Back in May of 2010, I composed a post about a brand of potato chips manufactured exclusively in my home state of West Virginia—the legendary Mister Bee. They were my favorite chips as a kid growing up, and one of the many things I missed when we left the Mountain State to relocate in the State of Peach.
Recently, I acquired a little extra jingle in my pocket from doing some outside assignments…and so I proposed to Mom that we purchase some Mister Bees; we hadn’t had any in a long, long time. The company offers a three 16oz. bag deal that, with s&h, would run me just a little over twenty bucks. I signed on the dotted line.
The shipment arrived yesterday…and I’ll say this for the Bee people: they’ve improved where shipping is concerned. In the past, the bags we’d bought had a high crumbs-in-the-bottom content…but the chips in our recent purchase were intact for the most part. An hour or two after dinner, I opened one of the bags and dumped the contents into two bowls for Mama and me…and I poured her a glass of wine. We prepared ourselves for a potato chip taste fest of orgiastic proportions.
Two words: Oy. Also, vey.
I don’t know what they did to the chip recipe…but to say that we were disappointed in the results would be a major understatement. “These taste like Wise Potato Chips,” I remarked in revulsion; Wise being a brand that I loathed and despised as a kid…but which my mother would buy for herself because she knew us kids would avoid them like a vampire does garlic. (Wise does, however, make a brand of “Cheez Doodles” that sister Kat goes cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs for. But just the “crunchy” style. If you get her the “puffed” kind, woe be onto you.) Mom was in agreement, and got a bit upset because I shelled out all that money for something that we believed was going to be a real treat…yet the chips came up short. But hey…some days you eat the bar, and some days…the bar eats you.
My mistake was not checking out some of the responses from other dissatisfied customers expressed on the company’s Facebook page…although in my defense, I’m not sure why I needed to, since I believed it was going to be the same delightful snack food from my youth. It demonstrated, however, that Mom and I were not just being potato chip dilettantes; apparently, we are not alone in noticing that the quality of the chips has gone from zero to shitty in 5.2 seconds. (I have included a few observations from a thread on that page—only the names have been initialed to protect the innocent.)
“Whatever you changed, change it back. These are awful.” – S.A.
“Please please please go back to the old chips everyone loved.” – T.D.W.
“I have purchased a few bags recently and I would appreciate it greatly if you would go back to using the oil you used before! The chips taste like Lays and I hate Lays!” – L.S.
“Drove through Parkersburg and bought a bag about a month ago and was SOOO disappointed. Ate a few and threw out the rest. Don’t know what you did, but I wish you’d go back to the original recipe!” – J.D.
“I purchased them exclusively for many years. I don’t buy them at all anymore because they taste nothing like they used to.” – J.P.
And my personal favorite:
“If they still taste like Snyder’s, why bother?” – J.M. (I was never a fan of Snyder’s, either.)
“Mister Bee chips aren’t what they once were, and the same is true of Snyder’s barbecue chips and Snyder’s cheese puffs……and Broughton French Onion dip as best I can tell,” notes Forrest D. Poston, the gentleman who inspired me to get into this writing racket while I was still in high school. “I would guess that changes in most chips include lowering salt and oil levels and perhaps changing the type of oil used. Much more than that in the barbecue chips.” (Indeed, there were one or two people expressing loud concerns that Mister Bee’s barbecue brand had lost its luster as well.) There was a time back in March of 2006 when the company monkeyed with their chip process in order to eliminate trans fats (they used a blend of soybean and cottonseed oils before switching to 100% cottonseed) and there were folks who complained about the changes then, too. I guess Mister Bee has reached the point where they’ve decided “haters gonna hate” because I saw no one address the concerns expressed at the diminished quality of their product. (Comments I made to their Facebook page went unanswered…though again, outside of “Yeah, we know the chips suck—whaddya gonna do?” there may not be much recourse.)
Interestingly, Mister Bee has added some new flavors to its potato chip stable: they have jalapeno potato chips (or as a friend of mine and I used to jokingly pronounce it, “Jah-la-pen-ow”) and a salt-and-vinegar brand that I gave serious consideration to purchasing for Mom until I saw that the total to ship that large order of chips came to nearly fifty clams. (My windfall wasn’t that large.) So, in conclusion…if on the off-chance you read my original post where I bragged about Mister Bees to the point where you went out a dropped a dime on some to try for yourself…mea culpa. I have hereby renounced my allegiance to the company to the point of even “unliking” their Facebook page…and taking comfort in the wise words (and TDOY mantra) of Mr. DeVries.