Milwaukee Chip Co. founder Michael Moeller is a potato chip purist. When he digs into a bag of the salty snack, he wants to taste the main ingredient: the potato.
A lack of local homestyle potato chip options led Moeller to start making his own.
“Basically, I found myself wanting a style of potato chip that I could not find on the shelves here,” said Moeller. “There’s something about mass-market chips I’ve found where all that potato goodness had gone away and what you were left with is basically a vehicle for oil and salt.”
He began his endeavors with the thought that making his own potato chips would be more of a side business. Moeller cooked his first few batches in his apartment but quickly found that the state’s packaged food laws required him to make a bigger commitment to the business.
Moeller said Milwaukee was uniquely situated to support his business due to the agricultural knowledge so many businesses have and the large amount of food manufacturing that goes on here.
“I had to brute force this. I did not have a recipe when I founded the LLC in March of 2020,” said Moeller. “I made probably 1,000 different varieties of potato chips and just got better and smarter each time.”
The company started out by renting commercial kitchen space in Upstart Kitchen but has since moved into its own 2,500-square-foot facility at 73rd Street and Bradley Road in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Chip Co. currently has two flavors of chips: classic and a spicy variety, called “space heater.” More flavors will be unveiled late next year. All chips are cooked in canola oil and come from russet potatoes.
Moeller has taken a made-in-Wisconsin approach to his product. The company’s potatoes are sourced from Okray Family Farms in Plover. Packaging is made by Belmark Inc. of De Pere and Milwaukee Chip Co.’s logo was designed by Milwaukee-based Good Land Creative.
The company’s chips are currently available in two different Sendik’s stores and various metro Milwaukee micro-breweries. Moeller said he’s working to get his chips into more Sendik’s stores and to generally scale up his business.
“We want these chips on a lot more shelves,” said Moeller. “They pair perfectly with local micro-brews and craft cocktails, so as far as I’m concerned, they belong at every brewery in town.”
Milwaukee Chip Co.Location: Milwaukee
Founder: Michael Moeller
Goal: Scale the business
Experience: Bachelor’s in economics from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis