This Snack ROCKS: Uncle Ray’s Chips
I don’t know how else to say this: This weekend Tina and I discovered one of the greatest snacks we have ever found.
It’s important to state, though, that it is not the foodstuff itself that was fantastic. Indeed, if you were to try it over the course of a blind taste test, you may merely have found it to be pretty good — perhaps even run-of-the-mill with moments of above-average. The flavors may be described as competent, the quantity may be thought of as adequate, and if you weren’t paying quite close enough attention the complete experience may have passed you by altogether.
Fortunately for us, that did not happen. Instead, we journeyed into a combination of snacks and madness that could only be personified by one product:
Yes, we are talking about none other than Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips. It’s possible that you’ve heard of Uncle Ray’s before — in which case, GOOD FOR YOU! — but if you haven’t, then buckle up, because this is a weird one.
The product of a long corporate history that dates back to the 1960s, and includes sellouts to large corporate concerns no fewer than three times, Uncle Ray’s chips are the leading blend of extruded corn/potato products and personal life coaching. Ray Jenkins, founder and current President, has taken individual snack products to a place that few have dared, and we find the results to be absolutely tremendous.
The chips themselves are pretty reasonable, coming in fifteen entirely predictable varieties that would not in any way shock the palette: plain, ruffled, BBQ, salt and vinegar, dill pickle, and pretty much every flavor that anyone else anywhere sells. They tend towards the salty, and unlike many others are very plainly from real potato — bits of fried potato skin and burned chips abound in a given bag, which is sure to lead to fights among any group of happy, mentally-healthy and freedom-loving people. Indeed, I doubt there’s anyone out there who’ll feel dissatisfied after a bag of Uncle Ray’s, even if they don’t end up high-fiving each other for having bought it…
…that is, until they notice something. Let’s put on our detective’s eyes and take a closer look at the bag, why don’t we?
“Chapter 24?” you may ask. “Story on back?” you may wonder. “Whatever could that be?” you may think.
And if you answer, “Thinly-veiled, heavily-Christian-influenced multi-paragraph allegories extolling in excess of two dozen personal values,” you’d be right! Oh God, oh God, just the memory of it is so exciting that I can’t actually contain myself. I urge to you imagine the experience of taking an ordinary chip bag on which you have been gorging yourself, turning it around and being confronted with, oh yes, an essay on the Virtues of Self-Control — but one as written by your senile grandfather who keeps trying to explain why he was wearing an onion on his belt at the time (because of THE WAR).
At the age of 10, I lived with my family in the Fisher Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan. By today’s standards we were considered poor.
On my way home from school one day, I took a different route through the neighborhood. I came across a fenced-in-yard that had a small peach tree standing in the middle. I could see through the wire fence that there were 15 large peaches hanging from the tree and 2 were even lying on the ground.
I stood there admiring those peaches for some time. I began to think how good one would taste and that the 2 on the ground would rot for sure, if they stayed there. So, to keep the ones on the ground from rotting, I climbed over the fence, sat down under the tree and enjoyed the sweetest, juiciest peaches I ever ate in my life.
We only had fresh fruit once or twice a year and I was very hungry. (It didn’t occur to me to knock on the door and ask permission). After I ate the 2 peaches I thought if I took some off the tree, they would not mind or even miss them. With another lack of self-control, I put several in the fold of my shirt and made my way home.
I first rationalized the situation to benefit my desires by telling myself that the peaches on the ground were going to go to waste. So many people, like I did, think that if they have a good reason for doing wrong, then it’s O.K. But it is never right to do wrong and never wrong to do right.
There are some things that I have done in my life that I am not proud of, but I have learned from the consequences not to do them again. Having constantly worked on self-control in my life, I have become a stronger person and I know I am still learning from life experiences.
To read more about Uncle Ray or learn about
Self-Control visit www.unclerays.com…”
It goes ON like that, and there’re DOZENS of these. Each chapter of Uncle Ray’s life not only includes a thoughtful allegory, but also a summary of the important value and a number of personal mantras that you can employ in your own life. So, if you have any trouble figuring out how to exercise proper self-control or understand the value of alertness, you need only turn to the back of the nearest CHIP BAG.
Every single thing about this idea is fantastically awesome, and I love it. There are nearly forty different Chapters in Uncle Ray’s grab-bag of values, each more vague and rambling and preachy than the last. Uncle Ray’s message is centered around a single guiding principle, offering to lend support “…if someone was ever contemplating suicide, drugs, stealing, or what ever life’s troubles bring you, I want you to know that you are not alone. Everyone has bad days and I want to be there with a message.”
So with that in mind, let’s go back and apply the lessons we learned from the story above:
One day, Uncle Ray was passing by the yard of someone who had a peach tree. He took a few, including a couple that had already fallen off. Later, he ate a couple. And that’s why you shouldn’t take out the Accounts Payable department with that sub-machine gun, Bobby — because of the value of Self-Control.
It’s just too random and insane not to adore completely. There is someone out there who sincerely believes that the back of a chip bag, a space usually reserved exclusively for the nutritional information people would be happier not knowing, is a viable medium for instilling good values. There is someone out there who thinks that, in the darkest moments of our life, when there is nowhere else to turn, they can always look to… their… chips.
This is optimism at its most frothing, and indeed it could come only from a person who still chooses to manufacture chips in Detroit. Here is a soul with supreme confidence that he can help humanity by distributing values with his snacks — or, perhaps, snacks with his values. Does it matter if his parables don’t actually make sense every time? Isn’t it enough that the world has a slightly unhinged old man on standby, ready to ramble good-naturedly at us from the bag of a plastic bag whenever danger calls?
Uncle Ray wants YOU… to stop planning that bank robbery and enjoy some salt ‘n’ vinegar!
It is pure and awesome and ridiculous, and precisely the reason that Uncle Ray’s is a snack that ROCKS. The food itself is pretty good, but the concept of a snack as an explicit pulpit is high lunacy, an idea that we could not have imagined anyone actually doing in a hundred years — and yet here it is, in thirty-seven chapters and fifteen flavors. It is the kind of rare and unique weirdness that reminds us exactly why we should keep trying small brands from little companies, drinking from wee breweries and checking out private labels. Crazy ideas will go away if we don’t join in every now and then.
Even if I have yet to figure out what the big deal was about taking the peaches. They were just LYING THERE.
Uncle Ray’s Chips: For being nuttiness incarnate, THIS SNACK ROCKS.