Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘BBQ’

Good Potato Chips Taste Like Conn’s

conns-trailer

Conn’s transport their chips to warehouses in Newark and Columbus.

Everyone has a favorite food. Mine just happens to be potato chips. A road trip to Conn’s Potato Chip Company in Zanesville brightened my day since Conn’s has always been my favorite chip.

Back in 1935, Mrs. Ida Conn perfected the potato chip. She used the best potatoes, pure vegetable shortening and salt to create this taste treat which has delighted customers for over 80 years.

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The U.S. flag proudly flies at the entrance of Conn’s Potato Chip Company.

Those first potato chips were made in her garage and delivered in a market basket to neighbors by Ida herself. While selling her chips on Putnam Avenue, Ida became acquainted with Dick Downey, who with Dave McGee, purchased the Conn Potato Chip Company from Ida in the 1940s.

Dick became a favorite customer of mine in a local downtown business about twenty years ago. Of course, he knew my love for potato chips and one day asked what my favorites might be.

Sometimes there are those special chips with a bubble in them. Those are my favorites.

A few days later, Dick brought an entire bag of potato chips with bubbles for my enjoyment. What a kind gentleman.

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Mike has been delivering Conn’s locally for ten years.

But Dick was very strict about the way his employees handled bags of chips. He realized that few like crumbled potato chips so he told them to handle a bag of potato chips like you were holding a baby. After all, they were his babies.

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Tammy, our guide, stands before crates of potatoes that will all be used in one day.

When visiting the plant, the first thing you’ll notice is that gentle aroma of potato chips. Tammy, our guide, said her daughter told her, “Mom, you smell like a french fry.” The fragrance hangs in the air.

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Employees enjoy their jobs as they box chips for shipment.

This was a happy workplace and everyone had smiles and waves as we visited the manufacturing facility where all they make is potato chips. It didn’t seem to matter what their job was, these pleasant employees enjoyed it from cutting, sorting, bagging to shrink-wrapping stacks of boxes. Or perhaps they were smiling because of the mandatory hairnets we were wearing.

Here in Zanesville is the only place that Conn’s potato chips are made. They do have warehouses in Newark and Columbus.

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After potatoes are washed and skinned, they head through the potato slicer.

Every week approximately 100,000 pounds of potatoes are brought into the factory to be made into fresh chips. Now these aren’t ordinary potatoes you might buy in the store. They are ‘chipping’ potatoes, a special variety that has less starch and sugar.

First, they are washed with high pressure to remove all dirt. After that the skin is brushed off with many mechanical brushes. Everything is done by machine with employee supervision at each process.

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Layer of sliced potatoes heads to the fryer on a conveyor belt.

The potato cutter then slices the potatoes into potato chip size. Blades are changed once a week to make wavy potato chips, the most popular party chip for dips. Sometimes when the chips fly out of the cutter, it looks like it’s raining potato chips.

They are then sent through the deep fat fryer on a conveyor belt. Recently, some noticed a slight change in the taste, as Conn’s was forced to remove the hydrogenated fat from the soybean oil that is used. This change is due to a recent federal regulation to improve our health.

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Fresh Conn’s Potato Chips leave the fryer to be sprayed with salt.

At the other end, a very find salt is sprayed on, so it’s easily absorbed by the warm chips. Now an inspector watches carefully for chips that are too well done or imperfect and removes them before they fall into buckets that look like seats on a ferris wheel to be sent to the bagging room.

conns-bagger

In the packing room, overhead tumblers mix the flavors before bags are filled below.

Here the chips are directed to various tumblers for packing. This is where the flavors are added. Green Onion, their most popular flavor, BBQ and Salt and Vinegar were being packed while watching. They bag in various sizes from 1 oz. to 1 pound.

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This gentleman brought in his Conn’s Anniversary tin for an economical refill.

If you want an 80th Anniversary Tin filled, they will fill it right off the conveyor belt for $5. That’s quite a savings for two and a half pounds of potato chips. Refills are only $3. If you travel that direction, and you love potato chips, it would pay to buy a tin.

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President Montie works at his desk with a picture above of his newborn grandson already pictured with a Conn’s tin.

Current owners, Montie Hunter and the George brothers – Tom and Jon, invested in Conn’s future by moving to a 100,000 square foot facility on Richards Road in Zanesville. Their new state of the art equipment still provides the same quality chips that have been favorites for generations.

conns-jon

Co-owner, Jon, enjoyed sharing the Conn’s story, while his brother, Tom, was taste testing.

Montie worked as a route salesman for Dick so was very familiar with Conn’s. They had to make two promises when they purchased the company. 1) The name could not be changed. 2) Keep all the employees.

Tours of the factory are frequent for schools, seniors and even tour buses. Everyone comes away with the chance to have a few hot chips right off the conveyor belt. Good potato chips taste like Conn’s.

Conn’s Potato Chips is located in Kemper Court at the east side of Zanesville. Take Richard Road off Route 40 and about two miles back on the right hand side you will find Kemper Court and Conn’s Potato Chips. Take a tour sometime!

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Rootin’ Tootin’ Western Fun Hopalong Cassidy Festival

Pritchard Laughlin Civic CenterMore fun than a pig in mud !  That description summed up the feeling of those participating in the 23rd Annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival held at Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center during the first weekend of May near Cambridge, Ohio. Everyone there seemed to be having fun in this beautiful springtime setting!

From the moment of arrival, you were greeted outside the center with some good old-fashioned BBQ by Smokin’ C BBQ from nearby Old Washington. This provided a break from the action anytime hunger appeared during the day. Their pulled pork sandwiches and BBQ baked potatoes are always favorites.

Festival LobbyInside was where the legend of Hopalong Cassidy was being kept alive. The lobby contained Western actors from days gone by. They autographed pictures, posed with fans, and answered questions in a friendly manner.

The large banquet room had hundreds of items for sale from days of Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Daniel Boone and other favorite Western stars. Fans and dealers from all over the nation come to explore over one hundred tables of collectibles to see if they can find a treasure.

Panel of Stars

Julie Ream narrated a Panel of Stars including: Darby Hinton, Johnny Crawford, and Don Quine.

Cowboys from the past seemed to be one of the main drawing cards.  Meet the Stars drew a large crowd in the Bar 20 Annex.  These stars were all from California, but enjoying the small town greeting. Western history expert Julie Ream, who remembered the days of attending Charm School, informed the audience that her cousin, Cactus Mack McPeters was the first to make a Western with Republic Pictures, while her Uncle Rex Allen, The Arizona Cowboy, made the last Western for them.

Representing The Virginia was Don Quine, who played the role of the grandson, Stacey. Today he spends his free time writing a book, but he would not give any inside information as to what that book was about. Perhaps it is his memoirs.

An actual descendant of Daniel Boone, Darby Hinton accidentally fell into a role in the Daniel Boone TV series when his mother, running late as usual, dropped him off in front of the studio while she went to park the car. Here he was to try out for the part of a von Trapp lad in Sound of Music. So when Darby went inside, he fell right in line with the rest of the youngsters. He charmed those interviewing and got the part easily. However, when his mother arrived, she discovered he had gone to the wrong floor and instead of interviewing for Sound of Music, had accepted a role in Daniel Boone as his son. Today he is working on a PBS documentary of the life and times of the real Daniel Boone.

A sense of humor seemed to be the strong point for Johnny Crawford, who appeared on Rifleman for five years in the role of a son. When asked what he did when he became an adult, Johnny said, “I never grew up.” Music seemed to be his avocation these days and he sang Sweet Sue to the group…well, as much of it as remembered. Johnny said he could do the beginning of most songs.

Look Alike ContestAnother highlight was the Look-Alike Contests for young and old alike, which was judged by audience clapping. Youngsters dressed in Western gear competed for trophies, but just being there was the most fun for all of them.

In the adult division, Johnny Crawford served as moderator and put the competitors through their paces. While he sang, he had them perform in various ways such as dancing, cracking the whip, doing tricks with their guns, and testing their beards to see if they were real.  Gabby Hayes quipped, “My teeth aren’t real, but my beard is.”

Johnny noted, “Being a cowboy is a hard life.”

To which Gabby responded, “Durn tootin’.”

The Roy Rogers Look-Alike was a real estate broker, who wore his Roy Rogers hat to work every day. His rendition of Happy Trails to You brought a round of applause.

However, John Wayne’s Look-Alike was the overall winner of the contest. This big, strong fellow looked and sounded like The Duke. His dance steps were even quite smooth for a cowboy of his size.

Laura Bates, founder and chairmanLaura Bates, the founder of the Hopalong Cassidy Festival, paid tribute to Grace Boyd, Hopalong’s wife. Laura and Grace had become good friends over the years with Laura visiting their California home on the Pacific Ocean frequently. Laura dressed in a shirt of Hoppy’s that Grace had given her, and had the table covered in a scarf from their home. While the festival was to honor hometown cowboy hero, Hopalong Cassidy, his wife actually was a guest there for several years and became a real favorite of those attending. Grace went to the corral where cowboys and their families go after they leave this old world at the age of 97.

Many of the attendees come year after year to the Festival. One couple from Jacksonville FL said they had been there for 17 years. Seeing old friends, who are fans of Hoppy, is one of the best reasons for coming back year after year. See y’all next year!

The Hopalong Cassidy Festival is held annually at Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center near Cambridge Ohio.  It is easily reached from I-70 at Exit  176. Turn right coming off the exit onto Glenn Highway Road, and in about half a mile the civic center is on the left side of the road.

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