Savoring 35 years of Local Flavor- Cape Cod Potato Chips
The peeled potatoes are sliced and lowered into long, rectangular kettle fryers. When the chips reach a precise golden brown color, they are taken from the kettle and placed in a centrifuge where the excess oil is spun off. (To make the brand’s reduced-fat version, the chips stay in the centrifuge longer to spin off more oil.) The freshly cooked chips are again inspected by hand, then salted and packaged.
The Cape Cod difference is kettle cooking in small batches, Mathias says. In the company’s large rectangular kettles, the oil is turned continuously by rotating mechanical “rakes.” Visitors can watch as a batch of potatoes is sliced and dropped into the kettle. When the potatoes are done, they are turned onto the centrifuge. That leaves the kettle momentarily empty, which allows the oil to reheat to the proper temperature before another batch drops in. This is different from a “continuous cooking” method, where chips move through the oil continuously with no breaks, Mathias says, and it’s what makes Cape Cod Potato Chips so crunchy.
Each week, some 750,000 pounds of potatoes are cooked into 190,000 pounds of chips, Mathias says. And the process is quick: The time between off-loading potatoes and sealing chips in bags can be as little as 20 minutes.
The company works with potato farmers from Maine to Florida, moving down the coast to follow the annual harvest. The farmers grow “chipping potatoes”—various varieties of white potatoes that offer a high yield, low water content, and low sugar.
Steve Bernard’s snack food career did not end with Cape Cod Potato Chips. In 2003, he and his daughter launched Late July Organic Snacks and ran the company together until Steve’s death in 2009. After a decade based in Barnstable, Late July is now headquartered in Boston. Dawes continues as the company’s CEO.
“I was incredibly lucky to have my dad as a mentor,” says Dawes. “He didn’t hide any aspect of the business from me when I was growing up. He shared the good and the bad.”
Even today, Dawes says, seeing Cape Cod Potato Chips on store shelves is “a way to say hello to my dad every time I’m in the supermarket.”
For more information about the company, visit capecodchips.com.
Ellen Albanese is a freelance writer who lives in Waquoit.
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