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Where Do Potato Chips Come From?

Watch Chips Being "Born" on a Tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory

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Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory Tour

See where potato chips are born on a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis, MA.

© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
It's that question every parent dreads--"Mom, Dad... where do potato chips come from?"

Now, you can simply answer, "Well, kids, some of the best ones come from Cape Cod." The Cape Cod Potato Chip Company has been making its signature kettle-cooked chips in Hyannis since 1980. And, if the kids promise not to ask you where anything else comes from for at least another 10 years, you might even tell them you'll take them there to visit some day.

Free factory tours of Cape Cod Potato Chips are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You'll not only be able to show the kids exactly where potato chips come from, you'll even get a free sample of crunchy, delicious Cape Cod Potato Chips when you complete your tour.

Since its humble beginnings producing 200 bags of chips per day in an 800-square-foot storefront kitchen on West Main Street in Hyannis, Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Potato Chip company has grown exponentially. Its present plant produces potato chips and popcorn, which are sold nationwide.

The free, self-guided factory tour takes about a half hour, and kids of all ages will learn fascinating Cape Cod Potato Chip facts including:

  • It takes about four pounds of potatoes to make one pound of potato chips.
  • The company uses 28 million pounds of potatoes a year!

The tour gives visitors a glimpse at the potato chip making process. Before each truck-load of potatoes is unloaded, it is first sampled for specific gravity (the company only uses potatoes with a high specific gravity--low water content and high dry matter), potato temperature, potato size and raw potato defect level. A random sample is also peeled and fried to determine how the potato will chip before the load of potatoes is accepted.

Once through the initial inspection stage, potatoes are peeled with a brush peeler and then individually inspected on the inspection trim conveyor. Peeled potatoes are then washed and precisely weighed into batches.

Once weighed, the potatoes are sliced and loaded into the Cape Cod Potato Chip Company's kettle fryers, where they are hand stirred to ensure even cooking with minimal clumping. When the chips reach their proper golden brown color, they are removed from the kettle and placed in a centrifuge, where the excess oil is spun off. The nearly ready for consumption chips undergo one more inspection and salting before being bagged at a rate of 40 to 80 bags per minute.

The employees, who are obviously accustomed to being watched at work by visitors filing by on the other side of the glass, hammed it up a bit for the crowd, flexing their potato chip barrel lifting muscles.

I almost told you that watching the chips spinning in the centrifuge was our favorite part of the tour, but then I remembered! After watching the chips dance along through the production process, we finally reached the gift shop, where we were treated to free small sample bags of chips.

Getting to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Company... Cape Cod Potato Chip is located at 100 Breed's Hill Road in Hyannis, Massachusetts. From Route 6 East, take exit 6 and turn right onto Route 132. At the sixth traffic light, take a left onto Independence Drive. Make your second right onto Breed's Hill Road and follow Factory Tour signs. For more information, call toll free, 888-881-CHIP.

If you can't get there... you can still enjoy crisp, distinctive, kettle-cooked Cape Cod Potato Chips and other products at home by ordering online if they're not available in local stores.

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