Following National Potato Chip Day on Mar. 14 and Pepsi's Banner Sun potato chip brands reaching an impressive $10 billion in global retail sales, the food company was very generous in sending me a very interesting selection of chips.
Banner Sun potato chips are a leading chip brand around the world. The successful brand consists of Lay's (U.S.), Smith's (Australia), Walkers (UK), Elma's (Brazil) and Sabritas (Mexico). What makes the Banner Sun products so popular around the world is that the company caters to chip flavor preferences.
The top Lay's potato chip flavors in the U.S. are Classic, BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and Cheddar and Sour Cream. Needless to say, these flavors are actually kind of plain compared to other chips, crisps and wafers around the world.
Check out my venture into the potato chip critic world as I throw away six years of being a vegetarian to give the verdict on what flavors provide a pleasing crunch to the palate, and what is an abomination to the world of chips.
Crab Flavored Chips (Russia)
Opening up the pink bag of Russia's crab flavored chips I was surprised not be hit with a fishy smell. Nervous about eating a crab flavored chip, the lack of fish aroma was very reassuring. Upon tasting the chip though there is no doubt about it; Lay's was trying to channel the sea creature.
While I proceeded to drown the taste in water, my colleagues seemed to enjoy the crab inspired chips, saying that the flavor wasn't too strong and had a sweet and sour taste.
Besides the bag featuring Russian, its packaging was very similar to Lay's chip bags found in the U.S.
Artesanas Olive Oil Flavored Chips (Spain)
This bag like a majority of the others was not in English, yet the image of olives and oil on the packaging was comforting. After my encounter with the crab chips I was ready to cleanse my mouth with something safe. The olive oil flavored chips were comparable to kettle cooked. They were crispy and a little greasy with a nice after taste of olive oil. The packaging of the chips is similar to that of the baked kind that inhabit stores in the U.S. Overall it wasn't a very adventurous chip, but it was delicious.
Hot and Spicy Crab Chips (Thailand)
After my dependable encounter with the olive oil chips I was ready to reach back into the shallow unknown of the snack-size chip bags. Obviously not learning from my first tasting I went for the hot and spicy crab chips from Thailand. While the first bag of crab chips didn't have a strong aroma, this racy (and difficult to open)bag did. One whiff of the bag had a strong barbeque smell with a hint of crab. Cautious of my bite, the image of a chef with a thumb up on the package encouraged me to dig in. I was honestly surprised to enjoy this spicy treat. While the chips did taste like crab, it had more of a spicy barbecue taste. My co-workers seemed to agree because crumbs barely remain at the bottom.
Gambas al Ajillo - prawns, garlic and peppers Chips (Spain)
The packaging of this bag of chips was the most intriguing for me. With a sash draped over it, this bag of chips looked like a delicious winner to me. Since I couldn't read the bag I did a little research before I dug in and discovered that this specific chip was the winner of Lay's Spain's Casting de Sabores (Do us a Flavour) competition. This flavor (out of 350,000 flavor submission) attracted 45 percent of the votes.
While the latest flavor might have been a hit in Spain, it was definitely not a hit in my mouth, or in the office. The chips were very heavy on garlic powder and definitely the worst one I had tasted yet. To give you an idea of how strong the flavor was, one of my co-workers said that it overpowered the coffee he had been drinking beforehand. If anyone ever tried to offer me this chip again I might yell no, but I do give the packaging an A for its enticing appeal.
Worcester Sauce Chips (UK)
After getting into an argument with a British co-worker on how to pronounce Worcester, I was happy to dig into the 100 percent British potato treat. Reminding me of the oil and vinegar chips found in the U.S., these chips were a fun, yet safe trip to try. A little vinegar, with a touch of tang, I could understand why these Walker's chips would be a popular eat across the pond.
Nori Seaweed Chips (Thailand)
I honestly felt like a savage trying to rip into this bag. The bag was very well sealed. I was a little uneasy about trying a bag of chips with a picture of sushi on them, but they turned out to be delicious. The chips were a little greasy and speckled with green (the seaweed). It had a bit of a strong after taste, but overall a big thumbs up.
Pickle or Salted Cucumber Chips (Russia)
I'm not really sure if the bag translated to salted cucumber or pickles, but I believe they are generally the same thing. This bag of chips is the ultimate companion to a deli sandwich. If you don't have time to eat pickles AND a bag of chips with your deli meats then this is a great compromise. These chips don't just have a strong smell of pickles, but they taste like they've been soaking in pickle juices in the bag. Similar to the seaweed, these chips were sprinkled with some green coloring. Overall they weren't too sour, and if you're looking for a chip with a pickled taste then these are definitely for you.
Lobster Hot Plate Chips (Thailand)
Last but not least, I ended my global chip exploration with the Lobster Hot Plate chips from Thailand. The metallic packing with a wave on it made it my second favorite packaging design. Opening the bag, I was met with a fishy smell, but I powered through. The chips were a little sweet and spicy, and somehow had a rubbery taste to it that some seafood has. It was definitely not my favorite taste of the day, but an intriguing flavor for chips to try.
My adventures in chip critiquing were certainly fun and interesting, but typical to the U.S. nature, I'm going to have to stick to the good ol' original flavored chips. Although, I am willing to take an occasional trip on the wild side with the barbecue flavor.