After two days of driving down backroads from Virginia in a vintage army jeep, Rich and Jacob Lieberman finally reached Niagara Falls.
The view was glorious, but the American father and son duo weren’t looking at the water falls.
They were in Jim’s No Frills, staring at dozens and dozens of bags of ketchup chips.
“They had 41 bags, so we left one,” 58-year-old Rich told CBC Hamilton, while sitting next to his 15-year-old son who is legally blind and deaf.
The store’s owner ended up meeting them, taking a picture of them and posting it to Facebook, where it has been shared more than a thousand times across various pages and groups.
Love at first bite
Rich said he and Jacob discovered ketchup chips last year, during one of their countless journeys together.
“We love road trips,” Rich said. “In the past four years, we’ve been to all 50 states and a little over half of Canada.”
He said they were cruising down the Trans-Canada highway when they took a pit stop.
“We saw the ketchup chips and thought that was kind of weird, honestly. I’d never heard of such a thing,” Rich said.
“But I knew he liked ketchup, so we bought him a bag.”
For Jacob, it was love at first bite.
The red-speckled chips became his favourite.
Not so for Rich.
“I have no interest in trying them,” said Rich.
This year, Rich said they decided to return to Canada, with hopes to see Quebec.
But plans changed and they ended up going back to Niagara Falls, to get another taste of the tangy, tomato-seasoned chips.
Rich said he knows he could’ve ordered the chips online, but said he wanted to bond with his son.
“The idea was about having the fun of going to Canada to buy chips,” he said.
They drove from Fredericksburg, Va., in their vintage, army jeep named Gertrude.
It belonged to Rich’s father, has no doors and hits a top speed of 72 kilometres per hour.
They drove down backroads and through the rain before crossing the border and getting to Niagara Falls, Rich said.
They planned on going to Walmart but ended up seeing a No Frills on the way.
They walked in, big plastic tub in hand, and stocked up.
They took 40 bags, far more than the tub could handle, but enough to last Jacob for a year. The chips were on sale and cost at least $100.
He said staff took notice and after hearing about their story, helped them out.
Rich said staff helped him get a shopping cart, since he didn’t have any quarters to unlock the cart.
They also opened a register just for Rich and gave him garbage bags so he could shield the bags from the rain.
Jim Traplin, the store’s owner, also met with them.
He said he’s seen U.S., customers buy Canadian products like Swiss Chalet sauce and Smarties, but never to this extent.
Traplin took their picture and shared it, with their permission, on Facebook, where it went viral.
“Customers will come in and ask if I have any ketchup chips left, jokingly,” Traplin said.
Rich said Jacob loved that the post is getting attention.
“He really enjoys looking at it and seeing the numbers,” Rich said.
Traplin said No Frills will be sending Rich and Jacob a surprise gift.
Next year’s trip
Rich said he and Jacob plan on doing the trip every couple of years.
“Canada’s a beautiful country, that’s why we come back and do these trips,” he said.
“We can’t wait to get back.”
He said the next time they return to Canada, they’ll be buying more ketchup chips.
But they’ll also be trying a new flavour they only just heard of — all dressed.