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Half tortilla, half potato chip ‘batting 1,000 at retail’, RW Garcia CEO says

By Maggie Hennessy , 04-Oct-2013
Last updated the 08-Oct-2013 at 20:11 GMT

In a world that has seen such unlikely yet brilliant combinations as taco shells made of Doritos and tornados made up of man-eating sharks, why not a chip that’s half tortilla, half potato?  

San Jose, CA-based Tortilla chip manufacturer RW Garcia aims to create a new category in the already crowded salty snack group with Tortatos. And so far, the first-of-its-kind, hybrid potato-tortilla chip has been well received by retailers.

“Right now, if I were in the Major Leagues, I would be batting a thousand,” Bob Garcia, founder and CEO of RW Garcia, told FoodNavigator-USA. “We’ve had no turndowns at retail so far. It’s been very successful, and it’s verifying our belief in the product.”

It took two years and a lot of trial and error to develop Tortatos, a proprietary blend of stone-ground white corn and red potatoes. Garcia said that the exact ratio of tortilla to potato will have to remain a secret, though Genelle Chetcuti, director of marketing, divulged: “We like to say it’s a little like a tortilla chip and a lot like a potato chip.

“It’s a great alternative to traditional chips, with 25% less fat—but it still gives the taste of a potato chip that people crave,” she added.  

Available varieties are original (“more of a kid favorite”) as well as BBQ, salt and pepper, and salt and vinegar (“more adult flavors”). Moreover, the chip pairs well both with tortilla chip dips—salsa, bean dips and hummus—and traditional potato chip dips. Like the rest of the RW Garcia product line, Tortatos are all natural, additive- and preservative-free, Non-GMO Project-verified, and gluten-free-certified.

RW Garcia is targeting consumers in their 30s and 40s, though the product also shows a lot of promise among children. “We chose to get the Kids Kritic Seal of Approval, which reinforces the appeal of the product among kids as well as parents,” Chetcuti noted. The Kids Kritic seal is a list of approved foods and beverages that offer families healthier supermarket options.

Margaret and Bob "RW" Garcia

The manufacturer plans to eventually distribute Tortatos nationally, though currently, it is focused on penetrating the markets in its home region of the West Coast, as well as the Northeast and Texas. Its existing products are available in retailers including Whole Foods Market, Safeway/Vons, Wegmans, Stop&Shop, Giant Carlisle, Harris Teeter and Central Market, along with health and specialty stores.

“We’re really excited about the potential of this product,” Garcia said. “It speaks for itself when the consumer tastes it.”

“It’s a versatile chip and a whole new category,” Chetcuti added.