Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Recipes and Food

August 8, 2012

America: a patchwork of potato chip varieties

You say potato, I say pot-ah-toe ... chip. And that's just the start of it.

Though thin and flat may be the national standard — and bestselling variety — of this ubiquitous snack, regional and sometimes hyper-local preferences for different calibers of crunch, thickness, seasonings and endless other elements have created a surprisingly diverse culinary patchwork of chip styles around the country.

That's right — the chips you nosh in the Northeast could be wildly different than those savored in the South.

Midwesterners, for example, prefer a thicker, more substantial chip. Big, hearty chips also sell well in New England and the Rockies, though in the latter area those progressive mountain folk want theirs with artisanal seasonings. Southerners love barbecue flavor, chip industry executives say, but it needs to be sprinkled on thin, melt-in-your-mouth chips.

Southwestern states predictably go for bold and spicy. Local flavors — such as New Orleans Cajun and Mid-Atlantic crab seasoning — find their way onto chips in those places. And people all across the country, it seems, love a curly, shattering kettle chip.

"People like the potato chip they grew up with," says Jim McCarthy, chief executive officer at the Rosslyn, Va.-based Snack Food Association, a trade group that represents the many denizens of convenience store shelves. "There's a very strong brand recognition and brand loyalty to the chip you grew up with."

Potato chips are America's number one snack, according to the group's 2012 state of the industry report, and we spent $9 billion on them in 2010, 50 percent more than what we spent on the No. 2 snack, tortilla chips. More than half of those sales go to Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America, whose original thin, crispy chip is the top-seller. But hometown styles still claim their territory.

Text Only
Recipes and Food
Lifestyles
AP Video
A Woman Says She’s Obsessed with Being Prettier than Her Sister Banned Ingredients Dangers of Overcooked Meats A Bug-Based Diet? Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs Clean Green Drink Recipes for Earth Day! Cleaning Tips for Reducing Indoor Allergies New Procedure to Remove Keloid Scars Ice Cream Cleanse? An Incredible Weight-Loss Makeover Reveal An Incredible Weight Loss Makeover Can You Get Lice From Taking A Selfie? Three Warning Signs of Diabetes How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure Relief from Chronic Fatigue Hernia Risks Breakthrough Drug For Treating Hepatitis C Is Too Pricey For Patients Life coach teaches stress-busting meditations Coachella Drug Dangers Tips for Eating Healthy while Traveling
Seriously?!