Taste Test: Ohio's potato chips
If that story sounds too close for comfort, then why not consider, at least occasionally, buying potato chips made in-state? It's really easy, especially as Ohio is -and has been for many, many decades -a veritable hotbed for making these All-American knock-'em-back snacks.
As a bonus, buying Ohio chips not only limits your fossil fuel footprint, but it also helps support small regional companies battling for shelf space against major players intent on releasing ever-expanding lines of flavors and products. I recently rounded up a few bags of made-in-Ohio potato chips (I limited myself to "unflavored" varieties) and came away with these observations.
Brand: Gold'n Krisp (4.5/5)
Chipping since: 1963
Packaging style: Sort of '50s mod (or neo-constructivist - depending on your politics), with bold gold, red and white
Packaging promise: Internationally known; kettle cook'd
Fried in: Soybean shortening and/or lard
Tasting notes: Lard was a blissfully apparent ingredient and it lent these sturdy chips a nice pie-crust-like "meatiness." These ranked No. 1 overall in this bunch for their high ratings in crunch (best) and potato flavor (second best).
Brand: Shearer's (4/5)
Chipping since: 1974
Packaging style: Contemporary, with a big and glossy photo of a burger ringed by chips
Packaging promise: Perfection in every bag
Fried in: Soybean shortening
Tasting notes: These curly chips had the best potato flavor and a pleasant crunch, and might've tied for No. 1 if not for the slight residue of grease left in the mouth after chomping a few.
Brand: Ballreich's (3/5)
Chipping since: 1920
Packaging style: Straightforward and symmetrical, with lots of purple and red
Packaging promise: Bursting with potato taste
Fried in: Soybean shortening
Tasting notes: These "marcelled" (ridged) and salty chips had a decent potato flavor but veered too far to the greasy side.
Brand: Mike-Sell's (2.5/5)
Chipping since: 1910
Packaging style: University of Dayton Flyers' red and blue used in a sort of '70s-looking aesthetic
Packaging promise: They are delicious; 0 grams trans fats; all-natural
Fried in: Vegetable oils "enhanced with premium peanut oil"
Tasting notes: These thin-side medium crunchers weren't overly salty or bad, but they stood out mostly for a flavor of peanut oil.
Brand: Conn's (2/5)
Chipping since: 1935
Packaging style: Old-timey and patriotic with a photo of a bowl of chips and lots of red, white and blue
Packaging promise: Delicious
Fried in: A mix of vegetable oil shortenings
Tasting notes: These salty, super-light and even mouth-meltingly evanescent chips were flagrantly greasy and the biggest leavers of an oral film residue.
Brand: Grippo's (2/5)
Chipping since: 1919
Packaging style: Flashy and fanciful with a surreal potato-headed chef
Packaging promise: No preservatives
Fried in: A mix of vegetable shortenings
Tasting notes: These partially skin-on chips were unabashedly greasy but, except for their whimsical packaging, not particularly distinctive.
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