Hashtagged as the #PerfectPicnic and held in a secret orchard location (well, secret at least until you RSVP’ed), the launch – in the leafy grounds of the Avila Carmelite Centre in Dublin 4 – by potato-growers-turned-crisp-makers Keogh’s of their summer, picnic-focused campaign, provided an opportunity for Dublin’s media to judge for themselves if crisps – and specifically, Keogh’s new multipacks – are indeed the perfect picnic food.
With crisps from across the Keogh’s range presented by the bucketful, there was no shortage of opportunities to test the fundamentals of the theory. The menu also included a poshed-up version of the crisp sandwich, with Irish brie and caramelised red onion; you could also treat yourself to balsamic-roasted baby potatoes and, later, potato pizza courtesy of Dave’s Wood-Fired Pizza.
Thirsts, meanwhile, were quenched with cocktails featuring whiskeys from Dublin’s just-launched Teeling Whiskey Distillery, while the attendees could lounge on a picnic blanket or hay bale, with mellow guitar sounds in the background and weather which – thankfully – obliged with a lack of rain. It was all rather idyllic and seemed a far remove from the crisps of picnics past (which certainly didn’t come with Teeling’s cocktails in tow). It felt, somehow, like crisps had all grown up. Keogh’s may only have been around as a crisp-making enterprise for about three years, but toddlers they ain’t.
As Tom Keogh, who manages day-to-day operations and is one of the driving forces behind the success that is Keogh’s, told the assembled picnickers, they trace their history as a family farming in the north county Dublin area back some 200 years or more, and it was declining sales in fresh potatoes in Ireland that led them, in about 2007, to look into the idea of making crisps.
“That set myself and a few members of my family on a trip around the world to find out how to make crisps. We knew nothing about it, but we just knew that if we were going to make crisps, we were going to make the best quality crisps that we could,” said Tom. He described the early days of the crisps business, when they converted an old potato store into a on-farm factory, and started with two employees: “One guy was a carpenter, one was a construction worker, they knew nothing about making crisps and today they’re crisp ninjas.”
Today, the company employs 25 people in the crisping enterprise and 50 people overall between the crisps and the farm, and have plans to hire another eight before the end of the summer. The company exports to 12 countries all over the world – you’ll find Keogh’s products in New York, London and on the shelf of the top department store in Shanghai. Their fresh potatoes are air-freighted to Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2-3 times weekly, while containers of Keogh’s crisps are now heading for the same destination.
Their new multipack – a mini potato sack containing two each of their most popular flavours, namely Dubliner Cheese & Onion, Atlantic Sea Salt & Irish Cider Vinegar and Roast Beef & Irish Stout – is the first premium crisp multipack on the Irish market and was developed in response to consumer demand.
Though it’s only been on the market for a few months, Tom says that the multipack is selling extremely well and is already starting to be exported. Whatever about perfect picnic food, it’s a product, and a company, that continues to hit a pretty perfect pitch.