Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Funny meme, serious money: The business of the #StormChips phenomenon

Chip companies are riding a social media wave and recording big profits with every winter storm.

Chip companies are enjoying a sales boom, thanks to social media trend

Old Dutch manager Geoff Connors gives Zach Goudie a tour of the potato chip warehouse. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Inside the Old Dutch Snack Foods warehouse in Donovan's Industrial Park in Mount Pearl, workers are busy moving mountains of potato chips.

"The guys came in here as early as 4:30 this morning," says warehouse manager Geoff Connors. "They're excited."

Everyone's buzzing about one thing: the big winter storm in the forecast, and what that means for the chip business.

It's exciting and it's fun at the same time.- Geoff Connors

"The sales go through the roof," said Connors.

Connors has been in the chip business for over 20 years, and said bad weather has always driven people to stock up on snacks.

But in the last few years, storms have seen chip sales surge like never before — and it's all because of #StormChips.

From hashtag to cashbag

The term "storm chips" was coined in 2014, and has since become an Atlantic Canadian phenomenon.

But Connors said it's moved beyond the realm of social media and become a serious business opportunity.

"It certainly is a thing," said Connors.

Just how big of a thing is a bit of a trade secret, but Connors said winter storms are now nearly as a big as Christmas, as far as chip sales are concerned.

An Old Dutch warehouse workers pulls a pallet stacked high with cases of chips. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

The chip industry is now riding a wave that began on social media and is being largely driven by customers, instead of the company marketing department.

"There's pictures being sent back and forth, what's your favourite storm chip, people are talking," he said. "It's exciting and it's fun at the same time."

Stocks are depleted

Before a storm hits, delivery drivers will restock the shelves at more than 150 retailers in the St. John's metro area.

"They obviously take bigger loads onto their trucks, and some of them, you'll see them back here again today because the inventory, which is usually enough for one full day, is not," said Connors.

Chip stocks on store shelves are depleted during winter storms like never before, says Old Dutch warehouse manager Geoff Connors. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

When a storm actually hits, Connors said the company pulls the trucks off the road, regardless of how bare the shelves may be, and the warehouse workers do actually get storm days off.

But with #StormChips driving sales like never before, he said workers deserve to relax with their own favourite flavor.

"When the storm day comes, they deserve that day off because they worked hard."

About the Author

Zach Goudie is a journalist and video producer with CBC in St. John's, NL.

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