Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Whole Shabang

A couple of weeks ago I had reason to become aware of a certain brand of potato chips.  This story would be a lot funnier if I could tell you exactly how & why I became aware of this brand of potato chips, as it has caused much amusement around my office, but unfortunately it would violate the confidentiality laws that bind me to reveal the events leading up to the discovery.  So you will have to just make do with the statement that somehow I became aware of this brand of potato chips.

But chips are just chips right?  So why is this important enough to write a blog post about?  Because this brand of chips has a unique business model which was new to me.  The snack industry is usually about putting their products anywhere and everywhere they can.  Just go into your local high school and odds are you'll find at least one vending machine selling junk food. Half the space in a convenience store is taken up with junk food, it's everywhere in our society. So imagine my surprise when I found out that this particular brand of potato chips is only sold to prisons and jails.

Meet Moon Lodge brand potato chips....

I bet you were expecting something plain and industrial looking right?  I mean if they're only going to market to prisons and jails, who cares how much money they invest in an appealing graphic for the bag?  Apparently they care.

So anyway.  In using the internet to determine that these chips were sold only in prisons and jails, I also came across a vast array of links of people praising how great these chips were and lamenting the fact that they could only be found in prison or jail.  The company even has a Facebook page with recommendations from fine upstanding citizens who have had the honor of tasting these chips, and comments such as my boyfriend says these are the best, you'd should make them available to "civilians". 

So of course, I HAD to try them!  But wait!  They are only sold in prisons and jails right?  So perhaps you're now wondering why I haven't posted in almost two months........but no, I haven't been in prison, or jail for that matter.  Although I'm not a criminal, I do have some connections (insert Godfather music here), and today the subject of the above photo arrived in my office through means I will not disclose (more music that implies that I am a dangerous woman of mystery and not to be trifled with, but which also makes clear that I did nothing illegal, immoral or unethical to obtain said chips).

So the chips arrived, and the 4 or 5 people in my office who had reveled in the hilarity of how I had come across the existence of these chips gathered to all have a taste.  I'm sure you'll believe me when I say it was the highlight of our Friday afternoon.  But before I get to the verdict, just one more thing.....

The other interesting thing about this particular bag of chips was the flavor.  Note the name "The Whole Shabang", which I took at first to be just a peppy slogan like the "bet you can't eat just one" slogan that Lay's uses.  So my original thought was that these were the "plain" flavor of chips, but when I first opened the bag I thought they smelled like salt & vinegar chips.  Then one of my coworkers was the first to try one & said they tasted like barbeque chips.  Which was when we realized that "The Whole Shabang" was a reference to 3 flavors all in one bag.  As best we could determine there were plain, salt & vinegar, and barbeque flavored chips all in the same bag.  Very weird, particularly since the barbeque chips were not the usual orange color you expect so you sort of didn't know what flavor you were going to get until you put a chip in your mouth.

The, o.k.  They weren't bad chips, but they're certainly not worth going to prison or jail to get.  I guess if you're locked up, anything that tastes like something you can get on the street is the best tasting thing at the moment.  So while they were nothing spectacular to us, they did provide a week or two of amusement, although the final taste test was a bit of a let down.

I have no idea why the company, which is apparently based in Canada, has chosen to only sell their chips to prisons and jails.  I would be interested to know how they came up with that particular business model.  However, I believe that the prisons and jails stock them in their inmate canteens because they are not only kosher, but they are halel as well, and therefore satisfy the common religious dietary restrictions.


On a separate note, although having been in prison or jail would make an excellent excuse for not having posted in a while, the truth is much more mundane.  I have been busy with other things, and have been feeling spectacularly uninspired regarding things to write about here.  I do have a couple of things brewing in the back of my head, so maybe I'll be back sooner rather than later this time, we'll see.