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Did a 1959 Russian visit to York contribute to a 2015 Russian Orthodox warning?

Russian crab potato chips.  Photo from www.nowthatsnifty.blogspot.com
Russian crab potato chips.
Photo from www.nowthatsnifty.blogspot.com

My previous post quoted a December 5, 1959 York Gazette and Daily article on the visit of Russia’s First Deputy Minister of Trade and Agriculture to two York County potato chip makers, El-Ge and Bon Ton. The Russians were very interested in the process of making our style of potato chips, taking advantage of their vast potato crops.

How did they succeed? Evidently very well, according to a sampling of Google search results.

A headline from the October 25, 2015 Moscow Times caught my eye. It reads: “Russian Orthodox Official Warns Eating Potato Chips is ‘Sinful.’” Beneath a photo of unnamed crispy chips, the article begins: “Orthodox believers should shun unhealthy foods such as potato chips and products made by corrupt manufacturers because they are sinful, Moscow Patriarchate deputy speaker Roman Bogdasarov was cited as telling the Interfax news agency by the RBC news website on Sunday. ‘The Church has laid down a strict rule—sin is that which harms human health,’ Bogdasarov said. Problematic products include foods containing ‘various trans fats, alcoholic beverages of poor quality, potato chips, energy [drinks]—everything that negatively affects a person’s health,’ he was cited as saying in the report.”

The article explains that the recommendations were in response to a letter written by a Russian Public Chamber member to Russian Orthodox Church leaders “’proposing the introduction of an Orthodox equivalent for the Muslin halal and Jewish kosher religious food labels,’” saying that “’such an approach would…not only confirm the high quality and safety of the product but would assess its advantageous impact on people’s spiritual and physical health.’” The Public Chamber is an institution that was created about 10 years ago that seems to be kind of a liaison between the Russian government and citizen concerns.

The largest worldwide producer of potato chips is Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of Pepsi. Even though there are Frito-Lay factories in Russia, it still is an American based company. A 2013 internet article says 60% of Frito-Lay’s snack food sales come from outside North America, and Frito-Lay’s top ten markets include the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, China and India. As I noted previously El-Ge was one of the chip companies that eventually became part of Frito-Lay, and the Frito-Lay plant west of York was originally an El-Ge plant.

According to a 2012 post on the “nowthatsnifty” blog on Lay’s flavors around the world, the most popular in Russia were Chicken, Ham and Cheese, Mushroom and Sour cream, Crab, Red Caviar and Shishkebab. These flavors are pretty tame when compared with some other countries.

To read my many previous potato chip posts follow this link or go to www.yorkblog.com/universal and do a search.