Monday, December 10, 2007


CHiPsNo... this column isn't about Ponch and Baker.

It's about those thinly sliced potatoes, fried and salted into glorious perfection. Those things that have that k-k-k-k-runch when you bite them.

Believe it or not, I wasn't much of a chip fan as a child. Potato chips were always served with a cream cheese dip. I hated cream cheese as a child. I still do.

Classic Lays Commercial with Bert LahrWhat did intrigue me, though, were the Lays commercials. "Betcha can't eat just one!" I shrugged, and I took up the challenge. I was an expert in eating just one.

My parents moved early on from Lay's to Ruffles ("R-r-ruffles have r-r-ridges!") most likely because the ridged potato chips were more amenable to dipping. Not that I cared, mind you.

I lived my life, not needing nor wanting potato chips, for quite a few years. When I was in high school, however, I had a lot more freedom. Despite the fact that I lived far enough away from my school to take a bus, I preferred to walk to school. And between my home and the school was a rather large supermarket.

In tenth grade, I took somebody on a bet and I joined the junior varsity lacrosse team. This was a big sport in Long Island, and Brentwood (where I lived) had one of the best teams. On my way to school, I'd stop at the local Pathmark supermarket, and get some Gatorade. It was during those stops at the supermarket that I decided to get some chips--just to be different.

I think that was the first time that I could say that I actually liked potato chips. Before then, chips were something served at parties, and always accompanied by dip. Now, I was eating them on my own terms.

I also discovered Pringles (the "new-fangled" potato chips), and Munchos (potato "crisps" which were made with potato and corn for a crunchier taste) during high school. I had the makings of a potato chip junkie.

My biggest problem: eight ounce bags of potato chips were too much for me to eat alone. I ended up wasting most of the bag, and that wasn't something that appealed to me.

However, that Lay's promise--"Betcha can't eat just one"--started to haunt me.

It wasn't the Lay's brand, though. In college, I discovered the large tin containers of Charles' Chips. These had a different taste that I found nearly addicting. However, these tubs were much larger than the Lay's bags: I'd eat them at parties, when I was lucky enough to find a party with them. However, I'd never purchase them myself.

Cape Code Potato ChipsFast forward to after I moved to New England. There was a new type of potato chip in town: Cape Cod chips. These were kettle chips that were crunchier (if that were possible!) than most any other potato chips.

There was also the Granite State potato chip factory in my new home in Salem, NH. This was a chip that had more potato taste than others, and less salt than your typical potato chips. You could purchase a plastic bucket of chips, and then come back and get the bucket refilled. Everybody I knew loved those potato chips!

Anheuser Busch--the beer company--purchased Cape Cod potato chips, and if you visited their Merrimack facility (not too far from my house), they would serve them, or some other of their "Eagle Snacks" brand of snack items.

That Eagle Snacks brand line wasn't long lived with Anheuser Busch. They sold the brand, and eventually, Cape Cod chips were sold back to the original owners (and they apparently still own the brand).

Today, I seem to have gotten my chip addiction under control. I still eat them, but I am still happy with just a few.

My youngest daughter simply loves Lays classic potato chips. I prefer Lay's "Wavy" style of all of Lay's chips, although their kettle chips aren't bad. The rest of my family seems to like whatever is around.

I still like Munchos, but none of my family seems to like it as much as I do. I only have them occasionally, though. Pringles are still popular, but we don't seem to have them very often.

Thanks to BJ's Wholesale Club, I have place where I can get a box of forty-eight 1-oz packages of Cape Cod chips for when temptation strikes. They're small enough to consume without any waste. Those are my current source of chips for the near future.

At parties, though, I take whatever is there. Except for the dip, of course!

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