Sunday, 15 July 2018

Popchips Ridges Buffalo Ranch

Coming to write up this crispy snack I am struck with the idea that ten years ago I wouldn’t have had a clue what the name meant.

The me of ten years ago would ask “What’s a Popchip? Because maybe we didn’t have popchips then. Perhaps not.

“What does ‘Ridges’ mean? Well, maybe I was a bit behind the times on the crispy snack front. I usually think ‘crinkle cut’ but obviously these days I can accept either.

I’ve been to Buffalo NY because I have a friend who lives there (handy for Niagara Falls and there’s a nice art gallery too but what has that got to do with snacks? Yeah, again I was really slow to discover what ‘buffalo’ means. This is because I discard the wings of a chicken as all but inedible (seriously... nothing but skin and sinew) so never discovered the alleged delights of the buffalo wing and hence, of course, buffalo to mean chicken as a crisp flavour. Which when you break it down like that does seem pretty weird. I do have a friend who says chicken wings are the best bit. But I’ve told her several times that she’s wrong and I’m sticking with that and Cliffs of Moher taste tester agrees with me. Luckily with a crisp you get the chicken flavour but not the sinew.

And ‘Ranch’? Well obviously it’s a dressing. But did I know that ten years ago? I think probably not.
Well maybe, but I don’t think I’d have had the opportunity to try.  So nothing to do with ranching buffaloes then.

So what did the reluctant taste testers of 2018 think of this crispy snack? Some of them are young enough not to realise that the name of this snack is a very modern concept in this country but naturally that didn’t stop them crunching in to this quite hot snack. It was hard to pick the chicken flavour through the ranch flavouring (which seems to be mostly cayenne pepper) but if you concentrate hard I think you can taste it.

The crunch is pretty good, and once you’ve grappled with the heat, the taste is pretty good too. Yes, not bad at all. But truthfully? A bit too hot.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Seabrook With a Twist Barbecue Flavour Spiral Popped Snack

What is it about spirals as a shape for crispy snacks? Why do I somehow feel I ought not to like them? I don’t really know why that is. But I always seem to enjoy spirals quite a lot.

And despite, as regular readers well know, not being mad about barbecue as a flavour I found myself rather enjoying this packet of spirals too. Which is a good thing as I like to support Seabrooks as (I hope) a proper British company (with any luck) not owned by a mega-giant multi-corp. Made with pride since 1945.

And here's a major surprise though. I didn't notice until just now as I sit here writing, and I'm pretty sure none of the reluctant taster testers noticed, that this crispy snack is made with peas. Peas?

Now you may recall I've written up pea-based snacks before and not had much good to say about them. But this is a whole nother story.

The back of the packet (always read the back of the packet crisp fans: it probably tells you more than you thought you needed to know) tell me this crispy snack is made of yellow pea flour. Also potato starch and rice starch. What a surprise! I guess that's the twist in the name.

Seabrooks tell us they have unleashed the power of the humble pea. Popped and twisted for a crunch that's lower in fat (80% less fat than regular potato crisps apparently) and full of flavour. Some say it's impossible to make such a healthy snack so tasty. For us it's easy peasy.

Judge for yourself! Stop reading and start eating. Well, I really have to say I am impressed. I'm willing to bet the reluctant taste testers will be too. And the Chef was mightily surprised.

Slightly odd that the lilac packaging is decorated with images of tomatoes and garlic cloves but this crispy snack is suitable for vegetarians.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Croky Paprika

This handsome blue packet of paprika flavoured crisps is the last packet brought home from the Netherlands by Noble Friend. And I for one thought them rather tasty.

I’m not sure why, but Noble Friend didn’t have high hopes for this crisp. Maybe it was the packet design? Maybe “Croky” didn’t appeal as a crisp name? Maybe it was the parrot? Who knows. No, no... I get it. She doesn’t eat red peppers. (No more do I, but that’s another story).

A simple crisp. A Belgian crisp, and a tasty one, this was quite popular with the reluctant taste testers.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Goalden Wonder Golden Balls

This snack from Goalden Wonder (usually Golden Wonder) may or may not be linked to the forthcoming football World Cup in Russia. The packet makes no mention of the World Cup. Although obviously there is a big green football pitch strewn with golden footballs on the packet.

 It does say You're bound to score with these all-round favourites that deliver more punch than crunch. They are fully flavoured with our tongue tingling cheesy oomph which goes round and round and round.

Yes. C'mon and share some golden cheesy balls from Goalden Wonder. It is a bit odd that the football imagery is so obvious and yet not mentioned. You might think you were imagining it if it were not for the football pitch and the goal. And... the Goalden Wonder.

I am sorry to report that despite much anticipation the reluctant taste testers and I were not terribly impressed with this crispy snack. The golden balls don't have the fabulous dusting of orange flavour dust we expect from Wotsits or M&S Cheese Tasters which is disappointing. And the texture is far too dry. I ate one golden ball and founded myself choking on the dust dry puffed corn and potato snack. And not very cheesy.

What a pity. Because they look so tasty. But all is not lost because taste tester from the New Forest was very taken this this crispy snack.

I'm still thinking of the seriously fabulous Kims Ostepops. Trouble is, if you've tried what seems to be the very best, the also rans struggle to win any taste test.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Lieber's Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Barbecue Flavour

Noble Friend went out to buy a pint or two of milk and brought back a little packet of kosher crisps, indeed I see they are kosher for passover. And they smell wonderful.

Sometimes a crispy snack will smell good and taste bad (or not so good), or smell awful but taste wonderful. But in this case I think the aroma that wafts from the packet is just lovely, and the taste isn't too bad. Which is praise indeed from me because I don't usually enjoy barbecue as a flavour. If the taste was the same as the flavour I'd give 5 stars but sadly it doesn't ever seem to work like that.

Slightly Red Haired Bristolian tells me she's not that impressed. Not enough taste she says, the taste is almost plain salted. Not what taste tester from the New Forest thought. She asked where they came from so she could buy another packet.

Noble Friend was quite pleased with her choice too. Very nice we thought.

I think these crisps are made in the USA but it's not easy to tell from the packet. "Distributed" it says, in the USA, in England, and in Australia. But the Rabbi in charge comes from Monsey which seems to be in New York State. I found that on a website called Walk2Shul. Useful.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Kettle Discoveries Gressingham Duck, Plum Sauce & Spring Onion

Back in November 17 I posted a magazine ad showing these crisps but I only just discovered them in a big branch of Waitrose. I've still never seen the amazing sounding salted caramel and cream crisps (a tragedy!) but here we have the rebranded duck flavour.

The reluctant taste testers and I tried this crisp when it was branded Chef's Signature, with a great big picture of a chef. I can't at this late date remember what that packet of crisps was like but it says here that I thought them much too spring oniony. 

And I have to tell you I wasn't that mad about this packet either. I think the Tesco packet from December 2013 were better at tasting of duck. Possibly because it was called Hoisin Duck. At any rate I gave it a pretty good review. 

However good the actual crisp, however crispy the crunch, an unconvincing flavour won't deliver a great crisp. And in the end I don't think duck really works as a crisp flavour. Why is it that roast chicken works really well, but duck has to be enhanced wit spring onions and plum sauce? Perhaps that tells us all we need to know.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

M&S British Pork Hog Roast & Apple Hand Cooked Crisps

For some reason I thought the reluctant taste testers and I had tried this crisp before: but apparently not. I guess I just imagined it.

So. So what did the taste testers have to say? It’s always a bit of an issue when we try complicated flavour crisps because quite often the actual taste is not very like what’s printed on the packet. Call us all picky if you like, but most of us like more simple flavours.

Anyway, well... the “pork hog roast” flavour was a bit hard to pick. I have never actually been to a hog roast but obviously I’ve had roast pork. I could just detect the roast pork if I concentrated hard but none of us felt it was an easy flavour to recognise. And unfortunately the fugitive pork flavour is quite overpowered by the apple. And in case you were wondering, there is real pork in the flavour dust on this crisp.

But oh dear. The apple flavour has that sinister fizzy character the reluctant taste testers liked so little in the Christmas prosecco flavours. As Tall taste tester put it, the apple is too overpowering. And to that I add weirdly fizzy.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Lay's Heinz Tomato Ketchup Flavour

Well, the reluctant taste testers whined the other day when we tried a “ketchup” flavour crisp which was deemed not tomatoey enough, so what did we have to say about this offering from Lay's?

Good news for Noble Friend, who bought this little packet in Amsterdam, not only did she approve but the rest of the reluctant taste testers did too. Oh, except for Tall Elegant taste tester who didn’t fancy them at all.

The flavour seemed to be just exactly as advertised so we were all pleased with that. And a nice light crunch. Yes, we enjoyed this little packet of crisps. And please can anyone going to the Netherlands bring us another packet.

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Food Doctor Popped Crisp Thins Sour Cream & Basil

I had to go to the Royal Free the other day for a blood test. The blood nurse at my surgery is on maternity leave and goodness knows when she'll be back so no-one not at death's door (not me any more) gets to have a blood test close to home.

Anyway, I wandered into the handy hospital shop to see how healthy or otherwise the snacks on offer might be. Some of them definitely not (because they're on offer in any handy shop), but these might be different.

These crisps are owned by a company based in (I hesitate to say made in) Harley Street in London. Those of you not from the UK may not be aware that Harley Street (not far from Oxford Street and at 90 degrees to Baker Street of Sherlock Holmes fame) is where all the expensive private doctors hang out here in London.

So obviously some doctor with an interest in the power of nutrition has started a crispy snack business. What a good idea. They are on a mission to make balanced, healthy and wholesome foods that'll do your mind and body good it says on the packet. This crispy snack is nutritionist approved... a dose of goodness in every bag.

Except... are they tasty? Would I buy these crisps again?

Well, erm, no. No I wouldn’t. The crunch is OK but it’s soya and corn not my favourite, potato, and the taste is... sort of more like a pasta sauce than a crispy snack. Or so some of the reluctant taste testers thought.

It’s a shame though, because I’m guessing most of us would be happy to eat healthy crispy snacks if only they were as tasty as a normal (unhealthy) snack. But let’s be honest. None of the the healthy snacks the reluctant taste testers and I have tried are anything like as nice, as tasty as the traditional unhealthy varieties. Part of the problem is that baked snacks are almost never as tasty as fried, and messing about with traditional much loved flavours is never a good thing.

A good try. But not for us.

Friday, 15 June 2018

M&S Rainbow Veggie Tasters

I finally found what my local branch of M&S did with their crispy snacks. Hidden round where they used to sell frying pans. Perhaps they have a healthy eating plan for customers which involves buying fewer crisps because we can’t find them; although maybe not producing any might work better.

We know M&S make fabulous cheesey puffs (slightly confusingly called cheese tasters), and here they have produced a vegetable version, a rainbow veggie version. Beetroot and goats cheese. Carrot and cumin. Spinach and black pepper. Quite complicated flavours.

And not maize but rice snacks. Baked not fried. But that’s the way things are these days; we aren’t allowed to have unhealthy fried stuff. More's the pity.

Not sure this crispy snack is really to my taste. I did eat the whole (quite small) packet but I’m not sure I would buy another.
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