As I’ve stated time and time again, one thing I love about doing this blog is rediscovering things in and around Peoria. One thing I rediscovered early on in the first “Dashboard Dining” post was Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips. I hadn’t had them in close to twenty years and they’re just as good, if not better, than what I remember. And they’re made locally right here in the neighboring town of Farmington, Illinois.
I wrote the following on that post back on December 26th: “They're locally made in Farmington, Illinois and one of these days I'll have to do a post from where they make them.”
Boom. An ossession was born. I had to get a tour of their potato chip factory or it would haunt me forever. I sent an email, waited patiently and no one replied. So I sent another email and it was another Beatlesque moment as I got no reply. So I did what any ordinary person waiting for a potato chip factory tour would do: I called the office and pleaded and whined, like a three-year-old begging for candy at the check out line at the grocery store. And it worked!
I was given the green light for an official tour of the Kitchen Cooked Potato Chip Factory and you’re invited to come along too! I wonder if there’ll be any Oompa Loompas out there?
Okay, here we are at the Kitchen Cooked Potato Factory, the office is straight ahead!
There's the red door leading in to the office...hey, look over there...
And here's the two beautiful women that made this tour possible...
Sam and Penny! I first whined and pleaded to Penny, who then turned me over to Sam who set the tour up! Mucho thanks to these two wonderful ladies! And they were so nice to me when I arrived and made this tour fun from the moment I stepped in the door.
They pointed out this photo on the wall, which is one of the oldest photos from Kitchen Cooked history. It's a woman on the potato chop line, cranking out one of their tasty chips from days gone by. Kitchen Cooked has been a local business since the 1930's and you can read all about their history here: Kitchen Cooked History.
The journey starts at the back of the building with these raw potatoes.
And the journey begins on this conveyor belt. The potatoes go through a bath of hot water and get peeled.
They end up here at this station...
The potatoes are inspected here and he looks for any bruises and defects.
Chop, chop, part of this spud doesn't make the cut.
The potatoes then go through a slicer and the cooking process begins.
Then they move up on this conveyor belt...
And after they cook some more, they come out here.
And they're off for another round of baking...
Here they are at the salting station getting sprinkled with just the right amount of salty deliciousness.
The chips get inspected at this station.
These guys didn't make the cut and are banished to the trash bin.
Another sub-standard chip bites the dust!
Doug tells me this batch is just about done.
The batch is sent up here...
And they end up on this carousel where they get bagged.
Doug offered me some fresh chips, right off the line, I have to admit, this is what I really wanted from the whole tour! Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips before they even hit the bag.
Oh my God, I can't describe how good these are! These are the best tasting chips I have ever had! If only there was a beer in here, my life would be complete and my head would explode.
Okay, back to the potato chip journey, the chips are bagged and sent down a final conveyor belt.
Down below they are packed into boxes...
And here they are stacked on to pallets and ready for distribution all over central Illinois.
Doug cracked open a case...
And gave me some free bags of chips for the road! Thanks to Steve, Sam, Penny and everyone at Kitchen Cooked for a fun tour of their potato chip factory! I can now cross that off my obsession list! And yes, I wore my hairnet all the way home. See you all tomorrow.
Bonus Lunch Photo From Gidget!
Gidget said this blog put her in a food mood, so she sent in this picture of her lunch. Looks like a great sandwich, Gidget, but you need to go online and order some Kitchen Cooked chips to go with it! Speaking of Gidget, tune in to her and Boris's Secret Weapon show on Woody Radio. And check out her blog here: Gidget Bates Crap She Spews.