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Three excellent potato chip specimens


Fat Guy
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The Utz potato chip company (www.utzsnacks.com) has long produced a range of potato chips beginning with a fairly generic line not much worth eating and extending all the way up to the Grandma Utz chips cooked in lard. Grandma Utz are probably my favorite chips, though they must be obtained perfectly fresh and eaten very quickly -- otherwise they'll be rancid.

Now, Utz has purchased a small chip maker in Connecticut, and I just received a sample courtesy of a friend. Thse are superb chips, extra well done (they are just this side of burnt), made from russet potatoes fried in cottonseed oil. They are being produced under the name "Utz Hanover Home Brand." They are not officially available on the Web site, but if you call you can get them to ship you some.

Another fabulous chip I've been eating lately comes from Troyer Farms (www.troyerfarms.com). Apparently this is the only potato chip manufacturer that grows its own potatoes. It makes a difference -- the chips have a more pronounced potato taste than any others I've tried. It's subtle -- if you don't focus you won't realize you're eating a great chip.

These are the three best chips I've had from a bag. Of course they can't compare to fresh potato chips. Has anyone ever tried the Chippery? I recall there was a Manhattan branch of this Canadian company, though I don't know if it's still open. Fresh potato chips made all day. Also a few of the steakhouses do fresh potato chips, as does the Seagrill (fried in duck fat).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I used to live about 30 miles away from the Troyer Farms plant, and if you were down wind, you could smell the potatoes from about a mile away.  It's a pretty amazing place, and it used to be a standard school field trip to get a tour of the place (although I think they no longer give tours).

One problem with those chips is that if you don't eat them all, they're so hygroscopic that on the second day, they taste as if someone has licked them all.  Yuck!

One final, but nonetheless interesting point about the plant, is that it is located across the street from a porn drive-in.  I haven't been in the area in 10 years, so I wouldn't be surprised if the drive-in is gone, but amazingly, you could actually see the screen somewhat from the road.  What a wonderful place for a 16-year old to pull off the side of the road!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Potato chips and pornography in the same place? That's basically my idea of heaven.

A correction: I'm told that the Utz/Hanover chips are made in peanut oil, despite the label saying cottonseed. Apparently it's just that the correct labels haven't yet been printed. They do have a hint of that peanut oil taste, so I believe it. Then again, I believed the label when it said cottonseed. Shows how much I know.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Many potatoe chip purists out there..not me! My favorite flavored chip, by far, is the Utz Chesapeake Crab chip, with the Old Bay seasoning. This is a superior food product.  I am only a potato chip purist ( no flavoring)when it comes to  a chip for dipping.. then I prefer my Breakstones Sour cream and Lipton's onion soup mix to grace a plain chip.

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No purist here either, and with my penchant for things spicy you know I've got to go with the Blairs Death Rain Habanero potato chips.  Blairs Hotsauce company contracted out to the Rt. 11, NC. potato chip co. to produce these scorchers!

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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What, if anything, ever happend to Charles Chips. I have vague memories of these being tasty. Actually, we got potato chips so infequently that they could have sucked and still tasted like manna from heaven to my sister and me. Also, they sold the perfect size tin of chocolate chip cookies (oil drum size). And home delivery as well.  

Most important things in a chip to me are that I don't end up with half a bag of crumbs and chip dust, and that they're not too salty (are you listening Wise?). I like the burnt kettle style effect too.

I haven't chipped since my pre-Atkins days so I don't know what's a good chip now. Also they don't sell UTZ (sounds like the call letters for a Bulgarian radio station) in the land of Bean and Cod, so I cannot comment on them.

As God is my witness, one day I will have onion dip made with Lipton Soup Mix on potato chips again.

Adam  

(Edited by abbeynormal at 4:44 pm on Aug. 28, 2001)

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Quote: from abbeynormal on 4:42 pm on Aug. 28, 2001

What, if anything, ever happend to Charles Chips. I have vague memories of these being tasty. (Edited by abbeynormal at 4:44 pm on Aug. 28, 2001)

Charles Chips were indeed the best.  I haven't seen 'em here in the Northeast for at least 7 or 8 years...

Believe it or not, those silly "French Bistro" chips from that monster Frito Lay are actually good.  I doubt anything like them was ever served in a French Bistro, but they are worth trying if you haven't had them.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Charles Chips are still available by mail, I think. The company maintains an active Web presence at www.charleschips.com

I never thought they were that great -- all I taste is the oil -- but they're definitely a top pick for many.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If you're sleeping quietly and all of a sudden out of nowhere a fried chicken drumstick whacks you across the nose, you'll know who was behind it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Several of the NJ Shop Rite stores carry Charles Chips, the West Caldwell location had them the other day in large and XL sizes.

They have the Grandma Utz kettle cooked chips (ũ.69?)

When we had our multi-chip blast-off at work, the winner was a supplier from Louisiana with a habanero salsa chip. Maui chips came in second, Grandma Utz kettle was third.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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The best chip I've tasted is the locally produced Kettle Chip (local for me means down I-5 a bit to Salem, Oregon). The biggest difference from other potato chips is the use of russet potatoes instead of white-skinned 'chipping' varieties. The russets have more sugar and caramilize nicely..add to that a small batch production, use of expeller-produced oils, and a nice range of flavor options (including my current fav', a ruffled chip with salt and black pepper), and they're hard to beat.

Not sure how far east they distribute, though.

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 5 weeks later...
Quote: from jhlurie on 11:23 pm on Aug. 28, 2001
Quote: from abbeynormal on 4:42 pm on Aug. 28, 2001

What, if anything, ever happend to Charles Chips. I have vague memories of these being tasty. (Edited by abbeynormal at 4:44 pm on Aug. 28, 2001)

Charles Chips were indeed the best.  I haven't seen 'em here in the Northeast for at least 7 or 8 years...

Believe it or not, those silly "French Bistro" chips from that monster Frito Lay are actually good.  I doubt anything like them was ever served in a French Bistro, but they are worth trying if you haven't had them.

Shame on Frito-Lay for producing these chips! It's impossible to buy a bag without eating them all in one sitting! (And say what you want about "that monster" Frito-Lay, but at least they pledge to not use genetically-engineered ingredients in their products.)

I will say, however, that my three current faves are: Terra Blues Creme Fraiche and Dill, Olive Oil Chips Trio, and Terra Chips Red Bliss. (They all contain less fat than regular chips - supposedly - but that isn't the main consideration here.)

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Kettle Chips also distribute to the UK, but in different flavors than in the US.  I tried a couple of different kinds last time I was in London, including Mature Cheddar & Burgundy and Salt and Malt Vinegar.  They were good.  I like flavored chips when they aren't in X-TREME flavors.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I too noticed Kettle Chips last time I was in London. They were quite welcome, because I've never been able to understand most British snack foods. Like, it's impossible to get a normal bag of pretzels. They're always flavored with strange stuff. I think I looked on the Kettle Chips bag and saw that they were produced locally there. Mamster did you notice that?

That being said, I think Kettle Chips are pretty good but not at the apex of the chip hierarchy. That style of chip -- similar to Cape Cod, New York Deli, etc. -- has always seemed to me to have too much of an oil taste. I prefer a more balanced chip.

Oh my gosh, that was a very geeky thing to say about potato chips. "I prefer a more balanced chip." Yikes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Charles Chips are available in the tin again. They are all over Jersey and some parts on NY. They are distributed by Hillside Snack Foods in North Arlington, NJ (who also carry the Terra chips and the new Frites, which are also pretty good).

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I've been favoring Olive Oil potato chips lately, since its true that being cooked in Olive Oil makes pretty much anything taste better. :)

Simple chips with large amounts of cracked black pepper and maybe a small amount of salt are the best.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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  • 4 months later...
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