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TATER TALE: HISTORY OF HOD SANDERS’ CLOVER CLUB CHIPS READS LIKE AN O. HENRY STORY.

SHARE TATER TALE: HISTORY OF HOD SANDERS’ CLOVER CLUB CHIPS READS LIKE AN O. HENRY STORY.

Bill and Hillary. Napoleon and Josephine. Fred and Ethel.

Hod and Clover.All are well-known couples . . . if you're a native Utahn.

And if you are, you'd also know that Hod and Clover Sanders were responsible for starting up a premier potato chip factory nearly 60 years ago in Kaysville.

This tater tale reads like an O. Henry story.

The main character is Newell V. Sanders, nicknamed "Hod" for an uncle named Horace (go figure).

Born in Kaysville in 1900, and raised in Farmington, Hod learned to work when very young. He was 5 years old when his mother was left alone to raise seven children.

After graduating from Davis High, where he was a star athlete, he was unable to move on to college due to the lack of funds.

But after four years of work, he was able to finance his education at Utah State Agricultural College in Logan (now Utah State University).

Sanders took the campus by storm. He became captain of the Aggie football and basketball team, excelling in both.

In 1927, he graduated with a business degree but was unable to immediately find the type of job in which he could set the world of business on fire.

That fall, he took a coaching job at South Cache High School, where he fell in love with Clover Johnson, the girls' physical education teacher.

She was also was smitten, and soon afterward they married. Practically penniless, the young couple moved to New York hoping to "make it big." They didn't. Both found jobs with the American Telephone Com-pany.

A year later, they moved cross-country to California, the "land of opportunity."

Hod began working for the National Biscuit Company. All the while, the couple dreamed of someday owning their own business, although at the time they didn't know what it would be.

They examined several "opportunities" - from commercial mushroom farming to raising frogs for . . . frog legs.

Hod constantly tried to improve his financialpicture, looking for better employment. Industry salaries were meager, and jobs were scarce.

Answering a newspaper ad for a route salesman for the Bluebird Potato Chip Company, Hod went to work and began formulating his plan to start a business.

He absorbed all he could about the potato chip business and wishfully had some potato chip bags printed up bearing the Sanders name.

They called their dream venture "Hod Sanders Clover Club Potato Chips."

"Clover Club" for the alliteration.

Then, in 1938, as the Depression was waning, the Sanderses moved back to Kaysville. Their possessions consisted of a car, Clover's beloved piano and $600 in savings.

Their relatives were glad to welcome them home but were less than delighted about their bold chip-making fantasy.

Here, the Sanders saga becomes strangely familiar. That's because the story was printed on each bag of Clover Club Potato Chips produced, with caricatures of Hod and Clover, telling us why their potato chips taste so good.

On a 1973 bag of chips (that sold for 37 cents!), Hod told his story:

"We live in a quiet little country town of Kaysville, Utah, about 17 miles north of Salt Lake City. Almost all the folks here have some cooking specialty like homemade chili sauce, apple pie and chokecherry jelly. Clover always made the best potato chips in town - or in the world, for that matter . . . "

Clever . . . makes you think of home-cookin', not factory food.

Hod continued, "So that's why we decided to go into the potato chip business back in 1938. Clover was willing to trade in her piano on a used truck, and with help from the bank we were in business. I did the potato buying and selling to the grocery stores while Clover supervised the production."

Sanders told how Clover Club Chips were delivered to local grocery stores and treated "as carefully as a mother hen checking her brood."

Over the years, the company acquired numerous regional chip and snack companies, expanding their product to include tortilla chips and various snacks.

Clover Club Foods was purchased in 1983 by food giant Borden Inc.

Borden retained the Clover Club name, but the down-home aura of the Sanders' company changed to a production-oriented plant. The product suffered.

In 1994, Clover Club was acquired by Country Club Foods but had merger problems and financial losses. Peterson Interests of Dallas bought the company last year, bringing in a new management team with local roots.

Within 80 days of the acquisition, the company achieved the first positive cash flow since the merger.

The new management team is determined to restore their good products to the original Hod and Clover excellence.

How? By returning to the "home-style" roots that included high quality, neighborly attitudes and great-tasting snack products.

Their goal?

To become a chip off the old block.

*****

Recipes

CHICKEN & RICE CASSEROLE

3 to 4 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup celery, chopped

2 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 cans cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup water

Meat from 1 cooked chicken, diced

1 or more cups crushed Clover Club Golden Potato Chips

Combine mayonnaise, water and soup to make sauce. Mix remaining ingredients into sauce. Pour into large casserole dish and top with crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 8-10.

- Each serving contains 684 calories, 41g fat, 938mg sodium, 193 mg cholesterol, 57% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods

EASY CHILI WITH CORN CHIPS

1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

1 28-ounce can tomatoes, cut up

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 1/2 tablespoon ketchup

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3 30-ounce cans Hunt's chili beans

Salt and pepper to taste

1 7-ounce bag of Clover Club Corn Chips

Brown ground beef and onion in large pan. Drain. Add tomatoes, chili powder, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and cumin. Mix well. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add canned beans and heat through until hot. Place layer of corn chips on serving plates. Spoon hot chili over chips. Serve. Serves 8.

- Each serving contains 638 calories, 33g fat, 2044mg sodium, 89mg cholesterol, 46% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods

QUICK POTATO CAKES

3 cups crushed Clover Club potato chips, any flavor

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 eggs, beaten

Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place chips in bowl; add water and mix well. Let stand for two minutes. Add onion, eggs and pepper; blend well. Shape by tablespoonfuls into flat patties. In large skillet, brown quickly on both sides in hot oil. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 16 snacks.

- Each snack contains 248 calories, 17g fat, 208mg sodium, 26mg cholesterol, 24% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods

TUNA CASSEROLE

8 ounces curly noodles, cooked

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 small can tuna, drained

Small package frozen peas

Garlic salt to taste

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Milk, if too thick

1 cup (or more) potato chips

Cook noodles; drain well. Add undiluted cream of mushroom soup, drained tuna, frozen peas. Season with garlic salt. Add milk if mixture is too thick. Sprinkle grated cheese over casserole. Crumble potato chips on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 842 calories, 46g fat, 1365mg sodium, 110mg cholesterol, 64% calories from fat.

- From Janet Hill

FISH AND CHIPS TIDBITS

1 pound sole fillets, fresh or frozen-thawed, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup finely crushed Clover Club Potato Chips, regular or Sour Cream & Onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat fish with chips; arrange on baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until fish flakes with fork. Serve piping hot. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 389 calories, 21g fat, 348mg sodium, 53mg cholesterol, 29% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods

TIDBIT A LA ROMA

1 pound bulk Italian sausage

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon basil leaves

24 LaFamous Nacho Cheese Tortilla Rounds

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In skillet, brown sausage, stirring to break up meat; pour off fat. Add tomato sauce, garlic powder and basil; simmer 15 minutes. Arrange nacho rounds on baking sheet. Top each chip with about 1 tablespoon sausage mixture and a strip of cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until cheese melts. Serve hot. Makes 24 appetizers.

- Each appetizer contains 111 calories, 8g fat, 412mg sodium, 21mg cholesterol, 11% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods

CHICKEN SOPA

2 cups chicken broth

1 8-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves

1 cup crushed Clover Club Corn Chips

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1/2 cup chopped mild green chilies, drained

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium saucepan, combine broth, tomatoes, onion and oregano; cook 10 minutes. In lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish, layer chips, chicken, chilies and cheese. Pour broth mixture over all. Bake 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 6.

- Each serving contains 420 calories, 21g fat, 819mg sodium, 74mg cholesterol, 29% calories from fat.

- From Clover Club Foods