Regional Potato Chip Brands the Whole Country Deserves
> Home state: Michigan
Better Made was founded in 1930 in Detroit, a city that was once something of a potato chip capital, home to more than 40 local brands. Besides plain chips, the product line includes BBQ, Red Hot, Sour Cream and Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and Sweet BBQ varieties. The company also produces Rainbow Chips — not an LGBTQ reference but the name of an old-style chip which turns dark in color during frying due to the sugar content of certain potato varieties. Though sales remain concentrated in Michigan, the chips are now sold in some 14 other states, mostly in the South and on the Eastern Seaboard.
> Home state: Georgia
This Atlanta-based company initially sold only peanuts, but expanded into the potato chip business, using potatoes from their family farm. The line includes crinkle-cut offerings in Baby Back Ribs, Buffalo Wing Bleu Cheese, and Sweet n’ Tangy BBQ flavors and “home style” Cracked Pepper with Salt, Hot Sauce, and JalapeÃ±o chips. Brother Kane chips are sold almost exclusively in vending machines.
> Home state: Connecticut
Originally a family-owned brand based in the Connecticut town of Old Lyme, Deep River was bought two years ago by a Mexican firm, Arca Continental, which is one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in Latin America. The kettle-cooked chips, which advertise that they contain 50% less fat than conventional chips, are fried in small batches in sunflower oil. There are 18 varieties, including Black Truffle, New York Spicy Dill Pickle, and Ninja Ginger; five flavors are available exclusively at TJ Maxx stores.
> Home state: Pennsylvania
Launched in 1964 in Mark Dieffenbach’s kitchen in Womelsdorf, northwest of Philadelphia, the company now produces more than 250,000 pounds of kettle-cooked chips a week. The 16 varieties include the usual Bar-B-Q, Sour Cream & Onion, and JalapeÃ±o options, as well as hand-cooked plain chips “given personal attention by one of our skilled craftsmen,” Sweet Ghost Pepper chips, and four varities of Uglies — “crafted from potatoes with minor imperfections.” A second brand owned by the company, One Potato Two Potato, is available nationally and internationally, but as much as 90% of the Dieffenbach’s output is sold in Pennsylvania.
The Drunk Alpaca
> Home state: Connecticut
Established in 2016 by two women who met while working at Whole Foods in Darien (one of them grew up on an alpaca farm), The Drunk Alpaca is a bakery in Shelton, just west of New Haven. Their product line includes brownies, blondies, beer nuts, and pretzels as well as cakes, pies, etc., along with a unique selection of potato chips. Available in Sea Salt, BBQ, Herb, Rosemary, and JalapeÃ±o versions, the chips are all glazed with a reduction of regional craft beer
(an ever-changing selection) with honey and butter. The chips are small, very crisp, dark, and difficult to find even in their home state (but available by mail order).