- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Rap music is making noise in the snack-food industry. Rap Snacks, "the snacks with the rappers on them," sells 1-ounce packets of chips. A box of 48 bags goes for $9.99 on Rapsnacks.com.
Packages of Hot Cheezie Popcorn, Bar-B-Quing With My Honey and Back at the Ranch, to name a few, feature pictures of rap artists on the Universal Records label.
This venture between Universal Records and Philadelphia-based chip company Rap Snacks began in 1994, Rap Snacks chief executive James Lindsay said in an interview in XXL magazine. He said his company began with the idea that "kids didn't have anything they could relate to through the packaging."
Rap Snacks share shelf space with Chumpies and Homegirls, two other snack brands marketed toward urban youths.
They are produced by Glenn Weber's King's Potato Chips company, also based in Philadelphia. Chumpies and Homegirls, rap-speak for "buddies," are packaged in bags with cartoon images of youths dressed in funky gear.
"Potato chips aren't exactly ethnic," Mr. Weber told Oklahoma's News Channel 8, "but it's the way you package them and present them and the flavors that makes them different. Everybody eats chips, so you might as well eat the ones that appeal to your eyes and psyche."
The snacks are sold at corner delis in urban areas and are not yet on the shelves at the local grocer. Still, Rap Snacks caught the attention this week of trend watcher Dany Levy, creator and editor of DailyCandy.com.
"Time to represent," she writes. "The marketing geniuses at Universal Records are slapping their artists (Nelly, Master P, and Li'l Romeo, among others) where they've never bling-blinged before: on snack bags."
An article titled "Chip Hop" in the March issue of Maxim magazine says: "Word to your grocer: These chips are super fly."
XXL magazine says packaging has long been used to promote star images. "Forget the Wheaties boxes," it says. "The new thing is getting your grill on a potato chip bag, but being an athlete isn't gonna do it. Being a rapper will, and Rap Snacks is the company that will put your face in the bodegas."
Eve Marsan, product manager at Universal Records, told Oklahoma's News Channel 8 the chips follow marketing trends aimed at urban youths.
"They do that with everything now cigarettes, alcohol. Why not snacks?" Miss Marsan said.
Rap Snacks packages feature artists' biographies and music-store locations. Rap Snacks reportedly sold 2 million bags a week in 2002, while Chumpies and Homegirls sold 90,000 bags each week to distributors in Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Jersey.
Inside the phat-looking bags are old-fashioned ingredients: potatoes, salt and spices. Miss Levy says they "are not for carb-obsessed lightweights, but they sure do pack serious flava double meaning intended. Yes, yes, y'all."


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