How to make Burt’s chips

It’s a little known fact (to the English) but the proper name of crisps is chips! Yes, that’s right, you read correctly. Potato crisps originally came from America where we called them crispy chips. When they arrived on the shores of Ol’Blighty, you already had chips (as in fish and chips) so to avoid confusion, you called them crisps.

So there.

I’m going to continue to refer to my “crisps” as chips, safe in the knowledge that that is their correct name.

I found out this fascinating piece of name trivia from none other then the MD of Burt’s Chips himself, Mr. Jonty White. Jonty was relating a bit of the history of Burt’s Chips and the question of why they are called crisps not chips came up. Jonty said that we would be surprised at the number of angry letters he gets wanting to know WHY they’re not called Burt’s CRISPS. For the record, the short story is a restaurant patron in New York in the late 1800′s thought his potatoes were not crispy enough and kept sending them back until the chef got so fed up, he sliced ‘em up very thinly, fried them to a crisp and sent them out to the table. The patron loved them and the rest, as they say, is history….

Now you know.

I was in Devon on a blogger trip to the West Country and one of our stops was at Burt’s Chips to make some chips and maybe even get to pick the next new flavour. Burt’s was started in 1997 with a beat up old fryer and lots of hardwork. The first batch came out on April 1, 1997 but the chips weren’t ready for market until that Autumn.

At Burt’s, the philosophy is to make the chips as naturally as possibly with no artificial flavours or chemical preservatives. The folks at Burt’s know where all the potatoes come from, each field even! And each batch has it’s own personal fryer. You can even visit their website and get the lowdown on who their fryers are, as well as the company history and flavours available. There is nothing artificial about the flavourings either. They actually use real, live lobsters (well, dead lobsters) for their firecracker lobster chips as well as the freshest ingredients they can get their hands on. They use only sunflower oil because it doesn’t impart any flavour and the entire process from start to finish takes about 15 minutes. We got to take a tour of the facility and I made a short video on how to make Burt’s Chips.

Mystery bags of chips

As a special treat, Jonty took advantage of the fact that he had a bunch of foodies at hand and we got to blind taste 3 different samples of their new flavour – Sweet Thai Chili. Jonty charged us with choosing the sample that was the closest to Sweet Thai Chili. The samples were poured into a bowl and we reverently commenced chewing and thinking. There was a bit of a heated debate between Chip A and Chip C but Chip C won in the end, just edging out Chip A by one vote.

"our" chips

So there you have it. I can personally vouch for the freshness of Burt’s Chips and all the love and care that goes into each bag. But if you don’t believe me, they actually stamp the name of the fryer of each batch on the back of the bag, so if you have any complaints, you know who to call. In reality, though, people love Burt’s Chips so much that some of the fryers have even received marriage proposals in the mail. If that doesn’t vouch for Burt’s Chips, I don’t know what will!

Burt’s are available in Waitrose and the nicer delis. Thanks to Jonty White from Burt’s Chips and to Story PR for arranging out trip.

3 Comments

  1. w.pickles /

    Never heard of Burts till i bought some in a shopping mall in Taipei, Taiwan now i am hooked, best ever, thanks.

  2. Lovely! (That’s my thumb starring in the video. I overflow with pride.)

    The video’s fantastic – I’ve only got still pics, so I’ll be directing readers here when I write about Burt’s. I’m still amazed that they went from potato to crisp – sorry, chip – in about 12 minutes flat.

    And didn’t we look stylish in our hairnets and lab coats!

    • Yes and what a lovely thumb it is! Love the red nail polish, nice contrast with the Burt’s blue! Editing the video was a lot of fun and just reminded me what a fabulous time we had, sorry about the hairnets and lab coats, damn Health and Safety :D

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