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Snacking on History: How Chiz Curls Came to Be

Lance Gokongwei shares the story.
by Clara Rosales
Dec 16, 2020
Photo/s: from JG Summit Holdings Facebook page

In 1966, food company Universal Robina Corporation launched Chiz Curls, a puff snack dusted in orange cheese flavoring and packaged in the unmistakable blue plastic. The packaging's style has evolved over the years, but the vibrant blue and chunky font stuck, along with the snack's signature cheesy taste, which remains popular until today.

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In a video call with Summit Media journalists, Universal Robina Corp Chairman Lance Gokongwei shared how Chiz Curls, one of the brand's first snacks, came to be.

Gokongwei recounted how his father, the late industrialist John Gokongwei Jr., visited his brother James L. Go at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. There he stumbled upon a magazine all about snacks.

"My dad happened to visit [Go] in the hospital, I suppose the only magazine available there was some snack magazine, with all the equipment of snacks. And my dad got interested," Gokongwei shared.

"I guess the first machine he brought in was an extruding machine that makes Chiz Curls," he said. The snack became an instant hit upon its launch and remains a favorite to this day.

The puff snack is known for its cheese variant but "there was prawn curls, barbecue curls and the like." Apart from Chiz Curls, Gokongwei also made special mention of Chippy, which he called "the first runaway hit we really had."

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The chip snack was made out of corn, which was not sought-after globally, but enjoyed popularity in countries like Mexico and the Philippines. Today, Chippy comes in flavors like barbecue, chilli and cheese, and garlic and vinegar.

Filipinos may love corn chips, but potato chips will have a special place in their hearts. According to Gokongwei, URC's most popular snack is Piattos, which comes in cheese, sour cream and onion, barbecue, and even pizza flavors.

Sharing the first place spot is Nova, a multi-grain snack made out of corn, rice, wheat, and oats, which yields a grainy crunch and a unique sweet aftertaste.

Gokongwei's go-to bag of chips? "My personal favorite is VCut barbecue," he revealed, down to the flavor.

(Editor's Note: Lance Gokongwei is president and CEO of JG Summit Holdings, which includes URC and Summit Media Group, which publishes reportr)

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