Last year, Popchips's popped potato crisps sacked the snack aisle to the tune of $73 million. This August, CEO Keith Belling is bringing his company's segment-changing approach to the $4.5 billion tortilla-chip game. We had Ivy Stark, the corporate executive chef of New York City Mexican chain Dos Caminos, evaluate Popchips's signature tortilla flavor, Chile Lemon.
Belling: The popping process is the same as with potato chips, but we spent a year adjusting the heat and pressure to get a texture that wasn't brittle.
Stark: They nailed it. Nice crispness and crunch, and it doesn't break when dipped. I tested it in our guacamole to be sure.
Belling: Potato Popchips are circular, but we wanted these to be like the triangular tortilla chips people know and expect.
Stark: Chips are made by cutting a circular tortilla into wedges that get fried, so the shape adds authenticity. Plus, circular chips break too easily—not good for dipping.
Belling: It was important to us to have strong flavors so the chips will be good without dip.
Stark: The seasoning is just right—flavorful, but won't overpower a dip. Plus, corn tortilla has no allergens and no gluten. By making it so people can eat these without dip, it adds a healthy option.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.