Ham's Restaurant Reaps Harvest of Rave Reviews From 'healthy' Potato Chips Taste Test in Chapel Hill

Ham's Famous Homemade Potato Chips are better cooked with trans fat-free cooking oil, restaurant patrons say

Chapel Hill, N.C., Dec. 3, 2003 -- Ham's Restaurant in Chapel Hill recently hosted a taste test for its famous homemade potato chips, prompted by the restaurant's decision to switch from traditional commercial cooking oils to trans fat-free Whole Harvest Cooking Oil.

The decision begged the question: Do the chips still taste good now that they are made with the healthier cooking oil?

The answer was an overwhelming "yes," according to the surveys given at the taste test. Over eighty percent of the participants gave the chips high ratings.

A total of 51 volunteers participated in the taste test, which ranked the chips on a scale of one to five. A one or a two on the scale indicated the customer did not like the chips at all, whereas a four or a five indicated that the customer liked the chips a great deal.

Eighty percent of the taste test participants ranked the homemade chips either a four or five - the top ratings. Forty percent rated the chips a five, the best rating. Only one participant gave the chips a rating lower than 3. More than half of participants said they liked Ham's homemade potato chips better than typical potato chips, and 92 percent said they would order the chips in the future.

The taste test also served educational purposes for most of Thursday night's participants. Most (92 percent) of the customers said they did not know that Ham's Restaurant had switched to the healthier, Whole Harvest cooking oil. About 72 percent said they would be more likely to order foods fried in Whole Harvest cooking oil in the future.

According to the survey, 50 percent of the participants had heard of the dangers of trans fatty acids. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 30,000 or more premature heart disease deaths are caused each year by trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils. Doctors have recently been suggesting that people get checked for high cholesterol levels for the first time at age 20.

Chad Tuttle, who said the chips tasted "great," said that his impressions of Ham's Restaurants changed when he found out they were now using the trans fat-free oil for all of their baking and frying needs. "If it's better for me, I'm for it," Tuttle said.

The health factor was a major reason for the restaurant's decision to switch to Whole Harvest cooking oil. "As more Americans face a decline in general health, it has become more necessary to provide healthier options in regards to food and dining," Creech said. "That's why we are excited to continue to offer our customers the same great-tasting food while using a much healthier product."

As Meghan Conine said Thursday night, the great taste of Ham's hasn't changed since switching to the healthier oil. "They [Ham's potato chips] taste great. I get them all the time."

Whole Harvest, a new trans fat-free cooking oil, is rich in Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. Whole Harvest is 100 percent soybean oil, made through a patented process that does not involve harsh chemicals or additives. The process gives Whole Harvest a longer fry life and shelf life, which saves restaurants money.

Ham's Restaurants of Chapel Hill is located at 310 West Franklin Street. Whole Harvest cooking oil is being used at Ham's Restaurants' 16 locations in North Carolina and Virginia.


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