The Dig With Elle McLogan: How Potato Chips Get Made

North Fork Potato Chips A Family Affair

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Ever wonder where your favorite bag of chips actually comes from?

You might visualize a vast, soulless factory, where potatoes are processed and cranked out in supersized batches.

But when it comes to North Fork Potato Chips, you’re picturing it all wrong.

Elle McLogan met Carol Sidor and her husband Martin, who own North Fork Chips as well as Sidor Farms in Mattituck. The farm has been with their family since 1910—Martin is a third-generation potato farmer.

“There were 39 farm families that were settled here with my grandparents in that time frame, turn of the century 1890 to 1910,” Martin said. “And they were from Ireland or Poland. They were hard workers.”

Today, the Sidors are among the last farmers left in the area.

“On Long Island, back in the ’40s, there were 18,000 acres. It went down to 1,500 acres, so it’s just a matter of time,” Martin said.

Potatoes have become harder to grow and sell, and local farmers are aging.

“We’re all coming down the mountain—not too much youth involved—so we decided to try this,” he said, referring to North Fork Chips, which they launched in 2004.

After Martin pulls his potatoes and sweet potatoes from the ground, he drives them box by box to the factory, a single room filled with small-batch and hand-cranked machines. An antique rotor sealer closes each bag of chips, one at a time, with a clank. The chip-drier resembles an oversized salad spinner, and its predecessor was a makeshift invention cobbled together from a home appliance.

“I was very excited when my washing machine, like ten years ago, died, but it still would spin. So we got it here, took it apart, and we used that for the longest time,” Carol said. “People would come in, and they’re looking at it. ‘Isn’t that a washing machine?’ And I said, ‘It’s a prototype!'”

With an operation so small, “the price has just not been above profit,” Martin said. “And that ultimately has the final say.”

Times are tough, but Martin remains optimistic.

“We’re doing better today than yesterday, and hopefully, tomorrow will be better than today.”

To try these homegrown chips yourself, order from the North Fork Chips website.

They’re also available at several shops across the city:

Murray’s Cheese
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014

Eataly
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229-2560

or

4 World Trade Center
101 Liberty Street, Floor 3
New York, NY 10007
(212) 897-2895

Taste NY
Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd Street
New York, NY  10017
(212) 663-2212

Dépanneur
242 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(347) 227-8424

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 499-2917

Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(718) 486-7422

Campbell Cheese & Grocery
502 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-2267

What’s something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

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