August 7, 2002 - "Zapp's Potatoe Chips"

He's a happy guy whose "chip" has come in, the "chipper" face behind Zapp's.

It's a sight to gladden the heart of the couch potato -- millions of potato chips, hot out of the oil, rolling off a conveyor belt.

"We didn't invent the potato chip, guys," says Ron Zappe, president of Zapp's Chips in Gramercy. "We just took it to another higher plane, I like to think."

After all, when you come right down to it, the recipe for America's favorite snack food pretty straight forward, pretty simple. You start with a mess of potatoes, in this case about a half-million pounds a week. You peel them, cut them up, dump them into the oil, stir them around a little bit and -- voila! -- potato chips come out the other end.

But when you take the simple straight-forward everyday American potato chip and start making them in Louisiana, it's a whole 'nother ballgame! It's the attitude.

Says Zappe, "We don't worry about what the people like in North Dakota, as far as being mild. Down here we just load it up, and that's uniquely us."

Loading it up -- that must require a sophisticated research and development lab.

"Well, you've already passed it twice," says Ron, "but it's got a six pack of beer in it! We've tried remoulade flavor. That one didn't work. Balsamic vinegar flavor, that one didn't work."

But Ron Zappe has had quite a few weird ideas that really did work -- to the sheer delight of potato loving couch potatoes all over the world.