SEB Mailbag: The divine “Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips.”

I got the following email from Mary today and thought I’d share it here:

Subject: gospel and chips

Ok, you’re from Michigan.  What’s the deal with these Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips?  I picked up a bag of cheesy poofs at the corner store, brand I hadn’t tried before.  Really cheap, figured I’d give ‘em a shot.  Opened the bag – pretty tasty.  Bag has a story printed on the back – chapter 7 of The Life and Times of Uncle Ray.  Cute story about how his grampa got him to not use tobacco by giving him a little chaw (he swallowed the juice, never tried tobacco again).  Underneath it all is a quote from Deuteronomy 11:19 about teaching your kids.  I’ve never heard of preaching and potato chips going together before.  Any clues?  They seem to be from out of De-troit.

Uncle Ray's Chips

I stopped for a moment and pondered if I had ever seen a bag of Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips and I can’t say that I ever have. Intrigued I did a Google search and came across the official Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips website. Lo and behold it is indeed a local company out of Detroit, Michigan that does print inspirational messages and Bible verses on their bags of chips. I boggled. I’ve never heard of them before, but they’ve been around since 1965 (technically – he didn’t use the brand name “Uncle Ray’s” until 1995). Here’s a snippet from their “Our Company” section:

Late one night in 1999, Ray woke up from a sound sleep. He had the urge to sit down at his kitchen table and write about his life’s memories. He began to write the first three chapters to the many stores you now read of the back of our products.

Ray has over 30 chapters of “The Life and Times of Uncle Ray”. He felt compelled to send a message to those eating his product. “If someone was ever contemplating suicide, drugs, stealing, or whatever life’s troubles bring you, I want you to know that you are not alone”. “Everyone has bad days and I want to be there with a message”

Potato chips as suicide prevention? Well, OK I suppose. I can see it now:

Person A: “Help! David’s threatening to jump from the top floor of the office building!”

Person B: “Quick! Give him this bag of Uncle Ray’s Cheesy Poofs and hope to hell he reads the back of it!”

But wait, it gets better. It seems Uncle Ray has been profiled by none other than the 700 Club in an article titled Uncle Ray’s Divine Revelation:

Ray spent two weeks in the hospital and received a blood transfusion. “When I got out of the hospital, I told Myrna, ‘There is a God. I don’t know who He is, or where He is, but I’ve got to find Him. I can’t live any longer without God.’

“Later on I realized that I had lost enough blood that I should have been dead. I was dead. I left my body. There was no question in my mind. The Lord saved my life, so He could save my soul.

“I finally felt a peace that I’ve never experienced in my life, and I found for the first time what I was seeking in my life, in alcohol, and anything else the world can offer and that’s His peace.”

And with that peace, Ray says that God began to work in other areas of his life. “The Lord gave me ideas and plans,” he says. “It was like a master business person talking to me. In my mind and heart, I knew I had the right answers. I went forward, and that year we made $85,000 profit.”

That’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time. I need to nearly bleed to death from drinking too much and then I’ll finally earn the big bucks. Assuming God is kind enough to punt my soul back to earth with a master business plan.  But wait, it gets even better still:

He’s a Jenkins! In particular his name is Ray Jenkins and looking at his picture on the 700 Club site I’d have to say he could possibly be family. The problem with the Jenkins side of the family is that my father was considerably older than my mother. As a result, quite a few of my relatives on that side of the family are, naturally, considerably older than I am. Add to that the fact that I barely know a lot of people on that side of the family as my biological father has been dead since I was five and there’s every possibility I could be related to Uncle Ray.

But I doubt it. Although if he wants to write me into his will then I’d be more than happy to give my blessing to his chips in spite of the religious messages plastered on the packaging.

So, I hope that answers your question, Mary. Uncle Ray’s chips have those little stories and Bible quotes because Uncle Ray nearly bled to death from some unspecified alcohol related illness and found God who apparently wants him to spread His Word via the wondrously influential medium of chip packaging.