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Potato Chips and Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse

2023-03-13   ◆   4 minutes read
Potato chips are not only an amazing snack food but are full of fat and vitamin C. They make a great appetizer with various dips or consume them as a side dish. Ever wonder how this addictive snack was invented and how they are made? Did you know that a potato is a great vegetable to survive a zombie apocalypse? Curious? Keep reading! Bowls of super yummy and crispy chips potato business
Bowls of super yummy and crispy chips (potato business)

How are potato chips made?

Let’s look at the process that allows us to enjoy these munchies:
  • While every potato may be a candidate for a potato chip, special crops of chipping potatoes are grown. These potatoes have a long shape that facilitates cutting. Due to high starch levels and low sugar content, they tend to stay fluffy on the inside but also turn light brown when fried on the outside.
  • Once the potatoes are picked and sold to the chip company, they are stored in temperature-controlled environments. This ensures their starch doesn’t turn into sugar and ruin the potato. They can be stored this way for about 4 months.
  • They are washed. The skins are removed and sorted by size. They are also sliced by using a razor-sharp blade. To get rippled chips, a serrated blade would be used. This process is done with the help of special machinery.
  • The slices are then washed to remove the starch that can get onto the edge of the potato once it is cut.
  • Now it is time to cook the potatoes and make them nice and crispy!  Potato chips are cooked in a vat of very hot and bubbling vegetable oil. While the chip is cooking, steam rises in the air. This is removing the water inside the potato and replacing it with vegetable oil.
  • The chips are then salted, flavoured, and packed. They are then delivered to warehouses and distribution centers. Then, stores can replenish their stock of chips by simply placing orders with the local warehouse.
Chef George Speck and his sister Catherine Wicks the evangelists of chips in North America
Chef George Speck and his sister, Catherine Wicks, the evangelists of chips in North America

Who Really Invented the Potato Chip?

Many speculate the inventor of the potato chip was chef George Speck (later went by the name Crum). Still, it was actually his sister, Catherine Wicks, who discovered the chip by accident. The siblings worked together at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in Saratoga Lake, NY, in the 1850s. According to the legend, Wicks accidentally dropped a small piece of potato into a pan of fat. After removing the potato and setting it aside on a plate, her brother, Speck, decided to taste it and wanted to make more! Not long after, the “Saratoga Chip” became a big crowd-pleaser and one of the most popular items to be served at the lodge. Recipe no. 104 in The Cooks Oracle and Housekeepers Manual Gutenberg Project
Recipe no. 104 in The Cook’s Oracle and Housekeeper’s Manual (Gutenberg Project)
Many food historians suggest that this wonderful snack was actually invented much earlier (1817) by a British doctor called William Kitchiner. The first edition of his cookbook “The Cook’s Oracle” has a recipe called “potato fried in slices”, which sounds much like today’s chips! A later revision of this book has the same recipe, except the title was changed to “potatoes fried in slices or shavings.” While Kitchiner may have been the first to publish the recipe for potato chips, does it mean he invented it? Considering how common the potato is, perhaps for centuries, people have been preparing chips without fully recognizing the initial inventor of this snack. A fun 1956 vintage packet of crisps Tayto
A fun 1956 vintage packet of crisps (Tayto)

Chips Flavouring 

Originally, chips were created solely from potatoes and were sold without seasoning. Traditionally, they came with a little packet of salt that you could add, if desired. Joseph “Spud” Murphy, who owned the Tayto Potato Chip Company in Dublin (Ireland), changed everything. In 1954, his employee Seamus Burke was the person who came up with a cheese and onion flavouring, which is still very popular in Ireland, Britain, and North America. By using some very clever marketing strategies (back in the times) using radio sponsorships, and city signs that became Dublin’s landmark, Murphy was successful in making the flavoured potato chips a worldwide staple!

Potatoes and the Great Hunger

Now that we learned about how this snack is made and its origins, let’s look at the history behind the main source of inspiration behind this beloved snack: the potato! During the Great Hunger or the Irish Famine, approximately 1 million Irish people died of starvation while approximately 2 million fled the country as refugees. The famine period was caused by mold that grew on the potato plants and lasted from 1845 to 1852. For sustenance, the potato was a critical source of nourishment which Irish farmers heavily relied on as food and that led to widespread famine. 

Scrumptious baked potato with trimmings Once Upon a Chef

Scrumptious baked potato with trimmings (Once Upon a Chef)

Potatoes are a Great Way To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse!

With so much healthy nourishment and the various ways to cook a potato, this vegetable can give you the nourishment and fuel you need to kick some zombie butt! 
  • While this is not recommended, it is known that you can survive by eating a combination of potatoes and a source of fat (e.g., milk or butter). This will allow you to hit the most basic nutritional requirements.
  • One medium, unpeeled potato contains 3 grams of protein, 110 calories, and 26 grams of carbohydrates. 
  • They are also an excellent source of potassium and have 27 milligrams of Vitamin C, which is nearly half a day’s requirement. 
  • Potatoes are 80% water which can be useful for hydration in a survival situation. 
  • They are easy to grow in all kinds of soil and climates, even cold climates. 
  • You can also grow new plants from old ones by planting seed potatoes whole or cut in wedges that contain eyes. 
  • Depending on how much space you have, you can grow them in barrels, on hills, or on raised mounds of dirt.
  • By placing them in a root cellar, they can keep for up to 6 months. If you do not have a root cellar, a basement or a cool dark place are good alternatives. 
You can grow potatoes almost anywhere Encyclopedia Britannica
You can grow potatoes almost anywhere! (Encyclopedia Britannica)

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a gardening method of planting specific crops near each other. Its purpose is to help encourage your plants to grow, attract beneficial insects that will help pollinate your crops, or deter pests from destroying your plants! This process can also enrich and protect vulnerable crops, depending on the companion plants you are using.

Companions Plants for Your Potatoes: 

  • Alyssum would help attract beneficial insects as well as help retain soil moisture and prevent weeds. 
  • Cabbage Family Plants (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi) These plants have a shallow root system, so they won’t compete for the space or nutrients that your potato roots need. This is a great way to maximize space in your garden.
  • Cilantro (AKA Coriander) is one of the best companion plants for potatoes because they are excellent at attracting insects that prey on harmful pests such as the Colorado Potato Beetles
  • Flax is another companion plant that deters the Colorado Potato Beetle 
  • Horseradish can improve the resistance of potatoes and deters the Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Leeks are a popular addition to potato dishes and can be used as a companion
  • Legumes provide the much-needed nitrogen in the soil, and potato plants deter the Mexican bean beetle, which is a common pest to many legumes
Potato chips are a popular snack food, whether on their own or accompanied by a dip. Now that we are better prepared for an impending zombie apocalypse, why not go to your nearest store and stock up on supplies? Before you head out, use our search feature to find potato chips near you!

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