Friday, April 07, 2006

You Say Gaufrette, I Say Potato Chip

I thought it would be fun to sample the hugely exploding world of flavored potato chips, but somebody beat me to it. Taquitos.net. "Serious about snacks."
Whew. Just as well. Thanks, whoever you are. (There are nine collaborators.)
But, jeez, have you noticed the proliferation? Thai ginger potato chips, Philly cheese steak potato chips, dill pickle potato chips, ketchup potato chips, fergodsake!!
(Actually, I think I'd like to try some of those pickle chips.)
That one Web site alone has reviewed over 900 potato chips.
Potato chips are singularly regional, as it turns out. Everyone has a favorite local chip maker. Golden Flake (Birmingham and other areas in the South). Tim's Cascade (Northwest, and — eh, why not? — Hawaii). Utz (Mid-Atlantic coast... and they make — oof — a crab-flavored chip; hope it's "she-crab").
So unless I run across some Lay's pickle-flavored chips, I'm out of luck, because all the other pickle-flavored chips (Taquitos has reviewed 32) seem to be outside my jurisdiction. Lay's, I think I can find. That is, if my local markets have decided to carry so much variety.
All those crazy flavors must drive the supermarkets nuts. (Ooh. Pardon the salted snack pun.) My local mini-market — actually a fabulous stand-alone bodega with an independent butcher, decent wines, commendable produce and the like — stocks a couple of flavors of Tim's (mm — wasabi) and who knows how many other brands. A bunch of Kettle flavors. I'll go count and get back to you.
Remember when you were a little kid and potato chips came in two flavors: Potato Chip and Barbecue? Barbecue was garishly sweet and largely to be avoided, except at sock hops, when nobody was looking. Certainly not something that mother would buy.
Cranky, being a few years older than me, grew up with two much simpler flavors: Potato Chip and Ruffle. Ruffle was new-fangled.
Well, these days we have too much choice.
Cranky recalls the time when visionaries hinted that meals of the future would be mere pills; just add a drop of water, and, voilà — turkey dinner.
Now, all you need is a bag of chips.
Just add beer.

24 comments:

Sam said...

Of course crisps have come in a vast array of glorious flavours for years and years and years, starting with salt and vinegar and later including hedgehog flavour (amongst many many others).

As a child I used to listen to my mum in disbelief when she recounted stories of her own childhood marked only by flavourless crisps. Plain, or rather "ready salted" are her favourite to this day. She especially likes them in a cheddar and marmite sandwich, and I cant blame her for that, can I now?

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sam said...

PS. Actually - I remember going to germany aged 12 on an exchange, and I strongly recall PITYING the germans for only have crisps in two flavours - plain or paprika. Although the paprika ones are very good.

Catherine said...

I can't believe you scooped me on this! I have a draft called Potato Chips: The Next Generation on exactly this topic (and, of course, comparing it to the UK). There's just so many new flavors to sample I haven't been able to get around to them all! I was thinking of having a potato chip party (because what's one person's opinion and my husband and I disagree strongly on this subject.)

So, how are those thai ginger? ;-)

Tea said...

When I lived in Japan, 8-13 years ago, they had flavors galore, and many of them rather unappealing to me (shrimp, squid, wasabi, corn soup, octopus dumpling, mayonaise, ramen, butter, blue seaweed). It seems as if they've migrated to these shores. But I'm pretty traditional--salt & vinegar or plain. Though I'd love a report on the dill pickle flavor...

KathyF said...

As a couple of commenters pointed out, the U.S. is behind the curve on this. All sorts of yucky flavored crisps cower in the supermarket shelves here; my daughter bought some mango flavored Kettle chips the other day. I haven't tried them.

I'm a purist, always have been. Not even a nacho tortilla for me. Sea salt is acceptable, however.

plentyo'moxie said...

pickle chips are da bomb. 'specially utz pickle chips.

the utz crap chips are flavored not with crab with with old bay like seasonings, also making them da bomb.

though, with their strong to overwhelming seasoning, consumable in quantity only with lots and lots of beer.

sam's mum said...

Sam has conjoured up some childhood memories(50's).
The best 'crisps' were Smiths and they came in packets with little screwed up blue packets of salt to shake on. We had a shop and they were sold from big square tins, the same as loose biscuits. Sam is right 'ready salted' remain my fav. I do try new flavours 'how about lamb and mint sauce no its not right somehow. I have actually given up eating crisps since Christmas too much salt but after reading this I am considering trotting along to our local Tesco metro for a treat !!

sam's mum said...

Sam has conjoured up some childhood memories(50's).
The best 'crisps' were Smiths and they came in packets with little screwed up blue packets of salt to shake on. We had a shop and they were sold from big square tins, the same as loose biscuits. Sam is right 'ready salted' remain my fav. I do try new flavours 'how about lamb and mint sauce no its not right somehow. I have actually given up eating crisps since Christmas too much salt but after reading this I am considering trotting along to our local Tesco metro for a treat !!

kudzu said...

I'm with kathyf, being a fellow purist. I did take to the Thai gingers, only because they were from that really good company whose chips are so well cooked.

I remember when sandwiches (on properly toasted bread) came with a little pile of chips on the plate, and perhaps a couple of slices of pickle. I would kill for one of those today: chicken salad, preferably, made with real mayo.

And we had to have chips to use for topping tuna-noodle casserole!

Kevin said...

CC,

Iconoclast that I am, I'm not a fan of potato chips (any chip for that matter) or soft drinks. Even when I got the munchies (for reasons best left undocumented) I'd pig out on oranges or grapefruit instead of chips.

cookiecrumb said...

Thai ginger is delish. It would make a superb platform for tuna poke or ahi tartare.
We tried the salt & pepper chips yesterday, and the pepper flavor seemed fake and chemical.
Hey, Sam's Mum: I like plain chips on a peanut butter sandwich. Good with sliced bananas in there too.
Kevin: Grapefruit? Jeez.

Jamie said...

My very favorites are the extra-thick-and-crunchy, peanut-oil-fried, jalapeño-flavored ones you can get up north. I'm thinking Jay's is one of the brands.

Down here, Golden Flake's Sweet Heat Bar-b-que chips are pretty awesome.

cookiecrumb said...

I think I learned about Golden Flake from you, Jamie. Mm. Jealous.
Oh. We tried a habanero chip (Tim's). Too hot. Might as well just stuff them up your butt, says Cranky.

Dagny said...

Ooo. Utz with Old Bay? Sounds delish. I will have to try those the next time I am in Virginia.

I personally prefer either salt and vinegar or Cheddar Sour Cream Ruffles. Once I had the horrible experience of opening the bag only to discover that there had been a mistake at the factory and there was not flavor on my chips.

KathyF said...

I would like to say, I am no relation to Golden Flake. Never met her. Him?

Kevin said...

CC,

Marijuana gave me a serious citrus jones.

MonkeyBites said...

I couldn't believe I had found wasabi flavored Funyuns in Hawaii. Who would have thunk it?

cookiecrumb said...

OK, MonkeyBites, you might need to tell about those
Mrs. D.

cookiecrumb said...

Grammar messed up, but get point you?

rob said...

Love this post, especially since I had one of those WTF? moments with potato chips just the other day in the grocery store.

First off, I'm Canadian, and we've had pickle and ketchup chips for a long, long time now. Ketchup is awesome, pickle makes me wretch.

Anyways, the two newest flavours were wasabi (I'm intrigued), and spicy curry (I'm intrigued, but not too keen).

Actually, I just noticed some enterprising Canadian is auctioning bags of both on eBay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Lays-Wasabi-and-Spicy-Curry-Potato-Chips-Canada_W0QQitemZ4447901357QQcategoryZ43401QQcmdZViewItem

Anyways, love your post and I love your anger too.

cookiecrumb said...

Gaw. Potato chips on eBay? I can't even work up appropriate anger, Rob. (Eh. See, cuz I'm not really angry -- about that!!! [head explodes])
So. Ketchup good, pickle scary. Well, I still want to try both.

MonkeyBites said...

I have proof in the form of a photo! Heresy disguised as fun(yun)? You tell me....;)

cookiecrumb said...

Hah! Worth a click. thanks.