Potato chips were the first food I ever loved, part of the reason why I devoured this Fourth-of-July NY Times article on chips with relish. (Well, less relish as such than sour cream and onion dip.) The article doesn't get all the history of chips right -- the real innovation was the airtight plastic bag, which got chips out of big stale-making barrels, turning them from bar food into a crisp household snack. But it's a nice read all the same.
The best part, though, is this toss-away paragraph at the end:
Although chips are deceptively plain, they are powerful reminders of childhoods and hometowns. That’s why families send soldiers in Iraq their favorite local chips in care packages. Grow up in Detroit? It’s all about Better Made and a ginger soda pop called Vernors.
Oh, it's true! And Better Made has, like, zero distribution more than thirty miles from Gratiot Avenue. I had to schlep around town to find shops that sold it in Lansing.
Finding Vernors is a much easier proposition -- as it happens, I was lucky to find some, my first in years, at a South Jersey Wegman's this weekend. For years I've described it as a stiffer drink than ginger ale, more like Jamaican-style ginger beer, but that's not exactly right -- it's really more of a caramel-flavored ginger root beer. If you can get it, try it with vanilla ice cream. For reasons unknown to me, it's called a Boston Cooler.