Local chips will get their big break on national TV
Usually the word break, in a sentence about snack chips, would be bad. Not this time.
Hawaiian Chip Co. LLC
will get a big break tomorrow when its purple and gold sweet potato chips will be featured as "Snack of the Day" on the nationally syndicated "Rachael Ray" show. It airs at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday on KGMB-TV.
You can't help but wonder how this sort of thing comes to pass.
"Actually one of her producers was surfing the Internet looking for unique snacks to feature," on the show, said James Chan, general manager of Hawaiian Chip Co.
She called and asked for samples, which Hawaiian Chip Co. excitedly sent along. After "a couple months, we thought, 'maybe she's not interested,' but then she called us back!" Chan said. "It's almost surreal. It's -- we've never had that type of coverage."
Ray likely will be very positive about the chips, but Chan was assured by the producer that it won't be fake. "She was pretty adamant that as good as Rachael Ray makes everything look, you can really tell she does genuinely love the chips."
Hawaiian Chip Co. makes sweet potato chips, taro chips and combinations of the two in different flavors, including lightly salted, "Zesty Garlic," "Kilauea Fire," "Kiawe BBQ" and sweet.
Chan's plan was to sell the chips through a sandwich shop he and friends were to establish, but when that fell through he hooked up with local retailers.
The chips were first available in gift-basket-type stores such as Wholesale Unlimited, then at visitor retailers such as Hilo Hattie and Dole Plantation. He has continually expanded.
"A big break for us was getting picked up by Costco," Chan said. He also gained entree into Walgreens' Hawaii stores and is working on more.
The chips are also available at a few spots in California and Washington.
"We're active members of the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association and they do help us get our product up to the mainland," said Chan.
Hawaiianchipcompany.com details retail locations and offers online purchasing. The site was down yesterday for an upgrade of its e-commerce functions, which Chan expects will be completed in plenty of time for tomorrow's broadcast.
The chip-making happens in an 1,100 square-foot facility at 717 N. King Street at the moment. "We're spilling out of this space," he said. He has four part-time and four full-time employees, including himself, so "the Christmas rush was a little interesting."
A new kitchen in a more than 5,000-square-foot space is being prepared for the company's relocation in April.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com