March 14 is National Potato Chip Day, and there may be no better salty snack to enjoy as part of the celebration than a local spud that’s been fried and seasoned to taste.
A few U.S. cities still have a locally produced potato chip, including Detroit with its iconic Better Made brand. Better Made has been in business since the early 1930s and continues to operate with the original owner’s family, the Ciprianos.
Here are some potato-chip facts to share on National Potato Chip Day. Some of these are from “Better Made in Michigan: The Salty Story of Detroit’s Best Chip,” a history book about Detroit’s chip-preneurs or chip manufacturers.
• The average potato chip is between .04 and .08 of an inch thick. Better Made chips were originally made to be about the thickness of a U.S. dime.
• Detroit was once home to between 20 to 40 potato-chip manufacturers of all sizes from family businesses to large companies such as New Era, Wolverine and Better Made.
• Approximately nine out of ten households in the U.S. consume at least one type of salty snack, with potato chips having the highest consumption level at 85 percent.
• The first recipe for potato chips (called “fried shavings”) appeared in Mary Randolf’s Virginia House-Wife cookbook in 1824.
• Potato chips were declared an unessential food at the outset of World War II and production of them was completely halted for a time. It was only after a protest that the War Production Board reversed their decision.
• It takes approximately 10,000 pounds of potatoes to make 2,500 pounds of potato chips. Better Made says it can turn raw potatoes into potato chips in about seven minutes from start to finish.
• Prior to mass distribution, potato chips were dispensed in bulk from barrels or glass display cases in grocery stores. Throughout the years, potato chips have been packaged in cans, paper bags, cellophane, plastic, aluminum foil and cardboard tubes.
• According to legend, the average person eats the equivalent of 96 one-ounce bags of potato chips each year. That’s equivalent to 6 pounds a year. According to some, Michigan eats the most chips of everyone in the nation or about seven pounds a year.