The scene late last Friday afternoon, January 9, along Jarves Street was somewhat incongruous for a January day.
For starters, state police vehicles with blue lights had blocked off the road at Main Street and Route 6A.
Two Lay’s potato chip vans were parked diagonally in front of Beth’s Bakery and Café. A drone about as big as a breadbox buzzed about 50 feet overhead.
Sets of bright white spotlights set up outside the building shone into the bakery, where a crowd of people milled around eating lobster roll-flavored potato chips and other food, followed around by other people with microphones on booms and film cameras on their shoulders.
“Play That Funky Music” boomed inside the bakery. The tune suddenly stopped. Everyone exclaimed, “Woooo!”
If all that sounds suspiciously like a production of a television commercial touting Lay’s new flavored potato chip, you would be exactly right.
Last Friday and Saturday, production crews shot footage for the commercial, taking in sights including the marina, the Boardwalk and the munchfest inside Beth’s.
The drone buzzed overhead, contributing its own footage to that shot by human beings on the ground.
While the commercial showed people enjoying the chips, the maker of the chip, Frito-Lay Inc. of Plano, Texas, produced a bag for the chip which celebrates Sandwich, Massachusetts.
While the front of the dominantly red bag showcases a photograph of a lobster roll, the subtle backdrop reveals the Sandwich Boardwalk.
“Sandwich, you’ve inspired us!” is the heading for the message on the back of the bag.
“After getting to know your town, we learned that Sandwich, Massachusetts, is so much more than a yummy name,” the message continues. “It’s a place that’s full of many inspiring and interesting flavors!”
And the flavor that really excited Frito-Lay’s corporate taste buds turned out to be… a sandwich. In fact, a lobster roll sandwich.
What is a $13 billion snack food corporation to do, if not seek to capture that flavor in a potato chip?
But last week’s shooting was the culmination of a process that was months in the making.
Jay Pateakos, executive director of the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce, said a production company got in touch with him about its interest in filming in Sandwich.
Mr. Pateakos had his doubts whether anything would come of it, but provided cooperation and information. One day, company representatives showed up at the chamber office, seeking his help in scoping out the town for locations.
He learned that they were filming chip commercials in historic towns around the nation, and that Sandwich had drawn their interest. The town’s name, in the sense of something that goes well with potato chips, turned out to be a coincidence.
So that is why people of all ages shed their winter coats last Friday outside Beth’s and went inside to eat the new Lobster Roll chip.
Sandwich’s student body was amply represented inside the bakery. Among those giving favorable reviews to the chip were Isabella Hassler, 13, and Connor Sullivan, 17.
The general sense from munchers on-scene is that Lay’s had, in fact, achieved the flavor: not on the initial taste, which they said came across like sour cream and onion, but following a four- or five-second delay.
Bob Jarvis, an owner and chef at The Pilot House, predicted that this summer, the Lobster Roll chip will be “the greatest potato chip in history.”