Back in the 1950's my parents lived across from the Better Made factory on Gratiot Ave. in Detroit, MI.
Occasionally they would watch through the front window as the chips came down the conveyor belt and eye the workers removing the burnt chips off the line.
My father recalls them being put into bags marked "Rainbow" and being given away to the kids watching from the outside.
Who knew that these kids would grow up to be the Voice of the Customer and help launch a new item.
A burnt chip is considered a defect and was almost eliminated from the process.
Burnt chips were created by inconsistencies in the heating oil, and high sugar content in the potatoes.
By improving the processing of the chips and changing the sugar content of potatoes being grown, these defects became fewer and fewer.
Instead of just giving them away as a defect why not try to market it?
While most companies would just get rid of these defective chips Better Made saw an opportunity to change a process waste into a revenue generating item.
Demand was greater than the defect rate so they created a process to mass produce them.
The demand for the product outstripped the supply so Better Made worked with farmers to create a spud that would continuously yield a dark potato chip with the right burnt flavor.
Ironically a lightly golden potato chip would probably now be considered a defect for this product.
I spoke to my dad about the chips earlier today. He said it was like getting french fries from Burger King and accidentally finding an onion ring. An unexpected but pleasant find. Maybe BK should take a few pointers from the VOC. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to french fries/onion rings at BK.