The humble packet of crisps. It’s amazing how a small bag of fried, thinly sliced potatoes can elicit such emotions. Don’t believe us? Just try asking a group of friends or colleagues about their favourite. Everyone has an opinion, usually fiercely held. Now there’s a new kid on the block and it’s only available on Virgin Atlantic flights. From June, we’ll be serving an intriguing new variety – Honey, Butter and Sea Salt – hand-cooked by Fairfields Farm in the UK.
The flavour was the inspired suggestion of Chet Hansra, our inflight services food and beverage manager. He first fell in love with it while on holiday in Korea, where the unusual combination is popular. At the time, he was working with Fairfields Farm to develop a new flavour crisp to serve onboard in all three cabins and this seemed like the perfect fit.
“Fairfields Farm Crisps are a British company. They use renewable energy to power their crisp factory, and they were really open to our ideas,” said Chet. “Together we developed this flavour to give our customers a new experience they wont be able to get anywhere else.” The crisps will be available onboard from 1 June.
The humble crisp has been an essential British snack for nearly 200 years, with the first recorded recipe found in Dr William Kitchiner’s 1822 cookbook The Cook’s Oracle. Kitchiner’s crisps were little more than potato peelings deep fried in lard, but thankfully we’ve come a long way since then, with Crisp Nation listing over 800 flavours and varieties to satisfy our needs. So, what goes into the modern-day production process? We spoke to the chief crispmakers at Fairfields Farm to find out.
- You have Robert and Laura Strathern to thank for your crispy treats. The married couple first started making crisps in 2006 and every potato used in the process is grown on their farm in Essex.
- Perfect potatoes need perfect conditions to grow. They require a good balance of warm weather and rain; any extreme weather conditions can cause abnormalities. The potatoes grown by Robert and Laura are a British variety with a texture just right for crisps. They’re handpicked and sorted and stored at a chilly 2 degrees Celsius before being turned into your favourite snack.
- The crisps are completely sustainable. From 2017 all of the energy used to farm and manufacture the potatoes into crisps is generated from renewable sources. Robert is incredibly proud of his ‘concrete cow’ (an anaerobic digestion plant for the scientists out there), which converts waste products, such as maize and potatoes, into gas that can be used to power the farm.
- No flavour is off limits. Laura in particular is passionate about trying new flavours and if she thinks something will work in a crisp, then she’ll try it! She may have been slightly sceptical when Chet first approached her with the honey, butter and sea salt idea, but was happily soon won over.
- These crisps are the only cross-cabin food we serve. Whether you’re travelling in Economy, Premium or Upper Class, we love these crisps so much we think everyone should be able to try them. You’ll also find them in our Virgin Holidays v-room stores.
A sweet and friendly choice
Chet has also been working on introducing a choice to our landing sweets. For a few years now we’ve given out the classic British favourite Love Hearts just before landing: research shows that sucking on a sweet might help anyone who has problems with popping ears as the aircraft descends. Always on the lookout for something new and interesting, Chet has now mixed things up with an unusual, tropical-flavoured, sugar-free variety of Fisherman’s Friend, a flavour not available anywhere else in the UK. The famous pastilles were established over 150 years ago by a pharmacist in Fleetwood, Lancashire, and alongside our Love Hearts the new Fisherman’s Friend sweet will certainly freshen you up for landing.
Find your winning golden ticket
And finally, If you’re travelling in Economy between the UK and the USA or Caribbean in the next three months, keep an eye out for a sensational and potentially prize-winning ‘Very naughty, nutty nougat chocolate bar’ by the Grown Up Chocolate Company. These delicious bars are part of our afternoon tea service and consist of creamy white chocolate nougat covered with a layer of buttery caramel and hazelnuts, encased in milk chocolate.
Throughout June, July and August there’ll be five golden tickets hidden in the bars, and if you discover one of these lucky slips in yours, then you’ll have just won two return tickets to New York. Happy hunting!