|What exactly are “kettle chips,” such as those made by Boulder Canyon, our Top Pick Of The Week (see the previous post)? Let’s start at the beginning. Potato chips, invented in 1853 in Saratoga, New York, were originally called Saratoga chips. Chips got soggy quickly in the days before vacuum packaging (or even airtight bags), and needed to be purchased fresh. By the 1920s, every town in the U.S. had its own chip maker, or “potato chipper.” The chip maker sliced up potatoes and fried them one batch at a time in a small kettle. The continuous fryer was invented in 1929, creating tremendous economies of scale and driving most of the small, kettle cookers out of business. By the 1940s, automation had evolved to change much of America’s artisan food production into mass production, including potato chips. Potato farmers bred the natural sugars out of potatoes to accommodate mass production, because the natural, variable sugar content required individualized attention to know when the batch was done. The result: Chips like Lay’s and Wise, which sell many millions of bags a year, but are only a shadow of the former gustatory glory of the potato chip.||
The right chip is not just a good snacker: It creates sexy hors d’oeuvres. Photo courtesy of Kettle Brand chips.
|Today’s “kettle chips” are a return to the thicker, small-batch chips made with top ingredients (you can use some of the best brands to construct fancy hors d’oeuvres, as shown in the photo). While today’s “kettles” are fryers much larger than the original stovetop kettle, they are still small in comparison to mass-produced chips.
– Read more about potato chips in the Snacks Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
– Read the history of the potato chip (you’ll learn how the potato chip bag was invented—a technology breakthrough of the time)
– Fry your own kettle chips with this recipe.
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