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Boris Johnson Spent the Morning After the Night Before at a Potato Factory

The Conservative Party leader inspected potatoes, packed boxes, and ate crisps at Tayto, Northern Ireland — all while looking confused

Day One - Boris Johnson On The General Election Campaign Trail
“It’s a potato, Boris.”
Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images

This is a daily blog about Britain’s next General Election, in which Eater London will find even the most tangential means of writing about the intersection of politics and food.

Another day, another hat and overall for the Conservative Party leader. Day two of the election campaign kicked off with Boris Johnson facing a fresh storm following the release of a video in which he contradicts his own policy and ministers regarding checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland post-Brexit at an audience with members of the Conservative party. Prior to that, he’d been drinking tea and then whisky in Stockton-on-Tees and Elgin, respectively.

What better way to soak it all up than to head to the headquarters of Ireland’s pre-eminent crisp manufacturer, Tayto? Johnson was photographed sorting potatoes, packing boxes, and eating crisps. If Tyrrells might not be a crisp the snackoscenti would first associate with the Labour left, it’s reasonable enough to ask why a crisp as good as Tayto would sanction the official visit of the likes of Johnson?

Well, it’s not so simple. There are two Taytos: one — the original — in the Republic of Ireland (the blue, white, and red packaging), famously revered by Liam Gallagher; and a second, where Johnson was sent packing, at Tandragee Castle in Northern Ireland. These crisps come in a yellow packet; it is the third largest crisp and snack business in the U.K., which offers a clue as to why Johnson was there to talk trade. As well as play “spud pool.”

“Tayto (Northern Ireland) was formed in 1956 by the Hutchinson family and licensed the name and recipes of Tayto Crisps in the Republic of Ireland. The two companies operate entirely separately but have a similar range of products,” according to Wikipedia.

While there are now many Tayto flavours, the Irish brand is best known for its cheese and onion original. Founded in 1954 by Joe Murphy, it was Tayto that invented the process of flavouring crisps in production. It is, by all available measures, a god-tier fried potato product.

In a video shared by the Irish Independent, Johnson’s first remarks to a member of staff: “What are we doing?”