Helmut Schmidt, Published August 07 2013
VIDEO: Larry the Cable Guy 'gits 'er done' in Perham
Larry the Cable Guy – the wildly popular comic who has made a fortune with his brand of Southern fried redneckisms – stopped at KLN Family Brands here to visit the place where the “Tater Chips” that carry his name are made.
Nebraska-born Daniel Whitney was in full Cable Guy mode as he toured the KLN complex in a white lab smock, cargo shorts and sandals, his signature camouflage baseball cap covered by a red hairnet.
“I’m a little better lookin’ in person,” he told one bunch of workers, as he shared hugs and handshakes.
He waved to workers throughout the tour, double-fist pumping and yelling his signature line, “Git ’er done!”
All the while, he brought smiles and chuckles, tossing out jokes like he was working a stage.
“You know how I stay young? I read at a third-grade level,” he drawled.
While the accent is part of the Cable Guy’s act, the Southern charm is not. He was there to press the flesh and meet the people who make the products with his face on them.
Cable Guy fan Sandy Sharp got him to autograph the back of her tie-dyed orange and yellow T-shirt.
“I love it. It’s cool,” she said.
Larry’s products run on four lines in the sprawling KLN factory, including several flavors of potato chips and tortilla chips.
Larry the Cable Guy “Dawg Treats” are made at the Tuffy’s Pet Foods plant in Perham, said Charlie Nelson, KLN’s vice president of sales and marketing.
And Larry the Cable Guy salsa, while not made at the KLN plant, is packed there for shipment, Nelson said.
He said the relationship with Larry is fairly new for KLN, but very successful.
“It’s been a fun thing, a good thing,” Nelson said.
The comic said working with KLN and the other firms processing a raft of products under his stage name – including frozen foods, barbecue sauces, cornbread and muffin mixes, spices, nuts and meats – is an important part of fundraising for the Git-R-Done Foundation, which he and his wife, Cara, started in 2009.
The foundation has given away more than $8 million from product royalties and golf tournament fundraisers, he said.
The funds are funneled to causes benefiting military veterans or children, such as for treatment of hip dysplasia.
“We decided we wanted to do like a Paul Newman thing,” and give everything to charity, Larry said.
Larry said KLN is one of the biggest money-raisers for his foundation, and that it was important for him to see the plant where the chips bearing his smiling face are made.
“This is really cool, because I can interact with people,” he said.
Now when he rips open a bag, “I can actually remember the people who made them,” he said. “I love this and it’s a lot of fun, plus I’ve never been in a potato chip factory before.”
Larry said adding KLN to the list of places he visits for the History Channel show, “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy,” might not be a bad idea.
In each episode, Larry visits sites across the U.S. revealing bits of history while immersing himself in lifestyles, jobs and hobbies celebrating the American experience.
KLN makes several flavors of Larry the Cable Guy Tater Chips – including Pass the Darn Ketchup, Tater Salad, Fried Dill Pickle, Cheeseburger and Buffalo Wing – tortilla chips and Country Corn caramel corn.
Samples of chip flavors are shipped to Larry and his wife for taste testing before the product is sold. (His personal favorite: the cheeseburger flavored chips.)
The man who calls Pawnee City, Neb., his hometown is also happy that KLN is headquartered in Perham, a town of about 3,000 people.
“I think it’s really cool that you can get a company like KLN in a small town,” he said. “Small towns are awesome. … It’s another business that we have here that doesn’t have to move to a big city.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583