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Child's Dietary Needs Spurs Mega Chip Business

Jackson's Honest Chips CEO, Megan Reamer, began cooking potato chips in coconut oil several years ago after her son Jackson began grappling with health issues. She found that foods high in "good" fats helped his condition. Her chips, she says, are not a business, but a part of "a movement to re-introduce healthy fats into the food supply."

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"We started selling potato chips cooked in coconut oil in August 2012 after about five years of making them for ourselves, our friends and family, for picnics, dinner parties and such," she says of her growing potato chip company.

"We chose coconut oil, because we only use 'traditional' fats in our home cooking: lard, tallow, palm oil and coconut oil," Reamer said.

She said they focus on these oils because they turned out to be an essential component of her disabled son's diet. The oils helped his digestion and his neurological condition.

"We kept hearing from our friends and family members that they tasted so good, so unique, that we should try to sell them," she said. So she did.

She contracted local farmers to produce a few different varieties of potatoes, started frying them up, bagging them and selling them at two health food stores near her home in Crested Butte, Colo. The success of Jackson's Honest Chips has surprised Reamer, the mother of the chips' namesake.

"We're still in a bit of shock that there is such a demand for potato chips cooked in coconut oil," she said. "Even more heartening, really, is the overwhelmingly positive response we've had to why we started this company in the first place: to highlight the role that nourishing traditional fats played in helping our family deal with my son Jackson's ongoing health crisis, and to bring those fats to market in snacks."

The reason Reamer eliminated vegetable oils from her family's diet, she says, was because her11-year-old son Jackson came down with an immuno-neurological disease for which there still is no name. She found that when she eliminated polyunsaturated vegetable oils from his diet — and substituted large amounts of "traditional" oils like coconut oil — his neurological condition improved significantly.

"Over the years, we came to realize that every single potato chip on supermarket shelves was made with one of the big three industrially manufactured vegetable oils: canola, safflower, or sunflower oil. So we did what anyone would have done: if we couldn't buy chips fried in coconut oil, we'd have to make them ourselves. Because we have three other younger kids who love chips, we started making coconut oil potato chips with regularity."

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"At the time we didn't have a sense of precisely why this was happening, but we didn't care: it worked so we kept on doing it."

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