Local Owners Went All-in Creating Half Dozen Flavors with Seasoned Southern Appeal
By: Jeff Walker, Business Review
In the high stakes game that deals in handheld spud-based snacks, the owners of Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips have gone ‘all in’. When owners Andrew Trumbull and Clayton Wynne discovered there wasn’t a local potato chip maker in greater Charleston or possibly in the Palmetto State, the two decided they could fill the thin and salty void.
With so many flavors and food groups originating from the low country of South Carolina, adding potato chips to the mix only made sense to Trumbull and Wynne. The two come from different backgrounds but both found themselves employed at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivans Island when their potato chip venture began to take shape.
Wynne earned a degree in business from Coastal Carolina with Trumbull graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY. With Wynne tending bar and Trumbull as a front of the house manager the two formed a friendship that would later turn into a partnership. The genesis of Lowcountry Potato Chips was sparked from a thought Trumbull had after management at The Obstinate Daughter were looking to add easy grab n’ go snacks to their underground sweet shop Beard Cat’s.
When the simple concept of adding potato chips to the menu was raised, the group quickly decided to keep it local and add a Charleston based company to the fray. However, their hopes were quickly dashed when they discovered no one in greater Charleston made potato chips. Shocking, at least to Trumbull. That’s when the light bulb came on over Trumbull’s head.
After more immediate in-depth research he was certain there was no one rising or in this case frying to the challenge. Upon sharing the news to Wynne the future business partners hashed out a plan over a cold beer and within weeks they were conducting dry runs tastings in one of their apartments. If the past has taught us, great ideas often emerge from garages (Apple & Microsoft) or college dorms (Facebook).
The two jumped on the chip train full steam ahead and before the end of 2016 were putting out product (Bloody Mary), of course not without educating themselves on packaging and design, and more importantly on how to make potato chips. While the potato is the most common tuber known to man, there are over 200 varieties.
Trumbull and Wynne soon discovered the aptly named chip stock potatoes (grown for use in making chips and French fries) are the gold standard, and the pair were soon buying large quantities from Florida and North Carolina to help create their signature flavors from locations on Rivers @ Reynolds Avenue and later inside a little used kitchen at the former Blackbaud Stadium.
And what about their signature flavors. Aside from a standard yet distinct and straight-ahead potato chip, the fantastic spud duo reasoned they should concentrate on tastes that reflect the low country of South Carolina. Deciding on Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips as their trade name, Trumbull and Wynne opted for several flavors that would easily resemble tastes of the low country including Bloody Mary, Sea Salt, State Fair Fried Pickle, Spicy Pimento Cheese, Mustard BBQ Sauce, and the Carolina Reaper which as advertised will arouse your taste buds.
Their savory and salty finger popping snacks quickly caught on and before long the partners found a more permanent location, setting up shop at in a larger facility at 4447 Dorchester Road which could help serve as a warehouse. While they produced their chips from the Dorchester Road site for a while, increased and immediate success came with another big decision.
Unable to keep up with the demand (nice problem to have early on) the guys were at a crossroads just a couple of years into business. Thus, the guys decided to contract with a more established co-packer, which means they now allow an external company to produce and package their potato chips under their name. Basically they provide bags and boxes to an outside source who use Andrew and Clayton’s signature recipes to manufacture Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips six original flavors.
Although the agreement takes a small fraction of their overall earnings, not having to invest in a full scale operation has allowed Trumbull and Wynne to concentrate on what they do best, marketing and distribution which has since made up for the difference of paying another company to produce their product.
Currently you can find Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips at 48 Whole Foods throughout the southeast as well as several Lowes Foods, and at local Harris Teeter’s. As far as convenience stores and mini marts they are proudly displayed in En Market and various Parker’s. Sports fans and concert goers will be happy to know they will be available at Riverdogs games and at the newly renovated Credit One Stadium.
Concerned potato chip lovers take note. Lowcountry Kettle use only sunflower or canola oil, so those with peanut allergies are welcome to enjoy their awesome snacks with reckless abandon. They are also gluten-free. While all their flavors go well with burgers and sandwiches or for snacking while watching the game, some of their signature flavors complement preferred dishes more than others. The Bloody Mary goes well with its alcohol namesake.
The feisty Carolina Reaper goes well with a zestier cheeseburger as does the State Fair Fried Pickle and Spicy Pimento Cheese. The Mustard BBQ Sauce is ideal with a pulled pork sandwich, with the Sea Salt an ideal go with when sitting next to fish or chicken sandwiches. Make no mistake Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips are perfect anytime, whether you’re hosting a social or having a picnic. Best to have a cold beverage handy when snacking on the Reaper.
Whether the guys will someday be as recognized as Wise or Frito-Lay remains uncertain. Quite frankly the two aren’t focused on it. Their overall mission is to make a decent living offering up great tasting potato chips that reflect the low country. While they are soon hoping to pay themselves and recoup their initial investment, the second part of the mission has been accomplished. Something about local that makes potato chips taste better. Safe to say, once you try them, you’ll be hooked.
For more on Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips or to order online visit their website at https://www.lowcountrykettle.com/