Old Dutch Potato Chips and the Introduction of Flavored Chips to the Midwest

My family migrated from Minnesota to Arizona when I just a tot. However, in our home, Minnesota foods, sports, and nomenclature reigned supreme.

In our Scandinavian family, Christmas time meant lutefisk and lefse. My Swedish-American Grandmother was the queen of the church suppers. We used the term “Uff Da” interchangeably when we were full, happy, or confused. Our living room became chokingly silent after Anderson’s infamous missed field goal. Kirby was considered king. And we were the only ones we knew who laughed uncontrollably at the movie Fargo.

“Well, the little guy, he was kinda funny-lookin’.”

My friends thought I was a sociopath when I explained through chuckles, “but we KNOW people like that back in Minnesota.”

Growing up, I remembered nothing about my short life in Minnesota, but I always felt my home state in our house. Curiously enough, Old Dutch was part of that.

My father worked as a truck driver forever. His route usually took him back to Wisconsin or to his old stomping grounds of Minnesota. Whenever he returned home, the snack and candy fiend would have a plethora of half-eaten bags of chips. Not just any chips, though, chips that had flavors we had never heard of: parmesan and garlic, dill pickle, jalapeno, bacon ranch, and onion everything.

Personally, my chip palette was geared more towards Doritos and Funyuns. Plus, some of the bags had windmill images that I didn’t recognize and therefore decided they weren’t trustworthy. However, my brother was a different story. You could catch him busily scouring my dad’s truck for the uniquely spiced bags of chips. To him, the more obscure flavor, the better. Then off he went to play video games in his room while happily eating his smorgasbord of pungent treasures.

Eventually, he came up with a name for these types of chips, “trucker spice.” Now living in Minnesota, I can’t pass by a bag of Dill Pickle Old Dutch chips without giggling. “Trucker spice” potato chips are forever framed into my childhood.

Old Dutch Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips | Photo provided by the author

Old Dutch Foods, originally Old Dutch Product Company, was founded by Carl J. Marx in 1934 in St. Paul.

The potato chips were sold in cardboard boxes, an Old Dutch signature, or one-pound tins. Three years later, the company went across the river to Minneapolis and in 1968 moved the headquarters to Roseville, where Old Dutch Foods remains today.

In the mid-fifties, Old Dutch opened a plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Enthusiasts of flavored chips, like Ketchup and All Dressed, Old Dutch chips sold quite well in Canada. Old Dutch and its subsidiary Humpty Dumpty Snack Foods have 7 manufacturing locations and 11 distribution centers in Canada. There are two manufacturing locations in the U.S., one in Minneapolis and one in Roseville.

Flavored potato chips are a newer concept when compared to their plain cousins. In the United States, legend has it, the potato chip creation started in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1853 when a chef tried to pacify a customer who wanted extra crispy fries. It would be another 100 years before flavored potato chips were introduced to the world.

Joe “Spud” Murphy, an Irish entrepreneur, decided the chips from the U.K. were bland. (Bland food from England?! Well, I never!) He formulated the first-ever flavored potato chip, onion and cheese, and seeing a gap in the market, founded Tayto Crisps in the Republic of Ireland in 1954.

Back to the States

After “Spud” Murphy’s creation, the Pennsylvania chip company, Herr’s, created and manufactured the first U.S. flavored chip, barbeque, in the same year. And shortly after, Old Dutch introduced the Midwest and Canada to flavored chips with their onion and garlic, barbeque, hickory-smoked, and pizza flavored chips.

Today Old Dutch Foods creates various chips and snacks, including their kettle-cooked line, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese puffs, salsas, ripple chips, dips, sunflower seeds, pork rinds, and even beef jerky.

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