Last month, I wrote about a type of chips that was sort of interesting, but didn’t blow me out of the water. So many chips – especially new flavours – are lacking something in the taste department, and are promptly replaced by another flavour once the chip-buying public tries a dud once then never buys it again. It’s the circle of snack food life.
After I posted the review, regular commenter Jill asked me a question that got me thinking. “So, it begs the question…..what are your favourite chips?”
I responded, then thought about it some more. As much as I love taking $4 risks on products in the grocery store, more products are mediocre than excellent. This is to be expected. I used to review CDs as part of my job, and something that reviewers quickly learn is that most CDs are OK, in a 3-star sort of way. They’re not outright bad, but they’re uneven, not particularly ground-breaking and generally speak of squandered potential.
When applied to food reviews, this can make me sound like a grumpy gus when I don’t apply a five-star stamp of approval on everything that crosses my desk. I don’t like being unnecessarily critical, but I also feel like I need to be honest. After all, nobody is paying me to praise or trash anything I write about here. What could be done?
So just this once, I stacked the deck with at least one type of chips I adore. If you’re looking for some non-fancy New Year’s Eve snacking, all three of these chips are worth considering. One is an old favourite, one is a variety I’ve never tried before, and another was graciously recommended to me by my wonderful uncle Peter in Kamloops.
Here’s what you need to know:
Kettle Chips Honey Dijon potato chips
Price: $3.99 for a 220 gram bag at Calgary Co-op
Thoughts: It was love at first bite. I’ve written about these before in the Edmonton Journal, and I can’t say enough good things about them. Sweet with honey (yes, they use real honey), brimming with savoury real mustard taste, boosted with onion and garlic, then sprinkled with enough salt to bring it all home. Crunchy, perfectly oily, and with an aftertaste that’ll be with you for ages. While I’m still a sucker for Old Dutch Ketchup, these are just about as good as chips can possibly get. I could eat a whole bag by myself.
Tyrrell’s Sweet Chili & Red Pepper potato chips
Price: $2.50 (on sale) for a 150 gram bag at London Drugs.
Thoughts: I bought a couple bags of Tyrrell’s chips when they were on sale at London Drugs. I quickly polished off the Salt and Vinegar flavour (sooo good), as I didn’t plan on reviewing it, but I kept the Sweet Chili & Red Pepper flavour aside for writing purposes. In retrospect, I should have bought two bags of Salt and Vinegar. These are strange chips, with a nice crunchy base, but a bizarre flavour that makes them taste like they took a bath in a waterfall of Mr. Noodles seasoning packet powder. Spicy, but very vegetal. (Bad vegetal, in case there was any doubt.)
Fresh is Best tortilla chips
Price: $5.49 for a 325 gram bag at Safeway in Calgary. Also available at London Drugs.
Thoughts: There’s nothing flashy about these tortilla chips from Kamloops-based Fresh is Best. Unlike so many other tortilla chips, these have a super-concise ingredients list, and they’re made without preservatives. Each colour’s flavour is subtly different: yellow is the basic corn chip, with only a very light dusting of salt. It’s admittedly plain but yummy on its own, but would impress as part of a plate of nachos. Green is made with jalapeno powder, and you can taste some peppery notes without anything more than a glimmer of heat. Red is jazzed up with chili powder, but it doesn’t change the taste all that much. If anything, you can taste a hint of onion coming through in the seasoning. Not a flavour-bombardment like anything from Doritos, but perfect for salsa-dipping.
The verdict: If you want to move beyond basic flavours at your NYE party, you just can’t beat Honey Dijon chips from Kettle brand. If your NYE event is more fiesta than party, the tortilla chips from Fresh is Best are worth trying. If you can find them, snag a bag.