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Beginning as a suitable snack for its namesake, Jackson’s is now a rapidly growing food producer.

Jenni Spinner, Chief Editor

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  • Jackson’s has focused on better-for-you benefits from the start
  • Shark Tank success helped fuel the producer’s early growth
  • Forging close relationships with partners and staff are a top priority

Jackson’s is a fast-growing snack producer with many ingredients to its success, but relatively few ingredients are used to produce its line of sweet potato chips. The clean-label treats are resonating not just with scores of consumers—people looking to eat better, folks dealing with dietary issues, and those who just want a tasty snack. Major retailers (Costco and Whole Foods are among the national stores showcasing the wares) also are showing the brand a lot of love—coincidentally, love is how Jackson’s got its start.

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At the beginning
Being a parent is tough, especially when one or more of your kids is dealing with an illness. This is definitely not news to Megan and Scott Reamer, whose son Jackson suffered with mysterious, frustrating symptoms for years before finally being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder.

The struggles didn’t end with the diagnosis, sadly. The disorder meant Jackson had an incredibly limited diet, because so many foods could trigger or exacerbate the symptoms.

“We were struggling to find convenient foods that met this restricted eating approach,” explains Megan. “As such, we ended up making most of our food from scratch.”

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Among the long list of must-avoid foods on Jackson’s anti-inflammatory diet were conventional potato chips. The refined seed oils most chips are fried in ignited his condition, so that particular snack was a no-go. Mom and Dad worked in the kitchen to come up with a snack that Jackson and the rest of the family could share and enjoy safely.

“One of the foods we made in our kitchen were sweet potato chips cooked in both coconut and avocado oils,” Megan explains. She, Scott, and their four kids happily munched on the chips—and soon, as they brought the homemade snacks out at gatherings, so did friends and neighbors offering the kitchen concoctions rave reviews. Demand in the Reamers’ circle exploded, to the point they soon grew out of the Dutch oven they used to make batches, to a huge pan custom crafted by a metal fabricator in their home of Crested Butte, CO. Delighted friends and family kept asking, “Have you thought about selling these?”

That question helped inspire the Reamers to take the first step from concocting home-fried treats toward launching what would eventually become a national chip brand.

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Getting off the ground
At the onset of the company, the Reamers had a number of formidable obstacles. While they had a winning recipe on their hands, and both had impressive educational and professional backgrounds, what they didn’t have was experience in launching and running a CPG brand. Getting a snack brand off the ground is challenge for even the most seasoned food pros, so the industry newbies certainly had their work cut out for in getting Jackson’s Honest (as it was first christened) off to a running start back in 2013.

“Having no background in the CPG industry, we experienced so much trial and error in the large-scale manufacturing of a chip cooked in coconut and avocado oils,” Scott relates. “Simply stated, polyunsaturated seed oils dominate the snack food business: from the supply chains to the manufacturing equipment, almost the entire snack food manufacturing business is optimized around these cheap, industrialized oils.”

Along the way, Megan says, the company benefited from joining forces with knowledgeable, supportive people.

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“It wasn’t easy, but we found partners that believed in us and our mission,” she says. “Co-manufacturers took a leap of faith with us and disrupted their standard operating practices to help create new production processes specifically for our premium oils. With of a ton of hard work and focus we were packaging sweet potato kettle chips and sharing them with the world.”

After successfully wrestling with the initial formulation and equipment issues, the company took off, quickly expanding to more than 30 SKUs across different salty snack categories, including potato and tortilla chips. Other challenges emerged, with more trial and error in experimenting with other snacks and struggling with achieving perfection, facing supply-chain and distribution headaches, and working hard to get attention and shelf space with stores.

“We worked through each challenge as best we could but ultimately realized we needed to mindfully scale to meet the demand for our chips without compromising on quality,” Scott says.


Photos: Jenni Spinner

As the company grew, they were getting noticed by people from all corners. A February 2017 Denver Post article got in front of the producers of product pitch show Shark Tank, and after careful consideration, the Reamers dove in, appearing June 2017. The high-powered business minds that judge the pitches—the “sharks”—are known for being tough on contestants, but the Reamers fared well. Shark Rohan Oza bit and finalized a deal with the company several months later.

We believed then, and now, that Shark Tank was an amazing experience that introduced our story and our products to a nationwide audience of consumers who have been supportive of our business but even more supportive of us as parents and entrepreneurs,” Megan says.

In September 2021, the company pivoted in a number of ways. Jackson’s Honest rebranded to simply Jackson’s; the outfit honed its product line to focus on cooking high-quality, heirloom sweet potatoes in premium coconut and avocado oils, and sharpened the packaging. They also brought manufacturing to a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot facility in Muskego, WI, situated in a region with a healthy population of skilled workers to help keep the production plugging along. To date, according to Scott, the plant is the only facility in the U.S. completely devoted to producing sweet potato chips.

Jackson’s product history


Sea Salt seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips

cooked in Coconut Oil

November 2013

Sea Salt seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips

cooked in Avocado Oil

January 2022

Carolina BBQ seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips
cooked in Avocado Oil

January 2022

Farmhouse Ranch seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips

cooked in Avocado Oil

March 2023

Habanero Nacho seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips

cooked in Avocado Oil

July 2023

Spicy Jalapeno seasoned Sweet Potato Kettle Chips

cooked in Avocado Oil

August 2023

Megan & Scott Reamer, co-founders

James Marino, CEO

Andy Malloy, president

“This pivot has proven fruitful, allowing us national distribution in major retailers as well as more flexibility in meeting consumer demand quickly during the last few years of immense supply chain delays and capacity issues,” Jackson’s CEO James Marino shares. “We are thrilled to be able to grow with our brand while sharing the mission centering around Jackson and advocating for the health and wellbeing of families everywhere.”

Perfecting the process
By maintaining tight control of the production and packaging process end to end, Jackson’s also keeps a good grip on the quality and supply chain, producing more than 600,000 bags of kettle-cooked sweet potato chips daily. The process begins with non-GMO premium sweet potatoes shipped in each day from farmers with whom the company maintains close working relationships.

Within the same day as their arrival, the fresh potatoes are quickly cleaned, sorted, sliced, and bathed in high-quality avocado and coconut oils. Then, the chips are dusted with carefully blended seasonings, cooled, packaged in various size bags, packed into cartons, and stacked onto pallets to await their journey to retailers across the country.

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Since pivoting two years ago during the pandemic to hone in on sweet potato chips cooked in avocado and coconut oil, Jackson’s has remained the only facility to produce just one thing: sweet potato chips. While industry professionals might wonder why no other producer has gone this route, Scott believes the answer is simple—the process of transforming tons of sweet potatoes and gallons of non-seed oils into delicious, expertly seasoned snacks is far from easy.

“We had starting knowledge and brought in kettle chip industry experts to advise but quickly learned that traditional kettle chip process was just a starting point,” Scott confides. “Our products require not one but two unique skillsets that are each uncommon in the snack world: how to work with beautiful, irregularly shaped orange sweet potatoes, and how to manage cooking in premium oils.”

He adds, “This isn’t your standard kettle chip process—we’ve taken things to a whole new level by perfecting the sweet potato chip.” Along the way, Jackson’s products are helped at every step by dedicated, enthusiastic staffers. From the executives in the front offices, to the team on the production floor, to packaging staff, and the janitorial staff that keeps the facility spotless, Megan says, everyone is committed to quality.

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“We are a team of foodies laser focused on pushing the boundaries of craveable flavor combinations for sweet potato kettle chips,” Scott enthuses. “Our dedicated R&D lab is filled with dozens of seasonings that have been inspired by people throughout our organization.”

And making, he says, is preceded by a lot of eating.

“When you work at Jackson’s you taste a lot of chips,” he says. “A big part of our innovation process is tasting every flavor chip on the market, domestically and internationally. Everyone in the company is involved in providing feedback on competitive product flavors and innovations in various phrases.”

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As the company has grown, the facility has kept pace.

“Seventeen months after our facility opened, we established a second full-time production shift,” James reports. “Production time for both shifts was filled immediately and required overtime in the second week.”

Also, Jackson’s has grown from a handful to 50 workers in production, sales, marketing, and finance. It also is meeting growing demand and making room for the future by expanding its production footprint, having broken ground in August—just two years from the facility opening its doors.

“We are incredibly proud of our facility and the expert team that created and operates it,” Megan boasts.

Innovation in action
James says the company is careful and thoughtful when it comes to innovation, but once a decision is made, the team is able to put ideas into action rapidly.

“Our entire team embraces a fast and agile approach to everything; we make big decisions in hours on things that would take larger organizations a year to do.”

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Over the years, the company has grown its product offerings, adding single-serve packs, multipacks (suitable for parents to pack in kids’ lunches), warehouse packs sold in Costco and Sam’s club stores. The range of carefully crafted flavors of sweet potato chips Jackson’s has rolled out over the years—the newest being cheesy, caliente Habanero Nacho Sweet Potato Kettle Chips made with Avocado Oil—set Jackson’s apart from other sweet potato chip makers, as most limit seasonings to a simple sprinkling of salt.

The efforts of the flavor wizards in Jackson’s R&D department are paying off in sales, and in honors. The Farmhouse Ranch chips beat out fierce competition to take home Most Innovative New Product Award honors from the 2023 Sweets & Snacks, an annual snack and confectionery event sponsored by the National Confectioners Association. The panel of 30 judges—which included representatives from high-profile retailers like Walgreens, Kroger, and more—bestowed the chips with high marks for innovation, packaging, and flavor.

“The award has been an incredible avenue to tell Jackson’s story to category buyers outside the natural channel,” says Megan. “Anyone who experiences Jackson’s Farmhouse Ranch has been blown away by the multi-dimensional layers of flavor. Sweet potatoes and ranch seasoning is such a perfect pairing that we can’t believe it hadn’t been done before. It’s truly the best version of the classic flavor and happens to be vegan, free of the Top 9 allergens (including dairy), and kosher. Jackson’s Farmhouse Ranch has reset flavor expectations for snacks made from better ingredients.”

Courtesy of Jenni Spinner

On top of trends
Jackson’s ongoing growth could be contributed to the products standing at the intersection of a number of trends—non-GMO ingredients, sweet potatoes, incorporating popular flavors, allergen-friendly formulations, and more. However, James says consumers are responding to Jackson’s for reason that go beyond merely being ‘hot.’

“Premium oils, sweet potatoes, and epic flavors that are also Top 9 Allergen Free are not new concepts—they are megatrends!” he exclaims. “There was huge, unmet demand for this in the snack aisle, especially in the massive sub-category of kettle chips. Plus, consumers have been trading up for sweet potatoes for years. The option is everywhere—even the divey-est of dive bars offer sweet potato fries as an upgrade. But there wasn’t a great sweet potato chip option in the snack aisle because it’s hard to make and production time fills up quickly with traditional chips, which are much easier to produce. Jackson’s changed all that.” 

Anti-inflammatory diets also are fueling interest in the products; Scott cites Cargill’s FATitudes study, in which 64% of respondents indicated they want to avoid high inflammatory fats and oils (such as the cheaper seed oils popular with U.S. snack producers) in favor of anti-inflammatory oils like avocado and coconut. They also are increasingly shopping for sweet potatoes—another megatrend—thanks in part to their favorable nutrient profile compared to conventional white potatoes. U.S. consumers still want to snack, he muses, but they increasingly need and expect more from their noshes.

“Salty snacks is an indulgent category with consumers always seeking excellent flavors, but there is huge opportunity to upgrade the impact of the flavors and clean up the quality of the ingredients in the process. Every family has someone with an allergy so better ingredients that are non-GMO and free of Top 9 allergens should be the starting point for all snack brands.”

What’s next
Jackson’s is expanding—in terms of its facility size, its product offerings, and its reach in the market. Along the way, Megan says, the company remains focused on the mission that started it all—creating healthy snacks that all can enjoy.

“We are thrilled to grow with our brand while sharing the mission centering around Jackson and advocating for the health and wellbeing of families everywhere,” she says. “Inspired by our superhero, Jackson Reamer, we have a strong company culture centered around a spirit of bravery, tenacity, and determination. It drives us to stay positive under pressure with confident optimism always asking ourselves, ‘Why can’t we….’ To the moon!” SF&WB