Potato wonderland. Two words I never expected to see justaposed. However, click on the website of Burts hand fried potato chips and that’s exactly what you’re advised that you are entering . Not a spud-based theme park, but the home of a rather cheery little company.
Today in Hyde Park my missus bought me a bag of Burts salt and vinegar flavour while she had the mature cheddar. Nothing unusual about enjoying a potato-based snack every now and then.
However, what was a tad unusual was that I had never heard of this particular brand, while Val knew the company history inside out. She also advised me that while you can hardly find these snacks in Scotland, when you do, you’ve found yourself an excellent shop or cafe.
I was able to flesh out the story of the company by reading the back of the packet. And you have to hand it to this lot, they’ve got the marketing just right: simple, engaging, environmentally sound, quirkily endearing. Oh – and very, very tasty.
I loved the story of how a group of friends rebelled against tasteless and junk-filled crisps by setting up their own wee business in Devon complete with a second hand frying machine – and how they went on to perfect their hand-fried recipes with a a good number of burned fingers along the way.
But what really sealed it for me was that each and every packet tells you the name of:
A – Which field the potatos were grown in (both mine and Val’s came from Tapp – a good crop!)
B – The name of the worker who hand fried the potato slices (mine by Mike, Val’s by Sean)
Brilliant! What could make you feel more connected with your grub? Of course, I’m not quite enough of a sucker to completely buy this tale lock, stock and barrel. It was probably the case in 1997 when the firm was founded.
Now though, I suspect there may be just a wee element of marketing spin in this. For instance, the list of counties the Burts products are now exported to suggests it’s now a far more corporate endeavour. And the fact that neither “sean” nor “mike”, were among the fryers named and pictured on the website says that the staff is now sizable (or changing rapidly).
None of which I will hold against the people behind Burts, because the product is excellent and I strongly suspect the ethos behind the company is everything it says it is.
No, the only thing bugging me about Burts is the Americanism – why call them chips?
What’s wrong with good old British crisps? While the rest of the world is using their two point plugs and driving on the righthand side of the road they are also eating fried potato chips.
I like that fact that in Britain our big, ugly, clunky plugs have three points. That we drive on the left. And that chips are served with fish – while our potato snacks are CRISPS.