Detroit Woman Keeps Better Made Potato Chips Fresh
In recognition of National Potato Chip Day on March 14, we check in with Better Made Snack Foods' quality and sanitation manager, Carolena Curry
Riding down Gratiot in Detroit, you can sometimes smell the Better Made potato chip factory's savory aroma from blocks away.
"There's nothing like a hot chip," Better Made quality and sanitation manager Carolena Curry says as she strolls through the sea of shiny, industrial machines. "The only bad thing is that I've gained a little weight since I started working here."
Curry, born and raised in Detroit, earned a degree in food science from Michigan State University. She's held jobs in the beverage, produce and even meat industries, but when she got to Better Made, she felt at home. Her role is to ensure that all of the products are up to par with the company's standards.
"We have the original owner's children running the place. They are the matriarch and patriarch," Curry says. "We see them daily. They are an intricate part of the operation. It's a good feeling. It's a family-owned business, and I think that's why it has lasted so long—because of that bond."
That's evident by the way Curry and other employees interact: waving, smiling and joking.
"We have people that have been here for 30 years; we also have people who have only been here for two months," Curry says. "We're a very close-knit family. That's a big part of why the company has been here so long. We all work together, and we're from all walks of life."
While they do have fun on the job, Curry says their first priority is putting out a great product. This facility processes an estimated 200,000 pounds of potatoes every day, most of which hail from Michigan for about nine months out of the year.
"It's really a pretty quick process; fairly hands-free," Curry says. Potatoes are washed, peeled, sliced, fried and go up a conveyor belt for packaging.
Better Made remains local, distributed mostly in Michigan and parts of Ohio and Illinois.
"We're working to expand, but you have to take care of home first," Curry says. "We want to remain the classic chip company that everyone knows and loves."
"We're a very close-knit family. That's a big part of why the company has been here so long."
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