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Review: Hardbite Schezwan Peppercorn potato chips

Hardbite Schezwan Peppercorn potato chips
Hardbite Schezwan Peppercorn potato chips — a curious flavour from an interesting chip company.

I did a double-take when I walked by the potato chip selection at Calgary’s Sunnyside Market. Hardbite’s folksy packaging has clearly had a major update, and this was my first time seeing it.

Overcome with a sudden hankering for chips, I picked up a flavour that was new to me: Schezwan Peppercorn.

My Hardbite experience has been mixed – their Creamy Coconut and Curry Oriental potato chips didn’t do anything for me, though I eventually tried at least one or two other flavours that were decent enough – so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

The Pitch: Like many new-wave potato chips, there’s some back story on the packaging. “Farmer grown • farmer owned,” says the banner at the top of the package. The back blurb explains that the potatoes used to make the chips are grown by the folks who make the chips, leading to a level of supply-chain integration one doesn’t often see in potato-chip making. Other big selling points: no MSG, gluten-free, no trans fats, handmade, no cholesterol, non-GMO and, most unequivocally, “NO ARTIFICIAL ANYTHING.” I like that line.

The Look: Nice new packaging, despite the odd choice to use a location-labelled photo of the “Cariboo Mountains, B.C.” on a bag of Schezwan-flavoured chips.

The Taste: The chip base – a crisp, thick, crunchy slice of potato – is the best part of these. They’re a bit too oily, but the flavour is otherwise interesting. Spicy peppercorn and onion/garlic dominate, and yes, there are definitely taste elements reminiscent of Chinese takeout. There must be some ginger in the overly generic “spices” line item on the ingredients listing. Also, strange but true: after I eat a bunch of these, I smell a faint odour of skunk whenever I breathe in. Why?

Hardbite Schezwan Peppercorn potato chips
The new Hardbite packaging is a step in the right direction. The old design was just too … folksy.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $3.49 at Sunnyside Market in Calgary.

Value for cash money: Not bad.

Availability: Not widespread. Check natural food markets, etc.

Nutrition?: Per 20 chips (40 grams): 210 calories, 12 grams of fat, 230 mg of sodium, 2 grams of fibre, 2 grams of protein.

The verdict: I can’t say these are my favourite chips, of that I’d even buy a bag again, but I appreciate the flavour. It’s unique, not too bad at all, and has me craving a box of stir-fried noodles. That’s the first time a bowl of potato chips has ever had that effect on me.

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