ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- As Frito-Lay begins a national rollout of its no-fat Wow! potato chips, Wegmans Food Markets here has debuted its own fat-free salty snack -- What a Chip!
The private-label potato chips are neither baked nor do they contain a fat-free substitute. Through an extraction process, "the fat is squeezed out of the fried chips in a pressurized container, forming bead-like droplets on the chip's surface," Mary Ellen Burris, the chain's director of communications, wrote in her electronic news column. "These fat drops are then sucked out by vacuum, leaving the flavor sealed in." The method leaves the chip with less weight and at least 50% fewer calories than regular chips. A serving size of about 13 chips contains 70 calories.
Company officials declined to comment further about the process, including the name of the company that developed it.
Introduced last month, the chips are sold in 3.8-ounce bags that contain the same amount of chips sold in the traditional 6-ounce package, Andrea Zuegel, the company's communications specialist, told SN.
What a Chip! packages are merchandised in the salty snack section and retail for $1.99.
At present, the company does not plan to expand the line into other flavors.
When asked whether the advent of olestra, the fat replacement used in Wow! chips, inspired Wegmans to create What a Chip!, Zuegel said, "Like any retailer, we want to serve the needs of our customers who are looking for low-fat products that taste good."
Olestra, marketed under the brand name Olean, is supplied by Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati. Last month, Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas began a national rollout of its olestra-containing Ruffles and Doritos under the Wow! label. P&G is also supplying olestra to Nabisco Holdings, which is test marketing olestra-containing Wheat Thins and Ritz Crackers in Colorado and Indiana. P&G also plans a national launch of olestra Pringles later this year.
Olestra is controversial because it can cause adverse health affects in some people. Packages contain a warning that olestra can cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.