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Colored snack makes waves in Gainesville, supports breast cancer research

POSTED: September 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Bud Whelchel, with Luna's Restaurant, holds a tray of pink tortilla chips made by La Chiquita Tortilla. The company originally made the chips for a breast cancer support table at a recent Phoenix Woman's Club luncheon.

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Generally, a tortilla chip is just a means for transporting tasty dips and other toppings to your mouth.

However, the pink chips from La Chiquita Tortilla are doing more than just satisfying appetites: They’re a vessel for supporting breast cancer research.

"About three years ago, the owner of the company Marcelino Solis and the executive staff decided, ‘Hey, we want to do something for the community. We want to take our chips and be able to raise money for breast cancer awareness,’" said Carroll Todd, a Gainesville resident and La Chiquita sales manager.

"Along the way, it was decided to do a pink tortilla chip. Jorge Solis, the plant manager, perfected the color on his third batch of chips.

"We wanted it to be as close to the Susan G. Komen pink ribbon as we could get."

The color of the chips aren’t the only link to breast cancer awareness.

"On every case of chips we sell, no matter who the customer is, we give back $2 for every case to Susan G. Komen for the Cure," Todd said.

Although the Atlanta-based company’s chips have been growing in popularity across the Southeast, they didn’t make their debut locally until this year’s Gainesville Phoenix Woman’s Club luncheon.

The event, which was held in August, benefitted the For Her Glory Foundation — a nonprofit that provides assistance to women with cancer.

"My wife, Renette Todd, is the president of the Phoenix club. They used our pink chips on each of the tables at (the luncheon)," Todd said.

"All the ladies really loved it. That really got the word out in Gainesville-Hall County."

Since then — and just in time for October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month — the pink chips have started to gain ground locally.

According to Todd, PFG Milton in Oakwood will soon be distributing the chips, and Luna’s Restaurant in downtown Gainesville will be endorsing the pink chips all next month.

"The pink chips are available year-round, but the peak of the season is during the month of October," Todd said.

"We’re continuing to pick up new customers who have the same drive to try and do something for breast cancer awareness. It’s just incredible."

Using their products to aid in breast cancer research isn’t a passing fad for the company, Todd says.

"Four or five years ago, we had a young lady in the company that was affected by breast cancer. She went through the chemo process and surgery, and that’s when the bells started going off for us. The whole family rallied behind this," Todd said.

"Everyone we talk to, they know of someone who has been affected by cancer. We feel really good about what we are doing.

"Our company is behind this cause 110 percent."


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