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Uncle Ray: Proof you can motivate from ANYWHERE

by Rita Smith

July 2, 2014

“Eager to get out of retirement….” Uncle Ray goes back into business.
“If life hands you lemons…make lemonade!”
–Dale Carnegie

To illustrate the value of brevity and demonstrate how easy it is to waste words, I used to hold up a Lay’s potato chip bag and tell my Carnegie classes, “There are more words on the back of a bag of Lay’s potato chips than in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.”

I never would have guessed at that time that the backs of potato chip bags were going to be an ongoing part of my professional development.


Earlier this spring I dropped into Almost Perfect, on Sheppard near Allen Road. Almost Perfect is a terrific discount food store. It sells a huge variety of mostly frozen foods, excellent quality, in party sizes and at great, low prices.

I was preparing for a birthday party. While standing in line with my cart full of frozen vegetables and mini-cheesecakes, I noticed a display of potato chips, $1.19 for a large bag.


Uncle Ray’s Chips: “Beyond Good!!”


“Uncle Ray’s Brand!” the bag trumpeted. “Beyond Good! Always made fresh from nature’s best!”  I scooped up 6 or 8 bags of various flavours and proceeded through the checkout.
It was not until the day of the party that I realized these weren’t just potato chips: they were a motivational tool. On the back of the bag is printed “The Life and Times of Uncle Ray – Chapter 11.” This short essay is accompanied by a photo of Uncle Ray from 1958, and the U.S.S. Bristol on which he served.

“Thanksgiving at Risk”
“In September 1965, I joined the Navy at the age of 17. Before enlisting to serve my country, I held a job at a foundry. The Navy was more than just a place to get away from the coal dust. My three years in the service were very special to me and I have many fond memories of those days.

I was stationed on a Navy destroyer, USS Bristol. There, I entered the food industry as a cook and a baker. On a fateful day in November of 1957, I learned that life hands out lemons in abundance.

By accident, 12 turkeys had their meat boiled off of them, just hours before Thanksgiving dinner. The night before, the turkeys were placed inside three very large steam jacket kettles to thaw. Unfortunately, the valve leaked; in the morning, a dozen bare turkey carcasses were found.

The meal was at noon and there was no time to thaw more turkeys. The meat that had fallen from the bones was taken and placed in several deep-roasting pans. Next, 20 pounds of butter were melted, then poured over the turkey meat and poultry seasoning and salt were added. The meat was placed in the oven at 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, the saved water and drippings from the kettles were used to make turkey noodle soup and gravy, with a little left over to use in the dressing. The meal consisted of succulent turkey, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, hot rolls, tossed salad, and pumpkin pie for dessert.


Uncle Ray so loved his years cooking in the navy, he includes a photo of the U.S.S. Bristol on the back of every bag of chips.

I learned resourcefulness, when life gives you lemons you can waste them or you can make lemonade. Make obstacles work for you.

To read more about Uncle Ray and to learn useful tips on how to demonstrate Resourcefulness, visit www.unclerays.com

Resourcefulness: “Finding practical use for things that others would overlook or discard.”
Here are simple things to remember to help you demonstrate resourcefulness in everyday life.

I will:

    See value in objects, ideas, and people
    Repair, reuse, and recycle
    Make wise use of my time, talent, energy and mind
    Give away or sell what I do not use
     Not litter

From my family to yours, thank you for choosing Uncle Ray’s”

Curiosity piqued, of course I had to visit Uncle Ray’s website. What a story! I particularly like the part that follows, “Eager to get out of retirement…”  as the temporarily retired Uncle Ray goes BACK into business, and also begins writing his memoirs:

“Uncle Ray started in business in 1965 out of the back seat of his 1961 Dodge Dart. A self-made man who never went to college, Ray made and sold chip dips, popcorn and shrimp cocktail sauce to local bars and store in the Detroit area. In the early hours of the morning, Ray would be busy making his concoctions in his small apartment kitchen – and during the day, he would be out on the road selling his product.

His passion for food processing turned into his first large production facility located on Miller Road in Dearborn, Michigan. He adopted the name “Cabana Foods” and produced products under this name. The 15,000 square foot facility was the perfect size for making corn products, popcorn, and pork rinds.

By 1983, Ray needed more space. He decided to purchase the old Superior Potato Chip factory…the 75,000 square foot building made and warehoused potato chips…
By 1993, the company began to take on too much debt, Ray decided to retire and sold the business to a large investor.
In 1995, Ray was presented with the opportunity to purchase back the business. Eagar to get out of retirement, Ray accepted and started the “Uncle Ray’s” Potato Chip line of products. Leaving the Cabana Potato Chips name behind, he began selling the Uncle Ray’s line with much acceptance.

Late one night in 1999, Ray woke up from a sound sleep. He had the urge to sit down at his kitchen table and write about his life’s memories. He began to write the first three chapters to the many stores you now read of the back of our products.

Ray has over 30 chapters of “The Life and Times of Uncle Ray.” He felt compelled to send a message to those eating his product.

‘If someone was ever contemplating suicide, drugs, stealing, or whatever life’s troubles bring you, I want you to know that you are not alone…everyone has bad days and I want to be there with a message.'”

All in all, the most positive message I’ve ever found on the back of a bag of potato chips. So far.

–Rita Smith


Posted by: Rita Smith – Ideas and Ideals


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