And, the crazy thing is that I have never yet seen the potato chip making process. I have no clue how they make those delectable, tasty morsels.
Not until today, that is.
I called and scheduled a tour at Martin's Potato Chips in York, Pennsylvania, and now I am enlightened. I know how potato chips are made. I have experienced the incredible goodness of warm chips right off the line. And, I may have purchased some chips. Some popcorn, too. Oh yeah, and some fancy pretzels.
The tour started kinda on a low note, and then improved as it went. We were first taken outside of the facility to the area where potatoes are trucked in and unloaded. After a brief discussion of what kinds of potatoes are used in chip making, we moved to another area where the smell was nearly intolerable. If you've ever had a potato go bad, you will understand the stench I'm referring to. We were shown where the potato peels and waste leaves the building and is shot into bins which are hauled away in large dump trucks. Some of the waste is taken to use as feed for farm animals, and some is combined in an operation that makes potting soil.
|Potato waste leaving the building|
|Potato quality control|
After the potatoes pass by her, they are sliced and conveyed into the cooker. This kettle cooks the chips in 350 degree oil for several minutes.
|Sliced potato chips dropping into the kettle of oil|
|Chips are cooking in oil|
|The chips spreading out on the vibrator|
Next, the chips are taken by conveyor to pass under the salter. Very finely ground sea salt is used, as it sticks onto the chips better than table salt would.
|Leaving the vibrator and heading for the salter|
|Heading up the belt to the salter|
|Chips passing under the salter|
Here we see the chips being taken in "buckets" up and over into the packing room, where they will be weighed and packaged into bags and then into cartons.
|On the way to packaging|
While all those potato chips were being made, in another area of the production floor, one employee was busily making a flavored popcorn - Martin's Sweet and Salty.
|One of the four large hot air popcorn poppers|
|Loading twelve bags into each carton|
After a brief description about the color and other coding system on the Martin's cartons, our tour concluded and we were funneled back through the retail store.
It was a very interesting tour, and I'm finally glad I got to see how chips are made.
To me, any day with potato chips is a VERY GOOD day.