Dr. Know: Spicy Grippo’s, a Newspaper Section for Teens, and the Broadway vs. Broadway Street Debate

The good doctor investigates more Cincinnati peculiarities, like the sometimes-varying spiciness of Grippo’s chips, a teen-centric newspaper section, and settling a Broadway bet.

Has Grippo’s Potato Chips changed the recipe of their “Bar-B-Q” chips? This is not a complaint. I love hot chips, and they seem to have turned it up a notch. Then again, sometimes it doesn’t taste that way. It’s not always the same. Am I imagining things, or has something changed? —GET A GRIPPO

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Ken Lehmkuhl is the longtime plant manager at Grippo’s, and people have been asking him this question for decades. He’s proud of his never-changing answer: When you flavor a snack with natural ingredients instead of industrial chemicals (like some potato chips do), those natural ingredients will occasionally vary. The peppers used for Grippo’s Bar-B-Q chips come from several sources and are tested on the official Scoville Scale for pungency. It’s a standard that includes a tolerance for slight variations, and Lehmkuhl agrees that recent crops have leaned toward the hotter end.

Because we’re talking about actual food and not test tubes, all peppers are tasted upon delivery. The Grippo’s plant adjusts accordingly, combining science and art. Those who require every crunch to taste like a science experiment will have to look elsewhere. Besides, that’s not fun, and everyone knows Grippo’s goes with fun. Hey, that’s their jingle from the 1980s. The Doctor forgot to inform Lehmkuhl who wrote and produced it (me). Science and art, indeed.

Settle a bet for me. I say that Broadway, our downtown street running north from the river, is named just “Broadway.” My friend says no, it’s officially “Broadway Street.” That’s redundant and silly. The street signs themselves, from block to block, are inconsistent. So who wins? —BROADWAY WHICH WAY

The Doctor balks at crowning a winner here, because you seem to have uncovered an explosive municipal controversy. To wit: Page nine of the official Addressing Guidelines for the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County notes that some of our street names have no suffixes and that “one example of this is Broadway.” Is that the smoking gun? Not so fast. Our very same city has erected signs —some of them backlit—assuring drivers that they are on Broadway Street as they cross East Fourth Street, New Street (between Sixth and Seventh), and 14th Street. This seems like a Minority Report. Literal “street resistance.”

It gets murkier. Listings from the Hamilton County Auditor show name suffixes on all addresses (Main Street, Sycamore Street, etc.) except for—you guessed it— just Broadway. Then again, unofficial but semi-authoritative sources such as Google Maps stubbornly shout “Broadway Street” on every block. City maps going back to the mid-1800s lurch back and forth on the issue. Therefore, the Doctor must regretfully suspend judgment upon you and your friend’s Big Broadway Bet. Give my regards.

With The Cincinnati Enquirer ending Saturday print editions, I’m reminded of an old habit. Back in the late 1960s I’d read their Saturday “Teen-Ager” section, mostly for laughs. It was totally about clean-cut “decent” kids and blind to America’s youth earthquake. What’s the story about that feature? —BORN TO BE MILD

In 1965 The Enquirer created an entire Saturday section aimed at the emerging Baby Boomer audience, called “Teen-Ager.” The hyphen was your first clue that the section was run by adults and maybe not all that outta sight. Some typical hard-hitting headlines: “My responsibilities as an automobile driver!” “Parents have final say on time to get home!” and “Christ shouldn’t be compared to Hippies!” Another feature called “What Do You Think?” asked fearless questions such as “How would you describe your ideal girl?”

Cincinnati’s zealous attempts to protect its kids during the counterculture era have been covered in the magazine previously (see “Teens for Decency” in the April 2020 issue), and “Teen-Ager” was another example of this effort. In The Enquirer’s defense, we should note that absolutely everybody read the newspaper back then, so while the section was meant to attract young readers (and those advertising to them) parents would also surely see these pages. We wouldn’t want them getting all uptight and freaked out. By 1972, “Teen-Ager” had shrunk inside the regular Entertainment section and rebranded as “Young People.” A few years later it was gone, as was the youth of its target audience. The times were done a-changin.’

Dr. Know is Jay Gilbert, weekday afternoon deejay on 92.5 FM The Fox. Email him your questions about the city’s peculiarities at drknow@cincinnatimagazine.com.

Facebook Comments