You've got your computer chips, and you've got your cow chips, but for my money, the best chips are your potato chips.
I eat potato chips every day. I have a minimum daily requirement of several ounces of the roundish slivers of crispy, crunchy, salty scrumptiousness.
Sure, I know chips are rather bad for me – definitely not healthful stuff, they be. However, they taste so darn good to me.
I look at it this way: Chips contain no red meat – in fact, they're void of any kind of animal matter – and they have no sugar. They aren't fried in any kind of animal fat, and they contain zero grams of trans fat these days. So, if I eat healthful grub for breakfast lunch and dinner, then so what if I consume a few chips during the day? Exactly.
My chip-eating days began long ago, even before actor Bert Lahr started pitching Lay's potato chips in television commercials. You know those old ads, when he said, "Bet you can't eat one." Lay's got that idea from this joke:
Why did the sea monster eat a half-dozen ships that were carrying potatoes? Because you can't eat just one potato ship.
Not true? OK. You're right. In reality, the idea for the joke came to somebody after the Lay's commercials became classics. But it's kind of funny, don't you think?
I eat a few chips every morning as soon I get up, while the coffee machine is making my morning joe. Those chips appease my grumbling stomach for a little while, and they kind of clean my funky mouth. You see, I don't want to brush my teeth right away, because I don't want my coffee to taste like winter mint. The chips scour and freshen my chomping cavity, while leaving no overpowering mint flavor to taint my aromatic black coffee.
At least once during the course of an afternoon, I'll enjoy a snack of potato chips. It's also possible that I'll include chips as a side dish with either lunch or dinner. All my potato-chip eating means that chips are on the grocery list every time my wife and I go to the market or the base commissary.
My favorite potato chips are the plain originals, as in regular thin potato chips with no flavors added. However, I won't turn down wavy, rippled or kettle chips. And I won't scoff at such flavors as barbecue, black pepper, dill, or salt and vinegar. One of my favorites is Herr's cheddar and horseradish – killer, I tell you, killer. Yet, plain ole original potato chips are fine with me. Simple and unfailingly delicious.
Only one kind of potato chip has failed to make me holler with delight and blurt out "OooRAH!" I bought them just this past Sunday, after church, at our little local market. Sunday evening is our wine night, so I picked up some chardonnay, and I grabbed two unique little bags of chips on sale at the check-out stand. They were Larry the Cable Guy Barbecue Rib Tater Chips. What? Yes, that's what it said on the bag, which also featured a picture of Larry the Cable Guy, also known as Daniel Lawrence Whitney.
Larry's chips did, indeed, taste somewhat like barbecued ribs. That doesn't mean it was a good idea for a potato-chip flavor or that the flavored chips would taste good. It wasn't, and they didn't. Sorry, Larry. But I love your cammie cap and sleeveless shirts.
CBS Sunday Morning not long ago featured a segment on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time scoring leader, who is a fan of the inventor of potato chips. Kareem displayed his enthusiasm for the potato-chip genius, George Crum, when the segment showed him sky-hooking bags of potato chips into a schoolroom full of young students. He told the kids that potato chips were invented by a black American, who was not an athlete or a celebrity. Kareem is big on education and was pointing out that it's also good to be a scientist or teacher or a chef who invents a new goody.
That's cool, I thought, and I wanted to learn more about this Crum fellow and how he invented my favorite snack. The first report I read told me about American Indian George Crum. Could this be the same guy? The next report said he was a black American. The third report did not indicate race or background. Then I read the article that informed me that George's father was a mixed-race black man, and his mother was an American Indian, a Huron to be exact. The exact truth? I don't exactly know.
Neither do I know for certain that George Crum really invented potato chips in 1853 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he was a chef at a resort and where a customer complained that his fried potatoes were too thick or not crisp enough or both. The story goes on to explain that an aggravated Chef Crum sliced a potato or potatoes super thin and fried them crispy crisp and served them to the picky eater, who loved them.
To make this meal of a story into a snack of an explanation, Crum's potato chips took
off in popularity, and other folks began making and selling them, and the mechanical potato peeler and wax bags were invented in the 1920s, launching the great American potato-chip industry. Then Laura Scudder and Herman Lay and others got rich, and Americans got fat. Or something like that.
I recently heard some smart dude say that potato chips and other salty snacks are simply carriers of what we really crave – salt. I can understand what he was getting at. I love mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and salt. I love baked potatoes with plenty of butter and salt. And, of course, you know I love, love, love potato chips. However, this love affair is more than salt. I lust for those tubers called potatoes, and I especially lust for the thin and crispy end products we know as potato chips. That they are salty is a good thing.
That they could be unhealthful for me is another thing, but I've already told you I don't care. I try to make better food choices throughout each day, when I'm not munching on my chips. And I shall munch, for what is life without a vice or two?
Munch, munch, munch. Ooh. Ahh. OooRAH!