Made in Georgia: Potato chip brand had a spicy start

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Starting a potato chip company was not where the Anderson family originally was headed. Chef Andre’ Anderson had developed an herb-and-spice mix while cooking in Las Vegas restaurants. When Anderson retired, his son Dondre convinced him they should start a spice company.

Marketing their spice mix, they found that it sold best when people could give it a try. Dondre started setting up demonstrations in stores, and offering samples of the mix sprinkled on fresh vegetables and popcorn. One day, he had the idea to put it on potato chips. His then-young daughters, Amina and Amari, were there to help.

Customers loved the flavor, but it turned out what they really wanted to buy were the seasoned chips. And, so, Symphony Chips was born, and now Amina is vice president of marketing and Amari is vice president of supply chain management for the company in downtown Atlanta.

Credit: Dondre Anderson

Credit: Dondre Anderson

The Symphony name came from Andre’ Anderson, whose philosophy is that everyone should be harmonious.

Starting a business and learning about the world of potato chips was eye-opening. “There’s a whole world of potato chip connoisseurs,” Dondre Anderson said. “I had never even heard that term before, but it turns out there are people who love potato chips, and they are looking for something different from the run-of-the-mill potato chip flavors in the market.”

In 2017, Symphony potato chips came on the market seasoned with Andre’ Anderson’s original spice mix. Looking at the top-selling potato chips, the Andersons next launched a smoked flavor — their version of barbecue chips, which Dondre Anderson said is the nation’s second-favorite potato chip flavor. “My dad and I decided to go after the barbecue connoisseur, creating a flavor that would taste like it just came off the grill,” he said.

The next flavor they created was balsamic, to appeal to those who crave salt-and-vinegar-flavored chips, the third most popular flavor. “We knew using balsamic vinegar would elevate this one, and adapted our seasoning mix to go along with the vinegar,” Anderson said.

They built their online business gradually, until a marketing experiment paid off in a big way.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“Our company exploded when Instagram influencer Tabitha Brown agreed to try our chips,” Anderson said. “I remember it was 4 p.m., March 14, 2020, when I got a text message that we had five orders. Five minutes later, we had 300 orders. We finished the day out with 2,000 orders. Tabitha had posted a video about the chips, and her followers wanted to try them.”

Three months later, the company was showing off its chips on “Good Morning America.”

Originally, the chips were sold only online, but now they also can be found at select Target stores and at the Nourish + Bloom autonomous grocery store in Fayetteville.

And, the company is coming full circle, as the Andersons look to relaunch their spice line, then develop more potato chip flavors.

They’ve also started Symphony Crumbs, a nonprofit to provide training options around manufacturing careers.

“We named it to pay homage to George Crum, a Black man who was the inventor of the potato chip,” Anderson said. “We offer second chances, including for those who are nonviolent offenders. We will teach them how to bring a product to market and create a pool of workers who will be positive contributors to the community.”

As part of this effort, the family is looking at building a manufacturing facility in Georgia, which would provide employment opportunities.

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