January/February 2020 - 18

INNOVATION
SPECIALTY POTATOES
Purple chips a hit
in the Great Lakes
By Zeke Jennings
Managing Editor
NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO, Great Lakes Potato Chip
Co. owner Chris Girrbach ran into potato breeder David
Douches at an event where the latter was showcasing
his work.
One of the new varieties Douches - the director of
Michigan State University's Potato Breeding and Genetics
Program - had on display caught Girrbach's eye.
It was Blackberry, a round tuber with unique dark
purple skin and flesh.
" I thought, what a cool item, " Girrbach said. " We could
do something fun with that. "
Girrbach's " fun " idea finally came to fruition recently, as
208-795-5749
his Michigan-based chip company debuted its Blackberry
chips with an initial run of 4,500 bags. Girrbach thought
it was a solid concept, but he was still a little surprised
at how quickly the first batch sold out.
Great Lakes Chips' retail customers are located primarily
PROCESS EXPO
BOOTH
#4707
Phone: 800-234-4821
18 JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2 0 2 0
in Michigan, with a small percentage in neighboring
states. " There might be a few retailers with a case left or
something, but they're pretty much gone, " Girrbach said.
The process
Girrbach approached Iott Seed Farms, which is located
less than an hour's drive from Great Lakes Potato Chip's
Traverse City production facility. Dennis and Greg Iott
agreed to grow a small plot of Blackberry potatoes for
a trial run.
 Blackberry was bred by Michigan
State University's potato
breeding program. They have
unique purple flesh and skin.
Photo: Michigan State University
SPECIALTY PURPLE POTATO PROVES SIMILAR
PROCESSING VARIETY TO OTHER CHIPPERS

January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January/February 2020

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