Honoring National Snack Food Month: Touring Herr’s Potato Chip Factory
I’m right there with you. You open the bag of chips. You peek inside. There’s 13 fucking chips in there. That’s it. Why so little chips? Why such an inflated bag?
I don’t know all of the answers, but I do know something that might infuriate you even more.
Yesterday I toured the Herr’s Snack Factory. If you live outside the Mid-Atlantic, you may not be familiar with the greatest brand of potato chips. You may actually enjoy Lays, you poor soul. (Or you’re on team Utz, another brand soaring from Maine to North Carolina, and then you probably lack a chromosome for identifying superior potato chips.)
Anyway, I learned a few things from the factory tour. On a personal level, my boyfriend and I realized we were the only potato chip lovers that weren’t either parents or 5 year olds.
On potato chip level, I learned:
- 4 pounds of potatoes yield 1 pound of potato chips.
- 1 inch of a potato yields 17 potato chips.
- It takes 6-7 minutes for a whole potato to turn into a chip.
- Brown spots on chips are a result of extra starch, which has then caramelized.
- Green spots on chips are a result of potatoes growing too close to the sun; the green means a sun burn.
Let’s get back to point #2. Cramming 17 chips from an inch of a potato is an incredible feat. This means when you inhale an entire (small) bag of potato chips you’re not even consuming a whole potato, just a third or fourth of one, depending on the starting size of the potato.
But then as I think about that feat, I realize how little potato is in each bag. Couldn’t they sacrifice another inch of potato for my bag? I want more potato chips!
As this internal dialogue banged across my head—just as I was about to raise hell about the lack of chips in each bag—our tour guide, Martha, pushed open the factory doors and brought us straight-from-the-machines two trays of warm, just salted potato chips.
My rage disappeared. Grease and salt filled my brain. And I was happy again.