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Potato Crisps

Known as crisps in the UK, and chips in the US, this film is all about those thin slithers of fried potato that we all find so delicious. They were first served in an American restaurant by a chef who was deliberately trying to annoy a customer with a silly dish; the ploy backfired, the customer loved his fried slithers, and a culinary legend was born.

The film begins with the marvellous mechanical potato harvesting machine. Potato is a root crop, and as we watch the little 'potato tubers' being scooped from the earth, a few words about the fascinating history of the potato are delivered, going all the way back to the 'kindly Incas' of ancient Peru.

Truck by truck, the harvest is carted off to the sorting rooms, where machines grade the potatoes according to their size. Big ones for baking, little ones for salad, and medium ones for crisps.

In the crisp factory, every day is a 'Fry Day', and here the potatoes have actually come to life! You will hear them snoring in the crates, taking a well earned rest as they recover from the shock of being uprooted. They chatter and laugh as they are whisked along the conveyor to be washed. Not that they have much to be cheerful about because soon they will skinned, sliced, and thrown into a vast tank of boiling oil!

Once cooked, the potato slices go for a spin in the flavour duster. Then they are weighed out into equal portions and packed into special air-tight bags. This is done by an ingenious weighing and sorting machine that adds together a collection of random little weights to make the right weight for each bag. Bags that fail the quality controls are cruelly rejected by a blast of compressed air, but the rest go off to the shops.

Duration: 6:56

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This film is also available on the DVD:
'The Magic of Making - Volume 3'.