Friday, May 05, 2006

Chip Off the Ol'... er... Chip

As I was growing up, I developed a real craving for my afternoon snack fix. I could almost always resist the candy drawer, but the salty stuff? Bring it on!

On Saturday afternoons, the Chef Mother and I would often share a bowl of popcorn, sometimes made more flavorful with a dash of seasoned salt or by being popped in fabulously artery-clogging coconut oil or bacon fat. (Wouldn't touch it now, of course, but oh man!)

My other favorite was the humble potato chip -- no added flavors (I didn't indulge in those until later) and no dips (though I eventually came to appreciate those, too).

And in our household, one little-known brand reigned supreme: Ballreich's.

Made in a small factory in a small town in the northwest part of the state, not far from my grandmother's house, these chips were (and still are) the best ever. Somehow they manage to taste succulent and buttery, and if you're inclined to dipping, the marcelled (rippled) chips could stand up to the richest sour cream.

I had the chance to tour the factory when I was younger and was fascinated by the process of slicing, rinsing, and cooking the chips in what seemed to my eyes to be enormous quantities (though seeing the size of the big-name chip plant in my current hometown lets me know just how small an operation Ballreich's truly was). And when I got a free bag of chips at the end -- well, I didn't know it then, but they made a customer and a fan for life.

Unfortunately, living a couple of hours away, I no longer have the regular chance to indulge in my favorite because the company does not distribute their products widely. My Dear Papa informs me that there is one grocery in town that carries them, but as it's not within walking distance, I never remember to go there. And according to the company's web site, they do ship orders to customers at home and could even arrange monthly shipments for me (so tempting!).

But when I happen to find Ballreich's chips unexpectedly, I turn into a kid again and get unreasonably excited.

Thus it was that today, at a meeting of my professional state organization (for which I am an officer, no less), I earned the good-natured laughter of my colleagues by falling into raptures over a small bag of these incredible potato chips, included in the box lunch.

Naturally, I took the opportunity to explain my lifelong love affair with this snack -- as well as the importance of local foods. And do you know, I ended up as the grateful recipient of two extra little bags of chips: one from the group's chair and one from our generous hosts.

Oh, happy day! when a business meeting ends up in such simple delights and when I get to revisit an old friend.

I love it when my chip sails in!


At 9/29/2006 6:10 AM, Anonymous Andrew said...

I share your love of Ballreich's. I grew up in Tiffin and went to an elementary school that was located right next to the factory. When I was away at college, my parents would send me a bag of Ballreich's chips in the mail every now and then. Some times they would come to where I was living and bring Ballreich's, Roots chicken (for shredded chicken sandwiches), and Jolly's root beer. All were products that were made locally and not distributed very far. I am currently deployed to Iraq and I received a 4 lb. box of chips from my parents in the mail. While other people think they are good chips, they do not understand the fascination with the chips. I guess they will never understand.


At 9/29/2006 7:13 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks for sharing the memories, Andrew! Maybe it has to do with what you grow up with, but I'm with you... they're wonderful chips with just a little different something that sets them above all others in my book. Glad to hear that your parents have sent you a favorite taste of home while you're so far away... that must be a comfort to you.

Sending you best wishes and prayers for your safety!


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