It will come as no surprise to devotees of the humble potato crisp, that legendary crisp producer Pipers, have been voted Britain’s Best Brand of savoury snack. This is the seventh year, on the trot, that the Lincolnshire-based company has won this award, which results from an annual survey of speciality food products on sale in Britain’s delicatessens, farm shops and food halls.
Pipers are a brand which has seemed to come from nowhere, which kind of ties in with the founding of the company, by three Lincolnshire farmers back in 2004. I first became aware of Pipers at one of CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festivals, and looking back, this would have been some time during the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.
In a clever manner, Pipers acted as one of the festival’s sponsors, and I clearly remember grabbing a handful of crisps from one of several “help-yourself” bowls, laid out on the company’s stand. They were so good, that I returned, several times, eventually buying a couple of bags to assuage my guilt at scoffing so many freebies!
I stopped attending the GBBF a few years ago, but Pipers and their stand, were still a regular future of the event right up until the last festival I attended. Pipers’ sponsorship of the festival was a canny move on the company’s part, as it brought them to the attention of thousands of discerning beer drinkers, who Pipers knew would be looking out for their brand in their local pubs, and indeed asking their local licensee to stock them.
The three farmers behind the brand describe themselves as passionate people, driven by a desire to deliver the best taste and quality possible, without any gimmicks. The company’s aims is to produce great tasting, quality crisps using local potatoes, and to achieve this they work with carefully selected flavour partners who care as much about their products as they do.
Seeing Pipers crisps on sale is something which, for me, turns a good pub into a truly great pub, as the fact that the licensee has chose to stock this brand, means that he or she is someone who cares about the products sold and this care and consideration will extend to the choice and quality of the beer offered by the pub as well.
So if I notice the brand on sale, I will always buy a packet, even if it’s just to take home and eat later – or even the next day.
Note of caution: I'm old enough to remember how crisp giant Walkers also started out from humble beginnings, and how, back in the day, Walkers was the brand which devotees of quality potato crisps looked out for. So there is an inherent danger associated with rapid growth, and the inevitable incremental loss of the attributes which attracted people to the brand in the first place.