store. It was Laura Scudder who discovered she could iron waxed paper into the shape of a pouch and staple the top and thus reduce breakage and crumbs. This method was adopted by Mike-Sells Potato Chip Co. in Dayton OH. Mikes holds the claim of the oldest existing potato chip company in America established in 1910.
So there you have it. The next time your chip breaks off in your dip, don’t sweat it. There’s plenty more where that came from.