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Food

Ballreich says chips break new ground

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Ballreich Bros. of Tiffin says a new product, Flavor Your Own potato chips, offers the tastes of pizza and chili cheese fries.

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TIFFIN -- Haley Thomas is boldly going where no one has gone before in the evolution of potato chips.

Ms. Thomas, director of sales and marketing for Tiffin-based Ballreich Bros., said the company is rolling out a line of potato chips flavored like pizza and chili cheese fries.

She said officials hope the chips, which consumers season themselves and put into a conventional or microwave oven, will help the company to grow.

"It's a flavor-your-own gourmet potato chip kit," Ms. Thomas said. "It allows the customers to mix and match the flavor to their own taste."

The "Flavor your Own" chips include a variety of seasonings and can be modified to a customer's liking.

The box doubles as a microwavable tray -- a design that is being patented by the company, Ms. Thomas said.

Each box contains a potential of up to four flavor combinations, she said. The number of combinations can increase if other ingredients are purchased for the chips, which is one suggestion the company makes in its recipes, she said.

"They taste amazing," Ms. Thomas said. "We had so much fun developing them here. It smelled like a pizzeria."

The chips will be sold in Kroger stores across the country. They retail for $4.99 and are available in select stores for the launch, Ms. Thomas said.

Kroger Co. did not return calls seeking comment. If the launch is a success, the product could be sent to other stores, Ms. Thomas said.

Ballreich has about 75 employees, a number that could expand depending on how well the chips do, said Brian Reis, president and chief executive officer of the company.

The business could add up to eight people if the snack is an immediate hit and possibly could reap multi-million dollar profits if it becomes ultrapopular.

"It's something that if it takes off could be a product unto itself," Mr. Reis said. "The size and magnitude of what we're doing now, it can go from there. It's a very big product."

The idea behind the chips was developed in 2007, but the company did not start working on them until last year, said Ms. Thomas, who is Mr. Reis' daughter. Eventual flavors could include taco or something as outlandish as cinnamon roll -- the possibilities will be driven by consumer demand, she said.

"If it takes off, it could double, triple, or quadruple our size very quickly," she said.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.

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