I’ve heard lots of good things about Middleswarth Potato Chips, hailing from Middleburg, PA. (Where are these little towns, exactly? The same ones, I hope and fear, that will decide our next president on Tuesday. Chipmakers for Obama!!!) Anyway, I was disappointed in these chips in that they were cooked in vegetable shortening – a cooking method of which I’m just not a fan. It renders – literally -- the chip somewhat soggy, greasy in a heavy way, and weak in its crunch. That being said, these chips were better than some vegetable shortened chips, care was obviously put into their creation, and they were lovingly packaged by a family-owned company. For those reasons, then, I would recommend a bag of Middleswarth on anyone’s tour of Pennsylvania’s vast chip-making land.
Somewhat surprisingly, New York City holds a dearth of interesting or unique potato chip brands. It is good for, however, the odd international chip, and I was excited to find Denise Snacks potato chips in a supermarket in Brooklyn. Hailing from Brazil, and sold with the help of a frightening cartoon mascot, these “papa frita ondulada” are TERRIBLE! Yes, they even list MSG in the ingredient list, in some sad, hopeful thinking that that evil flavor intensifier could help its limp chip. Furthermore, these chips are cooked in vegetable fat, which often leads to a weaker crunch and an inferior chip. Though I appreciate Denise Snacks’ availability in the five boroughs, its chips could barely even be called potato chips in fear of degrading that name.
Lord, I’ve found them. America’s best potato chips: Seyfert’s, made by Troyer Farms in the little town of Waterford, PA in the northwest corner of that potato chip rich state! Cursory research finds them to be America’s ONLY chip company that grows its own potatoes! And you can absolutely taste the difference. Fried in cottonseed and salted, there is nothing inherently exceptional about the ingredient list, though the impossibly flavorful product leads to speculation. Maybe the fact that those potatoes went nowhere but from the ground directly into the fryer makes all the difference. These are sustainable chips for a more reasonable time: No fossil fuels required, no distance traveled before the chips were packaged. In a way, then, they are fresher than any chips claiming to be cooked on the spot, for really can something freshly deep-fried really be considered fresh at all? Though a just unearthed, localized potato instantly deep-fried and then packaged could reasonably called fresh. Seyfert’s, along with, confusingly, brother brand Dan Dee (confirmed by a Troyer Farms rep to be the exact same product) are to me the freshest chips in the land, but more importantly they are simply the best tasting. DO NOT MISS THIS CHIP!
Chicagoland’s most famous chips, Jay’s, went into bankruptcy late last year and its local plant closed, leaving the future of the chip unclear and 220 employees out in the Chicago cold. In an act of corporate solidarity to save an historic chip, Snyder’s of Hanover purchased the company and the legendary chips have stayed on the shelf, at least for the time being. Jay's motto is justly “can’t stop eating ‘em.” I wasn’t hungry when I plowed into a bag, and I found myself, a mere five minutes later licking the last lonely crumbs off my disgusting, calloused fingers. The chips are fantastic; simple, cooked in 100% corn oil, with the right amount of salt, and sliced to the perfect thickness, they are some of the country’s best chips, and it will be a sad day if indeed they are no more. Save Jay’s!
The gritty, anachronistic charm of Booche’s in Columbia, Missouri is exemplified in its attention to little details: The ancient, intact score-keeping wires above the pool tables, the pint sized bathroom with no sink for hand-washing, in the transcendent little burgers they churn out hourly, whose quality and haste mock anything labeled “fast food” in the area, and in the availability of the hopelessly regionalized Backer’s chips, as accompaniment to the burgers. The chips’ simple, old world packaging anticipates the product within: A thin, no nonsense chip. Not extraordinary in taste, their mere existence is worth noting; Bill Backer has kept with his family business for the better part of 70 years. Where 30 years ago Missouri hosted 25 potato chip companies, today Backer’s is its sole representative. The sad reality of such tenacity means selling your chips to other companies that re-brand them as their own. While such deception is just another reason to despise the Wal-marts of the world, the availability at all of the historic Backer’s chips is one reason to rejoice at what we still have, as we slip and fall into (knock, knock, knock on wood) the Obama years.
ok - so i can't disclose what i do for a living or who my client is but just know that today it involved a lot of THESE. they're crispy, flakey, good texture but hey, i just can't get into health-ier chips. if i could re make them, i'd add some packets of low calorie, low sodium flavor like ketchup, or baked chicken or even onion powder. they're much too dry and tasteless without something to balance it out.