I can't be the only one who's curious!

On a recent trip across Michigan my travel buddies and I made a pitstop near Portland, Michigan and happened to come across something you don't see very often: a giant oversized can of potato chips.

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To be fair, it was actually a farm silo painted to look like a chip canister but-- why?

I suppose if Kalamazoo can have a Big Banana Car then Portland can have a giant chip can, but I wanted to get to the bottom of this mysteriously large food item. Turns out there's a pretty interesting story behind it! Here's what I found:

A New Era of Chips

Did you know that Detroit was once considered a mecca for potato chip production? At one time there were nearly 20 potato chip companies in the Detroit area like Better Made, Uncle Ray's, and New Era Potato Chips.

Owned by Nicolay-Dancey Inc., in the 1930s New Era was reportedly Better Made's fiercest competitor. Branded as a "healthful food" that was "scientifically processed", at one time New Era operated 3 factories in Chicago, Ohio, and Pittsburgh before eventually selling the company to Frito, who was then absorbed by Lay's.

Over time Lay's dropped the "New Era" branding from its name and it was simply called "Lay's Potato Chips"-- neat!

Lauren G/TSM
Lauren G/TSM

But the Silo, Though

According to the Portland Beacon the original silo was built in the 1940s by Isadore Shrauben to store feed for the farm. According to his son Dewey, Isadore was offered an annual sum of $99 a year to paint the silo to advertise New Era's potato chip brand.

Eventually the company stopped paying the family and there were several attempts to paint over the design, but in 2005 the family decided to bring back its original chip-advertising form.

Reports the Beacon,

It hasn’t been torn down for its sake of being a cherished building that has been around for a long time. It is a well-known building and carries many memories and reminders for anyone in connection with it including the Shrauben family and now Chris Smith who is the current owner.

The giant canister is truly eye-catching and a piece of Michigan history! I hope Chris and any future owners of the farm continue this potato chip tradition. If you're ever passing through Portland it's worth a stop!

Find directions to the silo here.

If Chips Were Made Of "Michigan Flavors"

I might eat some of these.

Michigan Potato Chips