Food Junk food

Review: Special K Popcorn Chips, Sweet & Salty Flavour

Special K Popcorn Chips, Sweet & Salty Flavour
A box of Special K Popcorn Chips, Sweet & Salty Flavour.

When I try to cut back on my calories during part of the day (saving up for a big meal later on, say), it’s often not hunger that gets to me. Instead, it’s a hankering for a specific flavour, something with a taste that scratches a food itch.

Salt and sweet being two itches that regularly require scratching, these popcorn chips from Special K seem like the kind of thing that would be handy to have in the pantry for just such a need.

The Pitch: There’s a big Special K logo (harness that brand recognition!) meant to entice the same crowd who religiously down a bowl of the cereal each morning. That’s a double-edged sword, though. In the same way that “diet” soft drinks have a stigma associated with them, when I think Special K, I think dieting and obsessive calorie-control. This is reinforced by the only other real pitch on the box: a graphic that boasts 20 popcorn chips equals 80 calories. Quick math: that’s 4 calories per chip. See? Perfect for obsessive calorie quota-meeting.

The Math: We’ve established that each chip is 4 calories, and the box states that 20 chips is also 20 grams. So, in a 127 gram box, there should be 127 chips. At 4 calories per chip, the box should logically contain 508 calories worth of chips. So don’t eat it all at once.

The Look: The logo dominates the box, along with photo illustrations of tumbling popcorn chips, which are shaped like wrinkly triangular tortillas. The real thing looks like the illustration, which means they also look like all sorts of other popcorn chips: Popcorners, Popchips, etc. They’re smaller than the other types I’ve seen, though.

The Taste: Neither particularly sweet nor salty, at least on some of the chips. Somewhat uneven flavour distribution means some chips are perfect, while others are as bland as hospital roast beef. Good crunch, with meaty corn texture. Popcorn flavour dominates. When you hit a good chip, it’s satisfying. When you hit a mediocre chip, you reach for another in hopes of picking a winner.

Special K Popcorn Chips, Sweet & Salty Flavour
A bowl of Special K Popcorn Chips, Sweet & Salty Flavour. Hard to judge scale in this shot, but they’re much smaller than you think they are.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $3.99 for a 127 g box at Calgary Co-op.

Value for cash money: OK.

Availability: Widespread.

Nutrition?: Per 20 pieces (20 grams): 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 75 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 1 gram of protein.

The verdict: I’d buy them again. They’re a decent crutch for snacking when you only want a few chips. They could stand to be more flavourful, but the required calorie boost would defeat the purpose.

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