One crisp at a time

    Tyrrels, englischen Kartoffelchips.
    © Tyrrell
    Von Lois Hoyal

    Yes, the UK voted to leave the EU; and, yes, it’s a shame. It doesn’t mean we don’t like their high-endLuxus-high-end crispKartoffelchipcrisps, though. Few other nations could take the humblebescheidenhumble spud (ifml.)Knolle, Kartoffelspud and make it into a snack quite so posh (ifml.)nobel, feinposh.

    You may have seen them in your local supermarket: Tyrrells hand-cooked crisps present themselves as very English. The firm’s entertaining marketing formula, which has worked so well in the UK, seems to be working here, too: crisps from Tyrrells have become a hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Is it the eccentric packaging that pushes Europeans to buy them instead of other brandMarke, Sortebrands, or is it just the plain fact that the crisps taste so unbelievably good?

    Worth a packet

    The story of these crisps started at Tyrrells Court Farm in Herefordshire, England — a county in the West Midlands on the border with Wales. The region is famous for its potatoes, thanks to its rich clay soilTonbodenclay soil. Farmer William Chase had started to trade in his farm-grown potatoes, but facing bankruptcyBankrott, Konkursbankruptcy, he decided to make something original out of his crop instead. The idea of premium crisps was born, and in 2002, Chase set upgründenset up Tyrrells.

    Since then, Tyrrells has become very well known, to scoop upabräumenscooping up a handful of prizes, such as the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2013 and nine gold prizes at the 2014 Great Taste Awards. Despite being sold in 2008 and again in 2013 for £100 million to Investcorp, an investment company in Bahrain, all crisps are still made on the Herefordshire farm from the finest local potatoes, such as the Lady Claire and Lady Rosetta varieties. “They’re the names of the potatoes, not the farmers. Just to be clear,” jokes the company website.

    The remark is typical of the English humour on which the Tyrrells brand is built. The company style is “to be playful, to be ready to laugh and be eccentric”, explains Iris Frenzel, who is product manager at Tyrrells in Germany. “Although we’re serious about making the finest crisps in the world, we don’t take life too seriously, and this is reflected in our eccentric personality.”


    English eccentrics

    You need only look at the packaging to to graspbegreifen, erfassengrasp Tyrrells’s quintessentiallydurch und durchquintessentially English style: the largely black-and-white photos on the front of the coloured packets portray unnamed eccentrics from the last century. Take the “naked” no-salt crisps: the packet shows four naked English ladies dancing on a lawn. The tag line (ifml.)Slogantag line to readhier: lautenreads: “Some things in life are best enjoyed with nothing on, and this is one of them. We’ll say no more...”



    The smoked paprika crisps take eccentricity a step further with a photo of a fire-eating lady sitting next to a housewife who is drinking her cup of tea. “Little in life rocks our socks quite like that secret weapon of the Spanish cook, the properly peppery smoked paprika,” reads the marketing text. Then there’s the lightly sea-salted packet, with three women wearing old-fashioned bathing costumes to attemptversuchenattempting a handstand on the beach. “Delicious at the seaside,” Tyrrells boasts. The images are weirdseltsamweird, but charmingly so.


    Some things in life are best enjoyed with nothing on, and this is one of them. We’ll say no more...


    Frenzel says that in the early days, the company would launch flavours inspired by the funny pictures they had found. To accentuate its quirkinessSchrulligkeitquirkiness, Tyrrells even grew red and blue potatoes just to make a red-white-and-blue packet of crisps — the colours of the Union Jackdie britische FlaggeUnion Jack — in time to celebrate the royal jubilee in 2012, the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throneThronbesteigungaccession to the throne.

    Happy Germans

    Tyrrells was the first to introduce hand-cooked crisps to the German market. That was in 2005. Now, the company sells seven differently flavoured crisps in Germany, as well as two flavours of vegetable crisps (beetrootrote Beetebeetroot, parsnipPastinakeparsnip and potato; and sweet potato, carrot and potato). Tyrrells exports its crisps to more than 30 countries, but Germany remains a key market. In 2015, the DACH (German-Austrian-Swiss) region made up roughly 15 per cent of the company’s international sales. “The crisp market in Germany is really very strong,” says Frenzel. “Germany is one of our focus markets and extremely important to us.”

    The eccentricity of the packaging and the fact that the product is typically British is largely what appeals to German consumers, explains Marion Junge, marketing manager at Tyrrells. “They love the product, because you’re playing with them,” she says. “It’s not the boring normal packet of crisps. The packaging makes it immediately obvious that the crisps are something special. It is basically saying that if you’re English, you will not take everything seriously.”


    Ask the kid

    A favourite in Germany are the company’s sea salt and cider vinegarApfelessig-cider vinegar crisps. Second in popularity is sweet chilli and roasted pepper, followed by savouryherzhaft, pikantsavoury veg (ifml.)Gemüseveg, then smoked paprika and lightly salted.

    For Munich teenager Paulina Fischler, it was a packet of sea salt and cider vinegar crisps that gained her attention: “The design convinced me because I liked the mattemattmatte colours. Knowing that the crisps are English, I liked the fact that the old man on the front of the packet of crisps looks very English to me — what I would consider stereotypically English. I don’t really know any other English crisp brand, so I guess that already shows how much more effective Tyrrells are in bringing their origin across.”


    There is a growing snacking trend in Germany towards more natural products


    The fact that the crisps contain only natural ingredients also tends to win over the German shopper. “This is something consumers are looking for. There is a growing snacking trend in Germany towards more natural products,” explains Frenzel. Reduced fat and less salt also to comply with sth.etw. entsprechencomply with the demand for healthier snacks.

    High-school student Fischler agrees: “Something else that is very important to me are the ingredients. I like the fact that there is no palm oil in Tyrrells crisps, for example. And what I like is that I can see straight away that the crisps are vegan and therefore suitable for me as a vegetarian.”


    Keeping it natural

    Tyrrells also makes sure that all its crisps are produced in a natural way. The potatoes and other vegetables are washed and then slicein Scheiben schneidensliced thickly. “Nothing satisfies the soul quite like the colossal crunchKnirschencrunch of a proper thick-cut crisp. Scientific fact!” according to Tyrrells. And the skins are always left on. “peeledgeschältPeeled potatoes are fine for mashPüreemash, but for making crisps? A thousand times ‘No’. Well, that’s where the flavour and goodness is.” The crisps are then cooked in small batchhier: Portionbatches in a fryerFritteusefryer with sunflower oil. After a few minutes, they are transferred to a spinnerSchleuderspinner to reduce the amount of fat on them.

    “It’s just like making your own at home, really,” says Junge. The next step is to add the flavours, which come from all-natural ingredients. “For example, for cheese, we use dried cheese and not just cheese flavouring,” she continues.

    The company hopes that its crisps will to appealhier: gefallenappeal to the premium market in all age categories. “We know that our audience particularly love eating our crisps when they are with friends and family enjoying time together. We want to reach out to this audience, so that when they’re having a party or it’s a special occasion, or even if they just want to enjoy a Friday night in, they choose Tyrrells.”

    Popcorn’s next

    Will Tyrrells stop at crisps and savoury snacks? It seems not. This year, the company introduced its fancyausgefallenfancy popcorn — “poshcorn” — to Germany, and it is starting to build up distribution. There are four flavours on the market there: sweet and salty, coconut and caramel, sea salted and sweet. A limited edition “English summer” strawberry-and-cream version was also introduced over the summer months.

    Like the crisps, poshcorn is made or “popped to perfection” on the farm back in Herefordshire. Free of artificialkünstlichartificial ingredients and flavouring, and suitable for vegetarians, the popcorn is, according to Tyrrells, “living proof that we’re proper popcornnoisseurs”.

    As Tyrrells says, it likes to do things a bit differently. In the snack business, this formula clearly works.