Discussion: Grippos, Mike-Sell’s, Husman’s and other local potato chips.


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Every city seems to have its own brand of potato chip. I love, when on road trips, going into gas stations and checking out the potato chip selection.

It’s actually come up in theater– Terry tells me that, during a particular show that was set in New York, the local prop mistress in Alabama wanted to use Golden Flake chips, which are about as local as you can get in Alabama. At a show I saw that featured potato chips and New York again, I remember seeing a Husman’s can in the background of a Brooklyn set. Chips end up becoming iconic of the area they hail from.

Around here, I’d say the three brands that are most “local” are Grippo’s (made on Colerain Avenue), Husman’s (Cincinnati-based, but owned by Bird’s Eye), and Mike-Sell’s (based in Dayton). Growing up, it seemed like every household had its own default chip– my house was definitely a Mike-Sell’s house (they are delicious, after all) but my cousin’s house was a definite Husman’s house. My elementary school served Grippo’s on Hot Lunch days (which was, more often than not, Domino’s), so those barbecue chips were a once-a-month treat. We would occasionally, at home, have another brand– Sour Cream and Onion Lay’s, for example– but it was rare.

Grippo’s regular chips are OK, but their Bar-B-Q (with the retro logo) is their standout. They’re tomato-y, spicy, salty, and just darn good– probably my favorite kind of bar-b-q chip. I haven’t found any quite so distinctive, or coated with bar-b-q-y goodness.

What’s your favorite chip– Cincinnati based or otherwise?

34 thoughts on “Discussion: Grippos, Mike-Sell’s, Husman’s and other local potato chips.”

  • Mike-Sells are the best! I like them because they are the perfect balance between salty and greasy. The ruffled style are great for dips, too.

  • I like Hussman’sa and Grippo’s locally, but my overall favorite is Zapp’s. They are kettle-style chips, fairly low in sodium, and come in great flavors (barbaque, crawtator, regular, and sour cream and onion are my favorites). It used to be hard to find them here; now they are the default offering at Pot Belly Sandwich Works.

  • I think the Grippo Bar-B-Q are the best flavored chips, too. Haven’t had many chips in a while except Lay’s Wavy given to me at some get togethers. Will have to check out some Hussman’s. I preferred them in days gone by over Mike Sells. I used to like MS but the peanut oil just doesn’t do it for me today but my older sister STILL loves them the best the rare times she eats chips.

    I remember as a little kid going on tour of Husman’s plant with either a brownie troop of school trip, and seeing chips on conveyor belt. Then in the late 70’s, I hung out with a group of people and one woman was a secretary at Hussman’s. They were allowed to HAND PICK chips off the belt for their own use. She brought some to a party once and we thought they were SO FRESH!! But this was many years ago..and well, the party was a little fuzzy…alcohol and a belly dancer was involved but I digress. But we ate them all summer at parties and it was amazing how fresh those were at the time.

    Interesting how a chips blog can bring back memories.

    Now I have to put Grippo’s Bar-B-Q on the grocery list. Those have some zing and are great with a Coke! 🙂

  • What a great posting!

    I grew up on Husman’s in the giant tin. Fond memories.

    My favorite is Mike Sells Groovy Potato Chips with UDF Chip Dip. How decadent!

    I miss Grippo’s BBQ – They are not gluten free and off limits for those of us w/ a gluten issue or Celiac. But I always bring a bunch when visiting my friends in NYC that are from Cincy.

    • I find that odd. Have you discussed it with other celiacs? They say right on their website that they are infact gluten free. I have celiacs and they’ve never bothered me.

  • We were primarily a Mike Sells Groovy Chip house. We usually paired them with Dean’s French Onion Dip, which is pretty much savory-seasoned crack. I have a new appreciation for Grippo’s BBQ however. I can’t wait to try their new bottled seasoning on some ribs.

  • Locally, love Grippo’s bbq chips – never tasted anything like them. One of the local makers is doing a salt & pepper chip which is pretty good.

    Jays from Chicago are terrific, can be found here at one of those dollar store chains. Zapps are great too – great flavors.

  • My dad’s cousin was a driver for Husman’s, so you can guess where we stood. (He even had his name painted under the driver’s window of the truck. Apparently, that was a special deal). But, we weren’t w/o the Grippo’s BBQ chips. So delicious! I have to say, I’m not much of a chip person anymore, but I might have to go buy some now.
    The best part of the Husman’s were the big tins. That’s what my parents bought for big parties. Weeks later, us kids would find them & still eat the stale leftovers, in the bottom of the barrel. We really didn’t care if they were stale or not. Ah, the good ol’ days!

  • My favorite by a wide margin is Mike Sell’s Good ‘N Hot. They are wavy and very hot. Hard to find. It is the reason I go back again and again to the Clifton Krogers.

    If you like spicy barbecue chips you really should try them out.

    • You ever try Snyder’s Of Berlin out of PA? they are a nice taste like Good n’ Hot, but not nearly the heat… practically no heat, just flavor…. but that is def 1 of my 2 faves.

  • Well, I’ve never met a chip I couldn’t love, local or otherwise. But being from NE Ohio, my heart belongs to Grandma Shearer’s kettle cooked. YUM!! I went to school with the Shearer kids!

  • Glad to hear the props for Mikesell’s.
    I was up on Detroit over the weekend and noticed a big of Herr’s Baby Back Rib’s Potato Chips. (http://www.taquitos.net/chips/Herrs_Baby_Back_Ribs_Potato_Chips) and boy they were good. Almost the same chip as a Mikesell’s but with a nice coating.

    Which leads me to ask, why is it the further you drive North and head up to Canadaian Land – the potato chip flavors get more and more unique: A sample
    Ketchup Potato Chips
    Steak and Onion
    Dill Pickle
    the list goes on and on.

    Brian Mikesell

  • Back in the day, when there were Thriftway grocery stores around The Queen City, their house brand BBQ were to die for.

    Once, during an inpromtu gathering of friends, we threw a bunch of cash at someone with a list of items to buy, clearly stating Thriftway BBQ. He came back with some other brand. We berated him and sent him back. He said the Manager looked at him weird. We didn’t care.

    Current favorite is Husman’s. Though I do seem to encounter some inconsistencies with their coating of the BBQ chips. Some bags seemed slathered; other bags the chips appear almost white and tastless.

    BTW, I’d like to give a shout-out to the Montgomery Inn BBQ Flavored Chips (which I believe Husman’s makes). A thicker chips for a snap and the coating is diving, though I can’t eat it all the time. Every now-and-again, however, it is the bomb.

  • I believe that Grippo’s makes a better chip than Husman’s. But I steadfastly refuse to but any Grippo’s product, and it’s only because they continue to use the nauseatingly smarmy local broadcaster Jim Scott as their primary advertising pitchman.

  • Too bad that Husman’s quit making unsalted chips. Could have cashed in on the growing calls by doctors and health care experts to reduce salt in the diet.

  • Not a potato chip fan at all, but Charles, what is “crawtator”??? Is this similar to the crazy Lays flavors in the UK, like prawn cocktail “crisps” as they call them? They also have really interesting flavors, like the those mentioned by Brian… you can find them in the British section at Jungle Jim’s.

    • RB: Basically, they are flavoring the chips with the seasoning one would dump in a crawfish boil. I’ve heard of “Old Bay” flavored chips–it would be a similar sort of thing only different.

  • I now love Mike-Sell’s Groovy Chips and Grippo’s BBQ. Growing up it seemed we had whatever was on sale.

    I love though Utz Chips and pretzels from Penn. When I am that way, I stock up and bring back although you can order online.

  • I’m a Cincinnati expat now living in New Orleans, so I have to say I’m glad to see Zapps already got a shout out. The salt and pepper are my favorite Zapps, but the Cajun Gator Taters (dill pickle chips!) are pretty awesome. The VooDoo chips are interesting, sort of like a grab bag of every spice in the world.

    Never had a solid Nati brand of chips, but one of them made the most amazing teardrop pretzels that were coated in what seemed like rock salt. I think it may have been Mike-Sells.

  • Eira-The teardrop shaped pretzels are a Grippos item, and still available. Absolutely one of the best pretzels out there, although we only eat occasionally due to the heavy salt content. Oddly, it is not like any of the other pretzel products that Grippos sells. The butcher my mother patronized when I was young always had a clear plastic container of Grippos pretzel rods on the counter, near the cash register. Every purchase always included a couple freebies, making otherwise boring trips to the store tolerable.

    Used to have a Charles Chip guy deliver to the house when I was a kid too, and the milkman left glass bottles in the metal box out front. Guess that makes me old.

    Grippos BBQ are still my favorite, although the XHot variety, which you can find at UDF are killer too. The original are more of a soft crunch, with a thick coating of powered spices, while XHot are more of a kettle chip, that may have been spiced via some liquid concoction.

    Got turned onto the Grandma Utz’s lard fried chips about 10 years back. We don’t go looking for them, but imbibe when we happen to be traveling in an area where available. Thankfully, that is not Cincinnati.

  • My favorite is Shearers, from Brewster, Ohio — the red bag, not the black one. Crispy, a little toasty. You can find them at Meijer and a few Kroger’s. Shearers cheese curls are also the best I’ve ever had.

  • I live in NYC and I love Grippo’s BBQ – best and I miss them.

    My question is this. My sister just sent me Grippo’s Gourmet Bar-B-Q SPICE. Like a steak rub or hamburger spice. Does anyone know about this and are there any grat uses out there?

  • My Dad ran the Husman’s operation from the 50’s until 1980. I worked there in the summers of 1969 through 1974 (HS and college days).

    Husman’s were the best chips because of the quality of potatoes and type of oil used, I think. Cottonseed oil makes the best chip flavor. And potatoes from the Red River Valley of North Dakota are the very best “chipping” potatoes available.

    And Husman’s BBQ was also better than Grippo’s back then.

  • Husman’s Sweet & Sassy BBQ!!!!!!! They are the best chips…ever. I love them. Made it really hard to move to California from Cincinnati…almost. 🙂
    Another one on the list of favorites is Jays Hot Stuff chips…we used to get those when we’d go on family vacations at the lake in Michigan…always brings back memories, besides the fact that they’re delicious!!! 🙂 We’d eat them with a Cherry Coke…the ones in the teal and magenta colored cans…ahh, the 80s.

  • Grippos’s Bar-B-Q Chips have become an obsession as mine over the past few years, and I’m not even from Cincinnati! All other barbecue chips taste generic in comparison. They have the perfect blend of unique barbecue flavor and spice kick and they do all of this with a regular, non-ruffled, non-kettle-cook potato chip. With their more old-fashioned packaging, they’re definitely not in with the hip, new artisan brands of barbecue potato chips, but nine times out of 10, they’re bound to taste just as good or better. The spices are also good enough for me to crumble the chips for a darn good barbecue rub.

    So, Grippo’s Bar-B-Que are my favorite chips, with Old Dutch Potato Chips out of Minnesota coming in at a close second. Oh, and then there’s Herr’s Horseradish Cheddar Chips and…

  • Where in the world did Mongomery Inn barbque chips go ? cant find them on any retail shelf and on phone with husmans and they cant find them.. sad day…

  • Hands down… I have a tie for my fave chips. Both fairly ‘local’ BBQ – Snyders of Berlin they are in PA… but still fairly local… the other you mentioned, Mikesells, my fave of theirs being the “Good n’ Hot” flavor… wish I could get their coating ‘recipe’… love it… would use on burgers to accompany the chips

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