Saturday, 12 January 2019

Piper at the gates of dawn


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.

13 comments:

Etu said...

The writer's block didn't last long then, Paul?

Good to see it!

Cheers,

E

Attacker of the Killjoy said...

Tried them. They're boring. Seabrook's, mostly. Or Golden Wonder.

Etu said...

For what, exactly were you hoping, KJ?

The sky to be filled with exploding supernovas?

They are just crisps, after all.

Walkers are fine for me, as is the wise, urbane Gary Lineker, btw.

Attacker of the Killjoy said...

You could try Tayto Cheese and Onion. Or Golden Wonder Pickled Onion. Or Lancashire Crisps Sweet Chilli.

Paul Bailey said...

Over the writer's block, for the moment at least, Etu. I'm a plain crisp aficionado, rather than someone who prefers flavoured varieties.

Also there's nothing wrong with Walkers, it's just that I see Pipers as being a few steps up from them. Tayto are good too, Killjoy (strange moniker, btw), but I'm not a fan of Seabrook's, as they are far too greasy for my liking.

Etu said...

Yep. Non-flavoured for me too, bar maybe cracked black pepper.

I'm not over-enamoured of these so-called kettle chips, which can sometimes be more like formica shards.

Martin Taylor said...

Reading this I wondered if you'd got the Pipers sponsorship deal I've been angling for on my own blog for years ! I always head for the Pipers Man when I go to Manchester Beer Fest. Their crisps are certainly not "just crisps". We have Corkers Crisps just up the road from us, perhaps they'll sponsor me (in crisps).

RedNev said...

"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."

This has of course also been true for quite a few breweries, regionals as well as micros, who find they've come up with a winner. The temptation, or perhaps sometimes the demand, for ever greater quantities often results in the beer becoming a bland echo of the original.

Bradshaw's Ghost said...

Pipers Crisps are currently in the process of being taken over by PepsiCo:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46107734

Of course, a big plus point of Seabrooks and Golden Wonder is that they don't use Gary Lineker in their publicity.

Paul Bailey said...

I wish it was true about a sponsorship deal with Pipers Martin, although I’m happy to see CAMRA profit from this relationship at its beer festivals. It also means more opportunities for me to enjoy the crisps.

Not such good news about Pepsi launching a bid for Pipers though, BG. A taste of things to come – if you’ll pardon the pun, but with the Yanks keen to buy up the UK family silver, in a post-Brexit world, this is precisely why we need people like Gary Lineker to fight our corner.

Nev, I wholeheartedly agree about decent beer brands becoming shadows of their former selves, when they are rolled out to a wider audience. Examples are almost too numerous to mention!

Etu said...

...and what a good time for them to buy, with Sterling-valued assets being available at knock-down prices, thanks to YKW.

Etu said...

PS, now, who is that blogger, who begins so many of his sentences with "Of course"?

It'll come to me soon...

;-)

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