August 21, 2023
After a summer of taste-testing and more than 17,600 votes cast, Herr's has announced the winner of its 2023 Flavored by Philly contest, which sought out unique potato chip flavors based on local businesses.
The winning submission is tomato pie from Corropolese Bakery, a family-owned Italian deli with locations in Norristown, Audubon and Royersford. The flavor was nominated by David Gilmartin of Royersford, a longtime Corropolese customer.
Herr's, based in Chester County, launched this year's competition last fall, calling on the public for ideas based on Philadelphia small businesses. Herr's received about 1,500 flavor submissions that included everything from cannoli to pierogi. A panel of judges announced the three finalists in June. Corropolese's tomato pie was up against Korean BBQ wings inspired by Mike's BBQ (1703 S. 11th St.) and roast pork sandwich inspired by John's Roast Pork (14 E. Snyder Ave.).
"The Corropolese family is a great family, and their team there is unbelievable; they crank out a bunch of tomato pies," Ed Herr, chairman and CEO of Herr's, told PhillyVoice. "Someone was asking me, why do I think that flavor won? I would say that the base of pizza is very similar to the base of a potato chip ... And then the Corropolese ingredients that they have in their family recipe, which is a secret obviously, we were able to match closely. I think people that knew the product said, 'Wow, that's a match.' People love that. It's a sweet tomato flavor, and it almost tastes like it has a little special ingredient in it. It just was a hit."
The tomato pie chip has been described as combining the flavors of sweet tomato sauce and Romano cheese in an attempt to mirror the tomato pie for which the nearly century-old business is loved.
"There were a lot of entries, and it was hard to narrow it down," Herr said. "And a lot of it came down to making sure that we felt like we could replicate the flavor that best represented these other family business recipes."
When it came time to produce the chips, Herr's consulted with the businesses to ensure the flavors evoked the products they were meant to emulate.
"They actually gave us insight on the chip itself during the process," said Corropolese owner Joe Corropolese. "So we tasted different variations of the chips. And you know, we did come down to one chip at the very end that we thought did the tomato pie flavor justice. And I think they got pretty close."
The top three flavors were available for purchase and voting all summer. According to Herr, there were 50% more votes cast this year than the inaugural 2022 contest, which saw the crowning of the long hots and sharp provolone flavor.
"We had a good time with it," Corropolese said. "Customers loved the flavor and the whole idea of it. ... And it's nice to know that we had such a big following that they appreciated us and the chips and voted us number one. That was a good feeling."
For its victory, Corropolese earns $10,000 and Gilmartin earns $5,000 for submitting the winning flavor. The two runners-up businesses will receive $2,500 each, and their nominators will each be awarded $1,000.
Corropolese said his business plans to donate some winnings to CHOP and some to Ronald McDonald House Charities. His first grandson was born a few months ago and has since needed to receive treatment at CHOP, where Corropolese says they are taking "really good care" of the child.
Gilmartin said he was inspired to enter the contest after seeing the "genius" long hot chip emerge victorious. He immediately knew which small business he'd like to nominate — the one his family has turned to for many Christmases, graduation celebrations and football parties.
"I've been eating Corropolese's tomato pies since I was a kid," Gilmartin said. "My family's always had it. My kids have had it. And now my grandkids have had it. So it just seemed like a good fit for a chip. They did a really nice job. I liked that sometimes you get more tomatoes, sometimes you get more cheese. We've been (eating) not only (Corropolese's) tomato pie, but also their bread, their everything, forever. It's just been in my family's blood. I'm so happy for them, it was a lot of fun."
Gilmartin met Corropolese over the weekend, who thanked him for the submission with a gift card. Gilmartin said he plans to host a party to thank all the friends and family he "bugged" on Facebook to vote for the tomato pie chip. Any leftover winnings may go toward a Jersey Shore trip with his six grandkids.
Unfortunately, with the contest over, the tomato pie chips are no longer available in stores. Corropolese said he has expressed to Herr his hopes of continuing production, to no avail.
"I was trying to talk (Herr) into continuing to make them, because I know my customers would buy them and we would sell a lot of chips," Corropolese said. "But yeah, that didn't get me anywhere."