Charlotte man hopes to cash in his chips for a $1 million prize

Greg Pope of Charlotte shares some of the Lay’s Wavy Fried Green Tomato potato chips he inspired with his grandmother, Lillian Pope.
Greg Pope of Charlotte shares some of the Lay’s Wavy Fried Green Tomato potato chips he inspired with his grandmother, Lillian Pope. bcabell@macon.com

Charles Wesley Pope Sr. was a quiet man, but when he was out in his Macon, Ga., backyard it was a different story.

“He wasn’t a man of many words, but once he was showing us his garden, he would really open up,” said his grandson, Greg Pope of Charlotte.

The younger Pope spent a lot of time in that plot of vegetables when he visited his grandparents’ home in Macon.

Granddad, who had worked for the Bibb County school system, grew tomatoes, okra and collards that were taller than some of the kids.

“I just remember as a kid going into the backyard and looking at the things in the garden,” Pope said Thursday while visiting his grandmother, Lillian. “My grandparents never wanted us to leave the house without taking something.”

Pope’s father, also known as Greg, often would bring home a sack of green tomatoes and fry them up on the stove.

“I’d take ’em, wash ’em up real good and slice ’em to a nice size, and I mix up batter and fry ’em up real golden brown crispy,” the elder Greg Pope said.

His namesake son is savoring those family feasts as he competes for a million dollar prize in the Lay’s potato chip “Do us a Flavor” contest.

Mouth-watering memories led Greg Pope to submit his entry for fried green tomato flavored potato chips.

Lay’s developed the recipe for Wavy Fried Green Tomato flavored chips.

Late last month, he was flown to New York City, where Pope learned he was one of three finalists in the competition and sampled the potato chip he inspired.

“I think the flavor is really nice,” he said. “You bite into it and you get that batter fried flavor and then you get the tanginess of the tomato and at the end there’s a little kick like a zesty sauce that goes with the chips.”

He is competing against flavors named Crispy Taco and Everything Bagel With Cream Cheese in the nationwide competition.

His father believes his son has the competition in the bag.

“I think it’s really exciting and hoping we can get him to the finish line,” said the elder Greg Pope, who never expected to eat a potato chip modeled after one of the family’s favorite foods.

If Pope wins, he’ll use the money to start a college fund for his 3-year-old daughter, Avery, and further invest in his online handbag company, Gregory Sylvia, that he runs with his wife, Terri, out of Charlotte.

Voting is underway at dousaflavor.com until Oct. 8, when a winner will be announced.

There are plenty of family members to cast votes.

Although his grandfather died in 1998, his 82-year-old grandmother has 22 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

She was beaming with pride over her grandson’s entry.

“They taste good. They are good. I enjoyed them,” said Lillian Pope, who had an open bag on her kitchen table.

When asked if they were her favorite flavor of potato chip, she said: “They’re going to be my favorite from now on.”