tampabay.com

An image of Jesus: All that in a bag of chips

A St. Petersburg woman finds what she considers a holy image. Will she keep the chip or sell it? She's not sure yet.

By MARY JANE PARK
Published June 8, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - Rosalie and Jerry Lawson have an eye for collectibles. Their home in Shore Acres is filled with family heirlooms, holiday displays, Gone with the Wind memorabilia, reproductions of Chrysler's PT Cruiser.

They're no strangers to religious iconography. The couple are active Episcopalians - Jerry Lawson's father, the Very Rev. LeRoy Lawson, was the first dean of St. Peter's Cathedral.

One Valentine's Day, her brother found a heart-shaped potato chip, but no one in the family had ever seen what emerged from a bag of Lay's sour cream and onion potato chips a couple of weeks ago: an oval measuring roughly 11/2 inches in diameter, in which Rosalie Lawson saw the image of Jesus Christ.

"I shop at Publix at Northeast Shopping Center," she said. The store recently had a buy-one, get-one-free deal on the chips, and she bought a couple of packages for the Memorial Day weekend.

One night, while watching television, she said, she was munching away and pulled a chip from an 11-ounce bag.

"With things in food these days," she said, she's careful to look at most comestibles.

"I was down there by myself" in the TV room, she said. "I said, "Jerry, you've got to see this potato chip.'

"He said, "Yeah.' You know how guys are," she said.

Then, Rosalie Lawson said, her husband suggested, "Well, we can't eat that."

She has shown photos of the chip to fellow churchgoers and to family members, all of whom have been amazed at the resemblance.

Of course, who knows what Jesus looks like?

"You only know what you think he looks like from pictures," said Rosalie Lawson, 55.

She knows about the GoldenPalace online casino, which spent $28,000 for a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that reportedly bears the image of the Virgin Mary; $10,600 for the pretzel that looks like the Virgin Mary cradling the infant Jesus; and $232.50 for the chicken breast that resembles the visage of the late Pope John Paul II.

She sent e-mails to CNN, to WFLA and to the St. Petersburg Times.

"Well, I'll tell you what," she said Tuesday afternoon to a reporter and a photographer from the Times. "You're the first people to call me.

"How do you even say, "Guess what? I have a potato chip that looks like Jesus. Do you want to buy it?' I don't know if we're going to try and sell it or what yet."

The Lawsons' chip is "just in a jar on the buffet in my kitchen," said Rosalie Lawson. "We're just going to keep it for now."