Popchips
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Popchips (History, Commercials & Marketing)

Puffy and light snack products are becoming really popular in many markets. The US, in particular, really enjoys these kinds of snacks, and you need only think about Cheetos Puffs and Funyuns to see how popular this kind of snack is. There is another category of this kind of puffed snack, which is the potato chip, but fluffy.

Popchips are in this second category, and they have a texture that is a little bit like rice cakes. For those who do not want to have to struggle through eating a huge popcorn cake, Popchips are a really great option. They are also a lot more crispy which can be really enjoyable if you love a potato chip but want the texture of a popcorn cake mixed into your eating experience.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Popchips

History

This brand of chips is made with potato and corn. They are a lot like potato chips but puffier since they are cooked at high temperatures. The texture of the Popchip is a lot like a popcorn cake, but there is potato starch in the chips, which makes it a bit more of a potato chip texture and taste.

Keith Belling is the co-founder of the Popchip brand. The first Popchips were sold in 2007. The company was immediately noticed by Forbes, and Popchips were mentioned as an up-and-coming company by Forbes a few years into its operation. This was not a truly new idea since popcorn cake products had been on the market for years by this point, but the Popchip product did make the concept of puffed corn products a lot easier to eat. The smaller size of the Popchip also helped to improve the flavor and make the product less bland.

Belling always said that he, “felt embarrassed” to be eating bland and fattening chips whenever he went to the deli or ate out. He claims that this sense of shame was the reason that he wanted to make a chip product that everyone could love. While this might be just a ploy to help connect regular chips with some sense of appalled distastes, Belling certainly put his work in to create Popchips. The product took more than a year to fully develop, and the popping process was refined many times to make sure that the company was delivering a snack that everyone could enjoy.

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Belling has invented many other products and is listed on the Popchips site as a, “serial entrepreneur” so there was no doubt in his mind that he could make a product that everyone would love. Knowing how to connect healthy snacking with a sense of fun and whimsy was essential, but it was also critical that the recipe be truly delicious and fun to eat. No one would want to keep buying a boring and bland snack, even if someone famous told them it was good for them and delicious besides.

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With the recipe locked down and ready to share with consumers, the company also helped to cement awareness of the brand through the use of celebrities of high profile in their advertising. Ashton Kutcher and Katy Perry have helped to promote the brand, and the company was even able to survive a scandal related to Ashton Kutcher showing up in brownface and mimicking an Indian accent in one ad. Perry’s involvement in the advertising for Popchips actually led to her having her own flavor of the product, called Katy’s Kettle Korn.

The company has always leaned on the healthy nature of this product, indicating that the Popchip is made without the fats of other chip products and also being sure to lean heavily on the healthy ingredients that are in each chip. As with so many products that are made to compete with “unhealthy” snacking products, there is a slightly dubious nature to these claims, but that does not mean that the Popchip isn’t potentially a better snacking choice.

The popcorn cake has labored under a cloud of being boring and being connected with diet foods for most of its existence, and Popchips clearly are marketed to break free from this boring and staid mold. However, the plain popcorn cakes that are on the shelves of your grocery store likely have fewer added ingredients for flavor and might actually be healthier than a Popchip due to their very bland nature. That does not mean that you have to enjoy eating them or prefer them to Popchips, but the claims related to the healthy food status of the Popchip products might need to be eyed with a bit of caution.

Popchips certainly does seem to make chip lovers happy, and many people prefer this product to the other variants that exist in the hinterlands in between healthy snacking and naughty snacking. The brand has been cleverly positioned as well to be eye-catching in the snack aisle. All of the products are sold in colorful bags with large block print on them. Most of the bags show the actual product and have large block lettering indicating the flavor. You will also see the claims, “never fried, always real” listed on most of the product packaging.

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The back of bags of these chips also usually explains the popping process in general terms to help make it clear that this is not a deep-fried snack and is instead a healthy snack, more like the popcorn that you might make at home. This is not entirely inaccurate, and you will be able to enjoy a similar eating experience with the texture of these little chips. Certainly, the flavor of these products makes people much more engaged than the flavors offered by many other popcorn snack brands, so their claims about this part of the product can be trusted.

Today the products are sold under a private label brand with Aldi, Kroger, and Safeway but appear in their original livery and with the original flavors in all other stores around the US. Being able to change to a new co-packer helped the company to increase distribution and helped to keep stale products off the shelves of stores. The Ridged chip line also was recently released to create some new interest in the brand. The co-packer and VSB have actually shuffled around existing products and taken a few VSB products off the market in order to focus on Popchips distribution.

While healthy snacking is still relevant to consumers today, many people are aware that snacking as a whole is not really that great for you. Brands like Popchips and all the various other popped corn products that have shown up on the market today will likely have to continue to create new flavors and new gimmicks within their brands to keep people truly interested in snacking of this kind.

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Popchips Logo

Flavors

  • Sea Salt
  • Sour Cream & Onion
  • Katy’s Kettle Korn
  • Barbeque
  • Sea Salt & Vinegar
  • Thai Sweet Chili
  • Mature Cheddar & Onion

In the Potato Ridges Category:

  • Crazy Hot
  • Buffalo Ranch
  • Cheddar and Sour Cream
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Ingredients

From the Popchips site for the Seat Salt version of the snack:

  • Potato
  • Rice Flour
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Potato Starch
  • Sea Salt
  • Salt

This is the base recipe for all Popchip products, but the ingredient list might be longer and have other things in it for the flavored varieties. Some of these products are also made with milk ingredients.

Nutrition

Serving Size:1 oz (28g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories 124
Calories from Fat 34
Total Fat 3.8g6%
Saturated Fat 0.6g3%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 111mg5%
Potassium 151mg4%
Total Carbohydrates 21g7%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g5%
Sugars 1g
Protein 1.5g
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%
Calcium2%
Iron1.1%
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.

Pictures

Commercials

The ad campaigns for Popchips have come under fire many times since the brand was first placed on the shelves of stores around the US. The Ashton Kutcher ad, which was accused of being racist, has created a lot of discussion about the way that the ad industry casually uses generalizations to market products. Katy Perry’s ad campaigns were not connected with any kind of racism or commentary about the kind of people who would buy these products, but there have been issues related to the nature of Katy’s ads claiming they are too sexual in nature.

A key example were some of the print ads using Katy Perry as the spokesperson. These ads showed Katy holding Popchips bags over her breasts with the statement, “Nothing Fake About ‘em” below the image. While clever, many people felt that this sexualized the brand and Katy Perry in ways that were not welcome or necessary. Other ads featuring Perry showed cats in colorful wigs and some other odd nods toward a recent album that Katy had made, which showed her dressed up as a cat in the promotional materials.

While these ads might have been problematic, there is no doubt that this attention on the brand made people aware that it existed. In some ways, the negative attention was just enough to put Popchips on the map, and they are likely to continue to succeed now that everyone is aware that they are a great snacking option in spite of the problematic early advertising process.

A recent ad:

A news bit that shows some clips from the Ashton Kutcher ads that were associated with racism:

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

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