If you’re not a Maui resident or haven’t visited the valley isle in recent time, chances are you haven’t seen these Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips for a while. Because of its current exclusivity to the Maui market, some folks may have even wondered whether this product or company that makes it still exists at all.
Well as you see by the bag presented here (mahalo to our Maui ohana for sending us a few bags!), Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips and the Maui Potato Chips Factory in Kahului who makes it are indeed still alive and well. Well, well enough to survive these tough economic times we’ve been dealing with, where local retailers and distributors around the islands have been streamlining their merchandising practices. Meeting demand has also been a challenge due to limited manufacturing capability with their current facility and manpower, and Maui Potato Chips Factory insists on maintaining quality control as their top priority.
That said, according to Mark Kobayashi, the third-generation owner and operator of the business, Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips are currently only available at select retail locations on the island of Maui or direct from their factory in Kahului.
Also, don’t go looking for fancy, say, “Maui Onion” or Lahaina Barbecue” flavors from Maui Potato Chips Factory, as they only offer one flavor, which is the good ole’ fashioned “regular” Maui Potato chips featured here.
The Kobayashi’s are actually the third owners of the business, where Mark’s grandfather Yoshio bought the business from former owner JJ Kohama, who in turn had carried on from the original founder of these Maui potato chips from pioneer Maki Nakamura.
As stated on the package, Maui Potato Chip Factory, under ownership by the Kobayashi family, began in 1956.
In case you’re wondering what the deal is with the name “Kitch’n Cook’d”, it turns out this was the trade name given by a turn-key franchise originally started by a businessman from Springfield, Ohio way back when. This franchise operation provided the potato chip manufacturing equipment, cooking process, and most importantly the “Kitch’n Cook’d” signature logo that we still see the packaging labeled with to this day.
This explains why you see the same Kitch’n Cook’d label on potato chips from a company in Kona, as well as one operating out of Virginia. These are all independent (non-related) Kitch’n Cook’d franchisees.
Speaking of logo and label, ask anyone who grew up in Hawaii within the last several decades or so, and most will be remember back to “hanabaddah dayz” the distinctive red, yellow and clear plastic bag these classic Hawaii-made chips are packaged in. The label design is pretty much how I remember it when they used to carry the product here on Oahu.
As for the “DO NOT EXPOSE TO SUNSHINE” disclaimer loudly emblazoned across the top band, according to Mark, the reasoning behind that is that the heat and UV rays will cause the chips to go soft (taste stale) due to the cottonseed oil content and lack of chemical preservatives (a good thing!).
There’s no frills on the back of the packaging, which includes no other information except a bar code…
In the future I’d like to see at least a brief company history summary printed on back.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is how relatively greasy these chips are, which you can visually see the cottonseed oil they’re fried in lightly coating the inside of the clear plastic package (click on photos above).
Let’s see how they look out of the package…
Yup, even the chips look the same. They have that same, rustic, hand-cut appearance, with each and every chip having its own unique shape. Some more brown, some less than others. Notice some of the chips still have a little skin on them, which further enhances their hand-made appeal and flavor. The potatoes they use are the Idaho variety from California, specially grown for the chip manufacturing market.
They’re also still relatively thick and very crispy like every good kettle style chip should be. Seasoning-wise, I’m happy to say they’re salted perfectly, where I’m not running for the nearest water fountain after eating just two chips. Know what I mean? Being salted at the right level and being extra crispy, these were just begging to hit some dip.
Mark mentioned these chips tastes great when dipped into French Vanilla Ice Cream, so I tried it…
Hey, that’s pretty good! It almost makes the potato chip taste more a snack wafer, while the salt on it punches out the French Vanilla flavor quite a bit. The coolness of the ice cream also helps cancel out some of the greasiness of the chip. Even if you don’t have a Maui Potato Chip, try it with any kettle chip you’ve got. You just might like it yourself. I bet it’d taste even better dipped into some (softened) Tasaka Strawberry or Pineapple Guri Guri!
Then I tried it with some Clam Dip…
Of course, guaranz crispy potato chips that are salted just right dipped in clam dip is gonna’ be a winnah, as it was here.
Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips are available in 1 oz. ($1.00 factory outlet price) and 4.5 oz. ($4.50 factory outlet price) bag sizes. A 10 oz. bag ($10) is also available by special order direct from the factory. Retail stores on Maui who currently carry it include Long’s, Star Market, Foodland, Safeway, Ah Fook’s, ABC Stores and even Tasaka Guri Guri. Retail store prices are higher. Call for more information.
What? Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips
Who makes it? Maui Potato Chips Factory
295 Lalo place, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii 96732 Tel. 808-877-3652
Ingredients: Potatoes, cottonseed oil, salt.
Date of purchase: 5/1/09 (direct from outlet)
Big shaka to: Thick and crispy. Perfectly seasoned (wth salt). Tasty home-made flavor, including some skin on it! Rigid and seasoned just right for use as a dip chip. Nostalgic product and packaging. A made in Hawaii classic.
No shaka to: a little greasy (yet they always were that way). Only available on Maui.
The Tasty Island rating: 4 SPAM Musubi
Now to get my hands on a few flavors of Hilo’s famous Atebara’s Potato Chips!