Meet the two dudes behind Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips, a Charleston riff on America’s favorite snack food
PHOTO: Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips owners Andrew Trumbull (left) and Clayton Wynne take a snack break outside of their North Charleston kitchen.
It was “crunch time,” as they say: Andrew Trumbull and his Obstinate Daughter coworker, Clayton Wynne, were sitting in on a product brainstorming session for Beardcat’s, the restaurant’s sister gelato shop and retail market downstairs. Scanning the shelves, they realized something was missing: potato chips.
“We did a little research and found that there were no chip businesses in the state,” says Trumbull, who moved here seven years ago after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why aren’t there any potato chips in a town like Charleston, which welcomes so many locally made products and foods?’ And that’s when it clicked.”
The duo set off to create a snack that speaks to the palate of the Holy City, establishing Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips in 2015. Working with 100-pound fryers, a de-oiler, and a seasoning drum in a commercial kitchen in North Charleston, they craft an eclectic variety of flavors: “State Fair” fried pickle (Wynne’s favorite), Bloody Mary, spicy pimiento cheese, and mustard barbecue sauce. In each thick, crisp bite, the snacks evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of smoky cookouts with family and Sunday-morning brunch.
The chips vary from run-of-the-mill Lay’s because they’re produced with russet potatoes (rather than standard chipping potatoes) and seasoned with Bulls Bay salts. “They’re all made and packaged by hand,” says Wynne, a Coastal Carolina University business school grad, who joins Trumbull in cooking on the graveyard shift from five p.m. to four a.m. (when they have the place to themselves). “We have to make them ourselves if we want them to stand out.”
While the guys have their sights set on the Charleston market first—Lowcountry Kettle goods can be found at The Daily, Kudu Coffee, Lowcountry Street Grocery, Mercantile and Mash, and several breweries, as well as online—Wynne and Trumbull’s goal is to eventually expand throughout South Carolina. One unexpected advertisement came from Southern Charm cast member Jennifer Snowden, who posed with a spicy pimiento cheese bag on Instagram. “In the next two hours, we had Internet order after Internet order,” laughs Trumbull.
With a hungry fan base and two new flavors coming—including a classic salted version—the company is gaining ground in Lowcountry pantries, one bag at a time. Wynne says, “We’re a Charleston chip. We want you to be able to taste that.”