Josh Monahan isn’t worried about finding a job when he graduates from N.C. State University in May.
The 21-year-old senior majoring in agribusiness management created a job for himself, starting a socially-conscious snack food company called 1 in 6 Snacks.
For each 2-ounce bag of Carolina Kettle-brand chips he sells, Monahan donates a nickel to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Monahan came up with the name 1 in 6 Snacks, after learning that roughly 1 in 6 Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from, he said.
“It’s a pretty shocking statistic,” he said. “I just know there’s room for a lot of change, so we need to help out.”
So far Monahan said he’s donated more than $500 to the food bank and $1,000 worth of products.
The Henderson native grew up in the snack food business. His parents have owned the snack and gift company, The Peanut Roaster, for more than six decades.
Monahan said he wanted to continue the family’s snack food tradition but do it in his own way.
He picked kettle-cooked chips as his company’s first product because he likes them.
Monahan has been working on his company for about a year. After perfecting his flavors with a spice company, he got his first shipment of chips in April. The company’s six flavors include: Southern Twang salt and balsamic vinegar, The Mamma Gin dill pickle and Cozumel jalapeno queso.
The chips are made from North Carolina chipping potatoes and are produced at a factory in Pennsylvania, he said.
Chipping potatoes are more round than typical potatoes, and have a lightly colored flesh that turns a slight gold color when fried.
When he graduates, Monahan plans to rent or buy space and get the equipment needed to produce the chips in North Carolina.
He says he didn’t get a loan for the company, and saved up his seed money by working holidays at the The Peanut Roaster’s seasonal store in Cary and doing tasks for a property management company.
His parents gave him advice and shared some contacts, too, he said.
So far he’s gotten his products onto the shelves of Harris Teeter grocery stores and at specialty food stores in Raleigh. A complete list of retailers can be found at carolinakettle.com.
Monahan said his favorite part of the business is manufacturing and sales, and he will be at the North Carolina State Fair’s Got to Be NC tent near gate 11 until Tuesday, serving up his chips.
“I’m here just doing a lot of brand awareness,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what the brand is and that there’s a chip company in North Carolina.”
On Monday afternoon, Dustin Wood, his wife Meredith Wood and their 4-year-old daughter Mia were passing through the Got to Be NC tent, and stopped to try some of Monahan’s sea salt-flavored chips.
They had not heard of the chips before, but liked them so much they bought a bag.
They aren’t greasy and they taste good,” Dustin Wood said. “I’m always looking for good snacks.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi