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The Chips Are Up
By Kent Lewis

I've always been a big fan of potato chips, even when I was a wee lad. I recently re-invigorated my relationship with the crispy snack during this year's Super Bowl. Being a Seattle native, I finally had a good reason to watch the game instead of the commercials. I was one of the many fans who consumed an estimated 12 million pounds of chips that Sunday. More recently, I celebrated National Potato Chip Day (March 14th) by cracking open my beloved potato chip collection.

Not being much of a collector at heart, I was introduced to collecting interesting potato chips when my grandfather passed down a family heirloom: The Jesus Chip. Although I was only 11, I do recall some sense of irony as my Jewish grandfather gingerly unwrapped his prized possession. He told me how he’d won it in a poker game 20 years earlier as he carefully picked it out of its velvet case with special padded tweezers and held it up in the light.

Sure enough, there was some discoloring that formed the likeness of Jesus. While I'd had my reservations initially, I found myself transfixed by the chip as if it were a ring given to me by Gandalf. I was hooked. From that moment forward, I emptied out bags of chips on the table before eating them, just to make sure there were no hidden treasures. My knowledge of potato chip collecting increased over time.

There are two basic types of collectible chips: external shape and internal design. The most common "unusual" shape is a heart, but I have chips in the shape of bodily organs and even a medal from the Torino Winter Olympics. Internal design chips boast a unique coloring or are just formed in such a way as to make them unusual. The value of any collected chip is based on the authenticity of the color, shape and texture.

Over the years, I've built quite a nice collection. As curator of over 100 chips, I've become one of the five most influential collectors in the world. Most recently, I picked up The Playboy Chip in an eBay auction for a mere $275. It had originally been appraised at over $500 due to its crisp detail and striking sexual undertones.

Once a year, I make a pilgrimage to a potato chip manufacturer production plant to research my growing obsession. Many of my past trips have been to the great state of Pennsylvania, as it's the largest manufacturer and consumer of potato chips in the country.

Most recently, however, I visited Kettle Brand Foods in Corvallis, Oregon, to get a first-hand look at my favorite flavor, Yogurt & Green Onion Kettle Chips. This year, there on the packaging assembly line, I found a Kettle Chip with a likeness of none other than myself on it. I guess you probably wouldn’t believe me though, being that it's April 1st today.



The Chips Are Up
by Kent Lewis


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