What do peanut butter and jelly potato chips taste like?
“The peanut butter flavor leads with the strawberry jelly lingering,” said Joanna Tarner who, along with her husband, Don, relies on their secret recipes to cook unusual flavors of chips.
The Tarners said they have been having a blast since January when they launched their business, Atomic Potato Chip Co.
“We like to think of our flavors as being explosive,” Joanna said.
Residents of Moore, the Tarners lease a nearby commercial kitchen at the Business Incubation Center in Arco to cook custom batches of chips.
“Our demand has grown so much we’re working seven days a week and processing 900 pounds of potatoes,” Don said. “We’re doing this because we wanted feel-good jobs — to do something gratifying with our lives that would make people smile and benefit the community.”
Their other unforgettable flavors include Campfire, Fry Sauce, Sal’s Brooklyn Pizza, Smokey Bacon Cheddar Horseradish, Roasted Garlic Parmesan, Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips, Buttery Garlic Sweet Onion, Salt Lake Plain, Naked and Free — Unsalted, and the Big Cheese. Their tortilla chip flavor is Cheesy Spicy Taco.
“We didn’t want to make run-of-the-mill flavors,” said Joanna, a commercial cook. She credits “God’s divine inspiration for delicious fun flavors that keep popping in our heads. You think they wouldn’t work, but they do. I’ve got a few more flavors in mind — like Truffle Butter. I can’t wait to hear what people say.”
When the Tarners thought of starting a potato chip company, they cooked sample batches at home with two small Presto electric fryers and asked for their friends’ opinions.
“They told us what they liked and didn’t like,” Joanna said.
To make certain flavors, Joanna works closely with a seasoning company to produce ingredients and make a powder to sprinkle on the chips. They also use Redmond Real Salt, a natural salt with no additives that is mined and packaged in Utah.
They say their chips differ from those sold in the stores because they use Russet potatoes and fry them in peanut oil.
“Most snack companies use chipping potatoes that have a consistent white color,” Don said.
Joanna said they like Russets because “they give our chips a baked potato flavor and golden color. Our chips aren’t purely white and may not look perfect, but they’re delicious.”
Wanting to support Idaho farmers, they buy potatoes from Wada Farms in Pingree.
They chose peanut oil “because it’s healthy and leaves a nice aftertaste,” Joanna said.
Confident of their recipes and production, they obtained licensing to sell directly to the public.
“We thought about selling in grocery stores but changed our minds because we couldn’t keep up with demand,” Don said.
Instead, they cook custom batches based on orders placed via texts and Facebook. Their clients pick up their munchies at farmers markets — Ketchum on Tuesdays and Hailey on Saturdays. Their booth at the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market in Pocatello will resume on Saturdays starting Oct. 9.
They also sell directly out of their Arco kitchen Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and welcome those who want to taste samples.
“We ask people to call or text before coming to make sure we’re there,” Joanna said.
Don said, “We don’t know where this adventure will lead us, but we’ve loved the ride so far.”
The Tarners take orders through Facebook, Facebook Marketplace and text messages or calls to 208-220-7401. A 9-ounce bag costs $6 or $7, depending on the flavor.