Tasty Stick Ain’t Thick

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As everyone knows, I admire all things Utz. So I’m not being critical here of their product, but I’m rather amused at the packaging of their Potato Stix.

Our little group of guitar players, who meet ‘most every Saturday night, have gotten into the habit of bringing salty snacks to our gatherings. Last night, being an Utz fan, I brought three bags of their stuff to share, including their Sweet BBQ-flavored Potato Stix, which I’ve never seen before:

Growing up in Florida, Utz products were never seen but sometimes mentioned as wonderful yet unobtainable; when I moved to Maryland, I was happy to be able to at last enjoy them. Many of you may remember before the 1980s when Coors beer was not sold east of the Mississippi River. Not being able to obtain the product made it all the more desirable.

Back to the Utz Potato Stix. Please look at the photo on the package and then at the actual product below; a guitar pick is provided for a sense of scale. We all laughed at the little slivers of potato, especially when compared to the representation on the package. They tasted great but seemed a tad scanty; more a sliver than a stick, we all agreed.

Perhaps Utz should print a disclaimer on the package; something like:

Product shown as photographed by the Hubble telescope,”


Actual product is nowhere near as robust as represented in glamour shot,”


Product shown is what they’d look like if consumer was quite tiny,”


Product photo enlarged to ensure prompt purchase.”

Nonetheless, the Utz Potato Stix were greatly enjoyed and everyone was happy to have encountered them. Even if they’re skinnier than expected.

How To Make A Granddad Feel Great . . .

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And the answer is not a quart of Old Grand-Dad!

As mentioned in an earlier entry, I visited my daughter and grand-daughters today in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Patty had to work and Aaron is away for the week, so I drove up by myself. Being the world’s worst driver made me nervous about the trip, and I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to.

So we toured the Utz factory, explored Hanover a while, and then, back at Neenie’s, I got to play with Sophie (nine months old and now crawling) and Maddie, who’s three. Maddie and I did a jigsaw puzzle, watched some TV, and Maddie played her pink Dora the Explorer guitar for me.

After I got home, I was a bit downcast that I couldn’t stay longer than a few hours, and then Neenie emailed me something that made my day. When Greg came home after work, he asked Maddie. “Did PopPop come visit you today?”

And Maddie replied, “Yeah; it was awesome!”

Didn’t See THESE In Hanover . . .

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Before we leave the subject of potato chips, here’s a product that was years ahead of its time: Sealtest’s Chipnics Homogenized Potato Chips:

Years later, when Pringles came out with basically the same product, the potato growers had the government prevent them from being called “potato chips;” they could only be called “potato crisps.”

Here’s an ad for the ill-fated Chipnics starring comedian Marty Ingels:

I bet if they’d used Alvin the Chipmunk to sell those things they’d still be around today. And the odd layout for the ad text makes me think those lines should rhyme.

Is It Uhtz or Ootz?


The movie at the beginning of the tour pronounced it Uhtz, so I suppose that’s the official way to say it! As long as you don’t say Frito-Lay or Planter’s, the folks at Utz are probably happy.

My daughter and grand-daughters and I visited the main Utz factory on High Street, in Hanover, Pennsylvania, today. It was impressive, though the term “tour” implies that you are guided through a facility by a person. Not so. The folks at Utz barely have one toe in the water when it comes to promoting their history and manufacturing technique. Seems odd.

They don’t allow photography inside the plant unless someone in authority has okayed it first and I couldn’t find anyone to ask. So I can’t show you the manufacturing there; you’ll have to imagine what it looks like.

If I were Utz, I’d be fine with folks taking photos of their chip-making process. It was modern, efficient and ultra-clean. The sight of all those raw potatoes whizzing through chutes and conveyers and turning into mounds of tasty chips seems worthy of a picture or two, wouldn’t you think?

Before the tour, which is self-guided, one walks up a flight of stairs into what looks like a medium-sized company’s break room. There is a small theater running an endless-loop 15-minute film, which I didn’t watch once they said the word “Utz.” As I mentioned earlier, I wanted the official pronunciation.

Here’s the Utz Mission Statement at the foot of the stairs. Since I hadn’t gone up the stairs yet, I hope this photo isn’t in violation of the Utz no-photo policy. This is a typical over-thought mission statement, which I guarantee you won’t finish reading and that no employee there can recite. A mission statement shouldn’t be over twelve words. So something like “Making the World Happier With the Best Snacks We Can Make” would probably be better and about 60 words shorter:

Also below the stairs is a display showing some old machinery:

Hey; it’s an iPhone photo! Be nice!!!

A few displays inside the break-room show the early history of Utz and gave my daughter and me a clue as to where the firm started in Hanover. More on that in a minute.

The main portion of the “tour” is a walk down a long corridor where the various stations in the chip-making process can be viewed through large windows. You can press a button and a recording explains what’s going on at each point.

This reminded me of the corridor in a brushless car wash.

The Utz staff as seen through the glass windows was friendly; some waved at my grand-daughter and she was delighted. Also, they have cute little wooden stiles where kids can climb up and see through the glass. My older grand-daughter thought they were the best part of the tour.

The pototoes are turned into a variety of chips and packaged before your eyes. Too bad I can’t show you any photos, as it really was impressive. It is a huge operation.

My thoughts drifted back, as I looked at this lackluster effort at a factory tour, to the Tampa Busch Gardens tour setup back in the early 1970s. It was much the same as the Utz tour is now, except they had people walking you through the place and there were gardens and exotic birds outside the facility. Now there are rides, shows, music and other entertainment and the whole place generates revenue.

After the tour, my daughter and I decided to try to find out where Utz started. We knew it was a house on McAlister Street in Hanover. We also knew that, as the company grew, William and Salie Utz, who started in 1921 by selling chips cooked in their kitchen, enlarged their home. After a few years of growth, they built a small factory behind the house.

The house isn’t marked, but Neenie found it by spotting the factory (now closed) in the alley behind the house. Notice the additions on the back of the residence:

Here’s the front of the original Utz factory, which reminds me somehow of the Alamo:

Quite a history and quite an impressive operation. I hope the firm someday decides to showcase it properly!

Welcome, New Readers!

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Wow! Thanks to WordPress’ Freshly Pressed highlight of my blog, I’ve had well over 1,000 visitors so far today from 13 different countries. Welcome to you all! And thanks for the nice comments.

I hope you found the blog worth your while, and will come back to visit often. Today, I toured the main Utz snack factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with my daughter and grand-daughters and will be posting on that in the next day or so. As always, I’ll try to come up with a different outlook on the subject and explore a bit to provide you with a unique and fun report.

Thanks again!!!


By the day’s end (and it seems that WordPress runs on Greenwich Mean Time), there were over 1,200 visitors here. Thanks, all!!!

Here’s a screen-grab of a breakdown by country which I took a few hours before the day ended. It gives an idea of where the readers were from at that point. How cool!!!