If you ever have moved to a different part of the country, far away from where you were raised, you already know how long it takes to settle into a comfortable routine of day-to-day or even week-to-week living. It happened to me many, many years ago when I left the Pennsylvania Dutch country and moved to Ohio.
One of the issues I had such a hard time overcoming was giving up those wonderful foods which I had grown accustomed to back where I was raised. It wasn't just the home cooking. It also was the quality brand names of goodies, such as King Syrup and Musselman's Apple Butter for our toast, pancakes and waffles, Tastykake brand cakes and pies such as butterscotch krimpets and blueberry pies and Utz pretzels and potato chips.
Some of the other food items we grew accustomed to eating were Kuntzler's hot dogs and Adams/York/Lancaster County homemade Pennsylvania Dutch, or slippery pot pie. Of the prior, I doubt if I've ever mentioned it in previous columns. Nevertheless, they are the preferred frankfurter of the locals. The latter I've written about frequently, even so much as to publish the recipe.
I love good snacks. Always have. Potato chips and pretzels are my favorites. I've eaten a lot of different brands of potato chips, but nothing can compare to the taste and lightness of an Utz potato chip made in the York County city of Hanover, Pa.
Not surprisingly, the area has one of the largest concentrations of potato chip factories in the country. One of the reasons for that is the large amount of potato farmers in that neck of the woods. But that's not the primary basis. Potato chip manufacturers prefer limewater to wash the sliced potatoes in before they are fried. And that area, I've been told, particularly York County, has an abundance of lime and consequently, lime quarries. As such, that neck of the woods produces one of the highest concentrations of limewater available and is in close proximity to the potato farmers. The combination of the two makes it ideal for manufacturers to put farmers under contract and use limewater to wash the raw chips in once they have been sliced and are ready to be fried.
Since I moved to the Buckeye state, I've done everything but stand on my head trying to get grocery stores to carry these items, only to hear one excuse after the other as to why they don't. I even wrote to Utz years ago offering to become the exclusive distributor of their potato chips in Ohio. I suppose they must have thought I was a practical joker, because I never received a reply.
Nevertheless, whenever I return to visit friends and family, I always stock up and return with plenty of Tastykakes, Utz, Musselman, King Syrup and other goodies to last until I return. One time I
Page 2 of 3 - returned with a dozen cases of Butterscotch krimpets and froze them. Another time, I brought back a huge "barrel" of Utz potato chips. This last time I returned with two cases of Pennsylvania-grown, home-style canned, peaches, both white and yellow. There never has been any need to bring back King Syrup by the case. Since I'm the only one who eats it, one can usually lasts six months or more.
A few years ago, I found out that some grocery chains were selling Tastykake-brand items and Musselman products. About that time, I also discovered that a national warehouse club in the area handled Utz pretzels. I spoke with a the club manager, explaining if he could get their pretzels, surely he'd have access to their potato chips and asked him if he could handle them for me. Unfortunately, he gave me a round bout answer that made little or no sense, so I just dropped the subject.
Fast forward a few weeks ago to the day after Christmas. Reading the local daily paper, I discovered a full-page ad from a local food supplier, RSVP, that caters to the public. Lo and behold, there near the top of the bottom half they listed Utz regular potato chips, a 9.5-ounce size for $1.99, rather the regular price of $4.29.
Now folks, at this point I need to say when it comes to quality, I do not haggle over price. If I like it, whatever the price is, I pay. So the price would not have deterred me one way or the other, but I mention it because for the quality of this chip, that is an amazingly low price.
"Peggy, Peggy," I cried out almost in disbelief. "Take a look at this." And I spread the newspaper out for her to see. "Stop by tomorrow and pick up a dozen bags."
"If you buy 12 bags of those chips, you'll overeat, and then we'll start arguing when I say it's time for you to diet. Besides, Frank, when will you ever learn to do things in moderation?" she asked. "What is it you find so wrong with buying just one bag or two?"
Whoa! She had me there. Think, Frank, think. You need a good comeback. "Honey, do you realize the gas money we'll save not having to drive 450 miles one way to Pennsylvania twice a year to buy these potato chips?" I tried, hoping that reasoning with her would work, and at the same time she'd see it as logical. "And the price is even better than what I pay for them where they're made," I added.
"We'll buy three, maybe four bags, but that's all she finally agreed." It was more than I hoped she'd agree to, so I finally ended it by giving her a sweet kiss, thanking her and telling her at the same time what a great wife she was.
Page 3 of 3 - Now let's see, we have the Tastykake cakes and pies out here, Utz pretzels and potato chips and Musselman applesauce and apple butter. Now if only I could find someone who handles King Syrup!