Greetings from Jerusalem!  I made it here and am getting acclimated – will have lots of stories and thoughts when I return.  But here is a piece I wrote on the plane ride over regarding an “incident” last week.

I think most of us are trusting folk.  And by trusting I mean that we wouldn’t  think twice about reaching blindly into a bag of new potato chips to root around for the obligatory fistful.  In my lifetime, I must have done this a hundred times without incident.  But last week, there was an incident.  It was The Great Herr’s Potato Chip Incident of 2011 – and this will be the last I speak of it.

The whole debacle started innocently enough.  It was 2:15 in the afternoon and time for my scheduled Post Lunch But Far From Dinner and My Head is Bobbing snack.  These days I am eating with reckless abandon, so rather than choosing an apple or the 99%  fat free popcorn, I went straight for the bag of Herr’s Ripples.  What is it about the ripple or ruffle in a potato chip that makes it taste better?  The novelty of the fancy chip has never grown old on me.

So I broke open the new bag and the familiar whoosh of greasy potato chip smell was released into the atmosphere.  Ahh.  I reached in to grab my palm size portion when my palm struck something that was clearly not a potato chip. My hand shot out of the bag and, by the look on the dog’s face, I must have yipped or yapped because she looked like I was speaking her language.

From the feel of it, my finding appeared to be a large block of toast or some sort of gargantuan crouton.  It clearly wasn’t a body part or a frog so I felt it safe to inspect further.  I peered inside confirming what my tactile senses suggested.  It was a large… crispy… food-like…block of something.

This is not a potato chip.

Its moment like this – moments of pure awe and wonder – that you wish you were with a loved one to share the site before you.  Alas, I was alone.  With my giant, unexplained crouton. So I did what anyone would do, I took a pciture of it, replaced it in the bag and waited for Chase to come home.  After all, he of all my family members would LOVE this crouton.  My guess was that he might even name it – and keep it as a pet.  Hmmm.  Needed to discourage that right off the bat.

In the meantime, I called the friendly number on the Herr’s bag and left a message which tried to describe my finding with out sounding like a complete idiot.  My strategy here was to turn all my statements into questions by raising  my voice at the end to convey the level of my perplexity.  I think it went something like this:

Uh,….hi?  I’m calling because I just opened a new bag of Herr’s Ripples?  And there was something in there that clearly is not a potato chip?  It looks like the end of a loaf of bread?  That got burned in the oven? I think its food of some sort?  But I’m not sure?  Could someone call me back? Bye?

Around that time, the boys came home from school and their level of interest in the bag of chips did not disappoint.  What was even better was that Chase’s friend Kyle came home with them – and Kyle is ALWAYS up for a food related mystery.  I think he was the one who suggested we taste it.  I promptly suggested otherwise, although I was convinced it was some type of food that was terribly lost and clearly abused by its caretakers.  Sniff.   Maybe I would keep it as a pet.

The telephone rang shortly thereafter.  It was Herr’s.  The woman was extremely friendly and seemed to know exactly what I was talking about.

Does it look like a sponge or a burnt brownie or a piece of toast?
Yes!  It looks like all of those things!  What is it??
(I felt like a great archaeologist discussing my find with the expert professor who was about to tell me the value of the treasure.)
It’s starch.
It’s what?
Uh huh.
During the chip making process, the machine collects starch and sometimes it breaks off into the bag despite our best efforts for that not to happen.

She was kind, but not exactly apologetic, probably because someone who wasn’t going to sue hometown Herrs for emotional distress brought on by a large chunk o’ starch.

The Herr’s lady took down some packaging information, presumably so the dude on the assembly line that day could get some additional training.  I hung up the phone and returned to my life.  Chase and I debated having a funeral for Starchy. (I nixed this idea). I debated actually eating the rest of the potato chips in the bag. (Dave nixed this idea.) Life goes on – and we moved on.

A few days later we received some good coupons from the fine people at Herrs — three free bags of any kind of Herr’s product!  Starch free! 

I think I’ll stick with the chips.  Everyone deserves another chance and I really can’t resist those ripples.

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