Chip Spice, the spiced salt condiment has been part of the culinary landscape of Hull since 1979, when it was introduced by restaurant owner John Science at his innovative burger bar Yankee Burger. John took over the Pioneer Cafe on Jameson Street from his father, and set about transforming it into an American style fast food joint, one of the first of its kind not only in Hull, but the country. McDonald’s had only arrived in the UK in 1974, and hadn’t yet spread across the country.
Previously John had owned the infamous Gondola Club on Little Queen Street, off Jameson Street. Known for playing host to some of the biggest acts of the 60s and 70s, and closing in 1975 after riots caused by a performance by Hull’s avant-garde performance art rebels COUM Transmissions, in 1975.
John was supplied with Chip Spice by Rod & Brenda Wilson, who owned the local Spice Blenders company. They had come across the idea of spiced salt and paprika based seasoning, while visiting the United States in the late 70s. They developed the concept at their small food seasoning company, which supplied meat and food seasoning to butchers and the food service industry both locally and nationally. The story goes that Spice Blenders supplied John Science with Chip Spice, and that he added his own never disclosed “secret ingredients” to the mix.
Anyone that grew-up in Hull during the 80s and early 90s has fond memories of the long Saturday afternoon queues at Yankee Burger, to get their hands on a bag of their fries, smothering in the golden condiment called American Chip Spice by Spice Blenders. The popularity of what became the Yankee Burger franchise, would see John opening his 50s inspired kitsch drive-through restaurant, on Hessle Road. Famous for having a pink Corvette perched on the roof, which didn’t actually land on the restaurant until 1993.
By 1991 another food seasoning company existed in Hull, Phoenix Select, which had developed and was producing its very own Chip Spice recipe, which was sold under the name Yankee Chip Spice. Rather than there being a “spice wars” in the city, they hoped to tap into the ever increasing demand in the market for the spice. As chip shops and take-away outlets around the city took to adding Chip Spice to their range of condiments they offered to their customers. So by 1992, there were two rival spice blends in the city. Via a local sundries supplier (Joynson’s on Anlaby Road) the Phoenix Chip Spice was distributed through-out Hull into chip shops, kebab houses and cafes. Although customers were rarely aware that they were consuming different versions of the spice in different food oulets, due to close similarity of taste.
Both recipes changed over time, as salt was reduced, due to “sodium legislation” and the ground celery was removed, due to its classification as an allergen. Phoenix Select was sold to a global American food company in 2013 and ceased trading in the city, and Yankee Chip Spice was discontinued as a product.
However American Chip Spice from Spice Blenders went on from strength to strength. Spice Blenders was sold to the DL group in the mid 2000’s and still manufactures seasonings in the city, the original American Chip Spice brand which is still going strong was kept by the Wilson family and is now manufactured (were the family resides) in the south west of England, it is sold in ASDA, Morrison’s and various other outlets mainly in and around Hull.
The above first got posted here – but the chip spice I was used to in Bev was a salty bugger.