How storm chips became a bad-weather staple in Atlantic Canada
HALIFAX -- It's a sound that has become just as common as gusty winds and heavy rain during hurricane season – chip bags being opened up in homes throughout Atlantic Canada.
The term 'storm chips' has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the region, with chip aisles wiped clean upon the arrival of nasty weather.
Lee El-Rabahi of the Hydrostone Groceteria in Halifax has been working in the grocery business for more than 30 years, and noticed the craze pick up over the last few years.
"We overstock when we know the weather is going to get bad like Hurricane Dorian," El-Rabahi said. "People say 'we're coming to pick up our storm chips.'"
So where did this salty silver lining to hurricane season begin?
The hashtag #stormchips first appeared on social media back in 2014 after being mentioned on a popular local radio show. Since then, the saying has become a part of Atlantic Canada's identity and culture.
Howard Ramos, a political sociologist and adjunct professor for Dalhousie University, says that viral memes and phrases give people a sense of belonging and community.
"Storm chips took off because people can relate to it," Ramos said. "In situations where people don't have control, we look for things that give us something that resembles control. Buying chips is something inexpensive we can do that makes us feel like we're doing something to prepare for the storm."
Ramos also noted that the phrase has expanded to include other guilty pleasures, such as storm pizza, storm chocolates and even storm wine, but they haven't caught on the same way.
Local companies and organizations were also quick to jump on the storm chip bandwagon.
Earlier this year, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) put out a beer and wine storm chip pairing guide, while New Brunswick's Covered Bridge Potato Chips released the ultimate snack with four of their most popular chips, a so-called 'flurry of flavours.'
"We trademarked the name within the first two or three weeks of the craze," said Ryan Albright, the president and CEO of Covered Bridge Potato Chips. "Over the winter, we figured out a way to develop how we were going to go to market the next year. We're now selling coast to coast and are even selling that product in the U.S. now."