Food Junk food

Review: Covered Bridge Smokin’ Sweet BBQ chips

Covered Bridge Smokin’ Sweet BBQ chips, wrapped in awful, ugly as sin packaging.

The Look: The packaging looks like it was designed by a creatively challenged child with a felt marker and a below-average aptitude for shading. Possible explanations?

  • 1. The common (and much sought-after) crappy-looking-restaurant-with-amazing-food fake-out trick.
  • 2. The terrible packaging design has become so linked to the brand that nobody dares change it.
  • 3. A kid won the design competition. (If that’s the case, sorry about making fun of the packaging. I’m sure Lil’ Jimmy did his best. Gold stars all around.)

The Pitch: The description on the back of the bag is in French and English, though the French description makes more sense. The chips come all the way from Hartland, New Brunswick, home of the world’s longest covered bridge (hence the name). They aim for traditional flavour and texture, and eschew any preservatives, artificial colourings or artificial flavourings. They’re gluten-free and trans-fat free. Sounds good to me.

The Taste: Yum. They’re not as thick, tough and crunchy as other kettle-style chips I’ve had, and they’re not as light and airy as standard Old Dutch or Lays chips. The sweet BBQ flavouring is good, with a salt-onion-garlic-smoke profile. Any sweetness dissipates quickly once the other flavours take over. It’s somewhere between old-school BBQ flavour and the more modern mesquite BBQ variant.

Bright orange and rustic-looking, just like a BBQ kettle chip should be.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $3.79 for a 198 gram (7 oz.) bag at my local Sobeys.

Value for cash money: Good, good.

Availability: Across Canada and in parts of the U.S. Their website has a useful store location finder. I got mine at Sobeys. The Covered Bridge site says they’re available at Bulk Barn stores nationwide, though my local Bulk Barn didn’t have them.

Nutrition?: 240 calories per 29 chips (49 grams). In that serving size, there are 12 grams of fat, 290 mg of sodium, 3 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. Some vitamin C and iron, too. They’re chips, and they’re oily, so enjoy in moderation.

Horseradish powder?: It exists, and it’s on the ingredients list.

The verdict: Not the best chips in the world, but pretty tasty. Now that I know the brand exists, I’m going to have to try tracking down a bag of their cinnamon and brown sugar sweet potato chips. Those sound particularly interesting.

9 Comments

  1. Nice to see Covered Bridge get a little “coverage” on your site.I am a fan of their chips. I would also like to recommend Hardbite chips out of Maple Ridge BC. They descibe themselves as “the only truly Canadian kettle cooked potato chip” Check them out at homegrownfoods.com

    • Iain Ilich

      Did I maybe try a few Hardbite chips at your place? I’ll have to track some down again. I think I saw them at Planet Organic a couple weeks back. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  2. I love the dill flavour of these chips! They are the only brand that makes a dill chip without MSG that I could find. Plus, an added bonus is that the canola oil they use to cook their chips in is GMO free! Score!

    • Iain Ilich

      Dill, you say? I’m a sucker for dill pickle chips. Not all the Covered Bridge flavours are equally easy to find here, but I’ll keep my eyes open.

  3. Yum! Chips! I’ve been across that bridge in Hartland and must now try their namesake chips. Sweet potato and cinnamon sounds great. Thanks for the review.

  4. Brandon Porter

    yum i gotta say, that those are fine good chips. 🙂

  5. you are so foolish. pick apart a wrapper? you aren’t gonna eat the packaging are you?? sheesh talk about grasping at straws for a silly blog…go find something to do these chips are the bomb. you suck!

    • Thanks for the page view, friend. While I’m not entirely sure which syllable of “yum” tripped you up, these chips are, as I noted in the review, just fine. “Pretty tasty,” even.

      As for the packaging: There’s something beautifully naive about genuinely believing that packaging doesn’t matter. Because consumers typically can’t taste a product through a protective layer of foil plastic, the packaging is left to tell the story of the product inside. The people who make a product get to decide the kind of story they’d like to tell prospective buyers about their product, and this is accomplished through careful, considered packaging choices. The flavour only matters after someone buys the product for the first time.

      Junk food is a very competitive business, and a lack of branding effort can make or break a brand’s chances of survival. Simple folksiness and nostalgia may be enough for a hometown product with fond childhood memories attached to it, but expanding nationally with a weak brand is a huge financial risk when nobody in the new market knows who you are.

      To (over)simplify: If you look like a slob, you’re not going to get a first date, never mind a second.

  6. OMG…These chips r amazing..bought them from Dollarama in Toronto…Honestly the best I have ever had…I plan to buy a hell of alot more…yummmm!!

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