In God's Country

These are God's chips! Brim's is a snack food company based in Tennessee that began in the year of our Lord, 1979, as a small pork rind manufacturer and to this day they can only claim to be a distributor, and not a maker, of potato chips. And that's a good thing because these chips are not great though they should be! Cooked in corn oil, they could have used a few more seconds in the cooking oil. The chips are flaky, blistered like Wise, but none are browned, there are zero of those errant burnt chips that make a bag of thin, crumbly chips a secret joy. The chips have a machine cut, a big chip factory feel and no kind of human touch. Even the salt seems skimped on. That they so proudly advertise "No Trans Fat" right on the bag leads me to imagine that until recently the chips had been cooked in a trans fatty oil, and only the oil itself has been replaced, the cooking process has otherwise remain unchanged. The back of the package has a quote from scripture, John 1:29: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus woulda been like, "dude, finish ya breakfast!"

PS unpleasant aftertaste!

Greeks do it Better!

There hasn't been a post to Chipweb this DECADE! Oh, the guilt! Not that I haven't been eating chips, and lots of them, here and there, it's that there just wasn't any time! But all of that is going to change, expect lots in 2011; new chips, chips revisited, more flavored chips, and lots of international chip posts!

My good friend Mike took his Honeymoon in Greece, and brought me back these wonderful chips, and I haven't even gotten him a wedding gift yet what an a$$! The bag had been sitting on my shelf for a couple months, past their freshness date of 12/26/10, but they were not stale or old tasting. They were delicious! Carrefour is a massive "hypermarket" found all over the world, and these are their chips: A simple chip cooked in a non-hydrogenated oil, crispy and appropriately salted. I wonder from whom they bought the chips to re-brand as they own? In general I'm not happy about a world that lets a store like this exist, one that re-packages another laborer's product and claims it as its own, but I cannot deny that these chips crucially accompanied the wonderful chicken salad sandwich I helped cobble together from the fridge last night!

Game's over

Man, we've seriously been neglecting Chipweb over here, apologies for the total lack of updates. Maybe it’s that Chipweb's upkeep is more of a winter hobby. I can't speak for our other reporters but I can say for myself that I've encountered nowhere near the amount of new chips this year than I did last, mostly because I’ve not been traveling nearly as much. But in the spirit of closure, brought upon by the year’s (and decade’s?) end, I feel I need to write about some chips. This is the first entry!

For my birthday in April, my good friend Mike sent me a giant care package of chips that he’d purchased in various stores around his new home in Austin, TX. While there were several noteworthy chips in the box, contained within was what I will irrefutably claim to be America’s greatest potato chip: Grammar-defying Art’s and Mary’s Chips, from Cheney, Kansas! These, as far as I know, are Kansas’ only chips, and for a state home to so many of the country’s greatest things (and some of its worst), it’s really no surprise.

I apologize, I’m working from memory here; I ate these chips a LONG time ago, but I did save them in my cupboard and ate a few at a time, only finishing them entirely just before they would have staled. Described as “Kettle-style,” the chips had a killer crunch, with the right amount of salt, bringing out the nuances of the potato in the thickly cut slices. The love, pride, and dedication to quality that Art and Mary practice is unquestionable, and would earn them high marks even if the taste wasn’t there. The blue and silver packaging does the same – sets the chips apart by its aesthetic alone. No tease, the chip bag really does contain America’s best potato chips, surpassing even those of Western PA. I’ve included some (sorry, blurry) pics of the packaging, as in this case pictures will certainly tell a better story than I. These chips have been officially endorsed by M.A.N.I.A.C. That’s, for those who don’t know, Movement For Americans Not Into Average Chips. For a clandestine organization with seemingly no internet presence whatsoever, the endorsement speaks for itself.

I can’t really say anything more about these chips than simply do yourself a favor and track some down. Shit is real.

Dan Fetherston should win a Chippie! or something!

...for most prolific chip reporter! Check out Dan's newest article here

Dan's meteroic rise from blog to magazine only confirms his status as a wunderkind of chip reporting!

Berliner's Night Out

It was refreshing to travel around Germany and not encounter a single familiar chip product or brand. Do Germans not eat a lot of chips? Frito-Lay has yet to dig its cunning, wicked claws into the hearts of this resilient nation. Of those I found, the most common flavoring was not "original," "salted," or "classic" (as Frito-Lay itself has impudently coined it) but rather, oddly, Paprika! Paprika, the ever subtle pepper flavoring is put to appropriate use here: It provides the chip with a general dusting, at once mild and definitive. It creeps up on you - the taste pleasantly lingering in your mouth for a bit after its gone, as you crave more - in a vague, BBQ kind of way. I tried many different brands of these paprika chips, but the odd German branding - or precisely its charming lack thereof - makes me unsure whether Sun Snacks is the brand name at all, or just a clue to the oil in which they were cooked (Sunflower Oil!) Regardless, these chips were exceptionally good and charming in their modesty. The German to English free translation was no help: "Crisp kartoffelchips with pepper wurzung." I'm confused!

The Contest

This winter Walkers Crisps unleashed a gimmick-laden campaign across the United Kingdom where several common folk worked with the company to develop new chip flavors that ultimately the public would vote on, the winning flavor joining the main Walkers “range.” A pun drunk copy permeates the whole affair, with a broad, borderline offensive “international” influence which attempts to appeal to the UK’s many classes and races. While I could spend my time here talking about the disgusting marketing campaign, I’ll digress as Chipweb is, and should be, first about the chips. That said, I was genuinely happy to have a bunch of strange new flavors to try, and admit I did quickly fall prey to the whole “collect ‘em all" device. I had to try them all!!! Ingeniously, it seems that Walkers doesn’t provide every flavor to any one store; you thus have to extend your quest, in another odious but effective ploy. Regardless, the flavorings mostly track with the cartoon-like campaign. I’ll talk specifics below, but the old problem of completely ignoring the potato was common. Furthermore, a chip that has such a singularly strong flavor does not beg to be consumed in large quantities: Even if it’s good, it’s ultimately too weird to eat a lot of. Here they are, in the order in which they were consumed:

Cajun Squirrel

I won’t even give this exhibitionist, inappropriately named chip the satisfaction of exclaiming over its name. The flavor is the most mundane of the bunch, a vaguely Louisiana, vaguely BBQ tang that while not bad, is nothing we haven’t had a million times before.

Onion Bhaji

My favorite of the bunch. The curry flavoring complements the potato well, while in general it’s a decent approximation of the ubiquitous mid-level curry available throughout the UK. After a beat, a mild onion flavor hits, adding a third complementary flavor to the chip.

Fish & Chips

Imagine the grossest, slimiest, indistinguishable, grey pile of limp fish and chips splayed on a plate in front of you, fluorescent lights buzzing overhead, in some depressing landlocked town in the middle of England. That is what these monstrosities taste like. If that’s what they were going for, they have succeeded nicely. Stay away!

Crispy Duck & Hoisin

Replicating a meat in a chip is always a tricky and curious business. Though “vegetarian friendly” it makes one think too much of the machines that replicate living creatures, or once living, in a bleak Dickian fantasy. These chips are not a success; the taste is odd enough to eat a few, but ultimately the fake duck flavor and the tangy hoisin sauce are hollow. Once the novelty wears thin, nothing remains.

Builder’s Breakfast

These took a little while, and again, one cannot help but think of the machines. These proclaim utility in that they claim to be perfect for those on the go in the morning who haven’t had time for their big disgusting English breakfast. They pack in eggs, bacon, tomato, beans, mushrooms, blood pudding, toast, rashers, etc. Admittedly impressive in that the chip does succeed in providing these flavors, triggered in succession rather than simultaneously. The egg flavor though gradually becomes sulfuric, and when you get that idea in your head, the chips become vile, tasting literally like a big bag of farts!

Chilli & Chocolate

Apparently the combination of chilli & chocolate has become increasingly popular in the UK. Being of “Aztec origin” is novel there, where South and Central American flavors are largely unknown, and usually done poorly when at all. These chips are interesting, and while I can’t call them good, they aren’t offensive. Combining a healthy heat and the richness rather than the sweetness of chocolate, it’s easy to eat a whole bag trying to decipher the flavor. They retain a certain mystery, perhaps one of the hardest qualities to achieve in a chip. Maybe, in fact, I can call them good.

What about Blighty?

If Europe is a whole different world of chips, then the UK is its uhhhhh Lisa Bonet. Lisa Bonet ate no basil!! Anyway, I got these chips, apparently called "Real" at a - ugh - Starbuxxx in Cardiff, Wales. They do both what I like and dislike about new, let's call them, to coin a gross phrase "conscious chips." Or excuse me, in this case CRISPS. These conscious crisps take the modern packaging too far into saccharine cuteness. The translucent bag is awesome and tasteful, but the cutesy copy on the front makes it obnoxious. The ingredients are all natural, and their love of the chip seems genuine, but I think they fail where a bit of humility and subtlety would have suited better. Tracking with the hit-you-over-the-head-ness are the chips themselves. The mature cheddar and spring onion flavoring is far too dense, and honestly I could only eat a handful before being overwhelmed with the intense flavor. They nail the hand-cooked kettle crunch, but the flavoring is too broad, too obtuse. I appreciate the sincerity but nothing of its execution.

Date with Ikea

It’s been way too long since the last chipweb update! Since November, I have visited the vast, confusing, wonderful, horrible and thrilling world of European chipdom, and now plan on sharing what I found. I’ll start with the Swedes, and the lovable LantChips, which I did not buy in Sweden, but rather and rather conveniently in an Ikea.

All nuance aside, most decent potato chips taste at least fleetingly similar; these LantChips taste more like potatoes than any others I’ve had. The first bite triggers one of those moments in eating, rare and always unforgettable, of “oh, this is what this is supposed to taste like,” like fresh from the farm milk or the perfect Florida orange. LantChips taste like potato chips! Like a chipped potato. Unfortunately, I'm writing of the taste from memory, so gone are any adequate words I could use to describe these "Scandinavian style" chips. They were brittle, with a deep crunch, and not too salty. They simply were unique, perhaps due to the specific breed of potato used. They were “dirty” – blemishes and possibly some skins left unpeeled – they taste of the earth and of dirt. The back of the bag contains a few paragraphs about the cooking process, written with an obvious pride and understanding. I tried salted and sour cream & onion, the latter containing chips with an almost impossibly subtle dusting of flavor. A perfect accompaniment to a sandwich lunch, they are certainly exceptional, and blow out of the water most chips in this country. As their website proclaims: “The English translation is under construction.”

You’re the one for me, fatty

I don’t know what genius came up with the name Nibble with Gibble’s Gibble’s, but I can say with certainty that the best way from which to enjoy the redundantly named chips is in the “Regular Pak,” apparently their most readily available. The back of this chip bag contains a five paragraph dictum – more like a manifesto – rationalizing, quite effectively, their choice of lard in the cooking procedure over heavily-processed oils, painting it as a simple, old, and natural product. It’s hard to argue with this:

“Do you realize that, commonly, to produce vegetable oil, seeds must be roasted, steel rolled, and flowed with hexane solvent to extract the oil, which is then treated with lye, neutralized with hydrochloric acid, filtered through diatomaceous earth, and deodorized under high temperature?”

While that might be a lot of technical jargon, the fact that they have chosen to even describe such a dreary series of events earns my respect.

Their pak is from another time. Its mid century design makes the whole snacking experience anachronistic, historic, and certainly special. The chips themselves are the finest lard chips I’ve ever had – not too greasy or overwhelmingly fatty and perfectly salted; this pak is the perfect snack!!!

Somehow Nibble with Gibble’s Gibble’s procured the phone number 1 (800) THE CHIP
And the back contains both ths slogans “From our home to yours” and contains the old string around the finger “Fight litter, recycle” clipart.



Wow. Special thanks to the unreasonably good and able Rebecca Ross for bringing me these three chip bags that she bought at an ACME supermarket in Akron, Ohio. I can't imagine going into a supermarket and seeing so many local chip brands. What CENTURY would I think I was in?? Just another reason why Ohioans defy their unfortunate geography and end up RULING more than those in nearly any other state! Cursory research reveals that Ohio houses the country’s second highest amount of potato chip companies (PA is the first) and so here is a fine sampling of localized flavor and charm that one might find on any trip to that small but crucial swing state.

These, despite clearly winning in the design category, are unfortunately not good! A preliminary pat of the bag reveals a paltry amount of chips within, and they themselves follow suit in their mediocrity. It’s not a strong crunch, made worse by the fact they’re kettle-cooked, and the taste is odd, despite claims of being cooked in typical oils. That said, however, Corell’s is a tiny company, and I must give them their due for simply existing at all. Located in landlocked Beach City, they have been turning out their chips for the last 75 years, and deserve a special note for their purity and simplicity: They make only one kind of chip. Oil, salt, potatoes. And nothing else.

Gold’n Krisp
I’ve heard lots of good things about Stark County’s Gold’n Krisp Kettle Cook’d chips and was excited to try them. I was impressed by the consistency of the chips themselves; all were folded over, clearly a result of the cooking method. A solid, historic crunch reveals the true source of their cooking oil: Lard. Though listed on the back as “shortening and/or lard” it is clear which of those two finds its way to the kettle with more regularity. A hint of bacon makes the chips decadent, and, for me, a little heavy; I only will eat a few at a time before images of bacon fat clogging my arteries make me give up on snacking. While not entirely my bag, these are very good, localized chips that have more than earned their reputation as “internationally known!”

O.K. Chips are made in Canton, Ohio and they are nothing if not modest. O.K. chips are actually FANTASTIC. Up there with Seyfert’s as the best chips I have ever had the pleasure to DEVOUR. A beautiful, autumnal golden brown, thicker cut than your average fried chip, and salted to perfection, these are potato chips at their greasy finest. The metallic bag in which they are packaged is the perfect encasement for these stellar, medal-deserving chips.

You Can Vote However You Like

I’ve heard lots of good things about Middleswarth Potato Chips, hailing from Middleburg, PA. (Where are these little towns, exactly? The same ones, I hope and fear, that will decide our next president on Tuesday. Chipmakers for Obama!!!) Anyway, I was disappointed in these chips in that they were cooked in vegetable shortening – a cooking method of which I’m just not a fan. It renders – literally -- the chip somewhat soggy, greasy in a heavy way, and weak in its crunch. That being said, these chips were better than some vegetable shortened chips, care was obviously put into their creation, and they were lovingly packaged by a family-owned company. For those reasons, then, I would recommend a bag of Middleswarth on anyone’s tour of Pennsylvania’s vast chip-making land.

Brazil, nuts!

Somewhat surprisingly, New York City holds a dearth of interesting or unique potato chip brands. It is good for, however, the odd international chip, and I was excited to find Denise Snacks potato chips in a supermarket in Brooklyn. Hailing from Brazil, and sold with the help of a frightening cartoon mascot, these “papa frita ondulada” are TERRIBLE! Yes, they even list MSG in the ingredient list, in some sad, hopeful thinking that that evil flavor intensifier could help its limp chip. Furthermore, these chips are cooked in vegetable fat, which often leads to a weaker crunch and an inferior chip. Though I appreciate Denise Snacks’ availability in the five boroughs, its chips could barely even be called potato chips in fear of degrading that name.

Out of the Ground and Into the Deep-Fryer

Lord, I’ve found them. America’s best potato chips: Seyfert’s, made by Troyer Farms in the little town of Waterford, PA in the northwest corner of that potato chip rich state! Cursory research finds them to be America’s ONLY chip company that grows its own potatoes! And you can absolutely taste the difference. Fried in cottonseed and salted, there is nothing inherently exceptional about the ingredient list, though the impossibly flavorful product leads to speculation. Maybe the fact that those potatoes went nowhere but from the ground directly into the fryer makes all the difference. These are sustainable chips for a more reasonable time: No fossil fuels required, no distance traveled before the chips were packaged. In a way, then, they are fresher than any chips claiming to be cooked on the spot, for really can something freshly deep-fried really be considered fresh at all? Though a just unearthed, localized potato instantly deep-fried and then packaged could reasonably called fresh. Seyfert’s, along with, confusingly, brother brand Dan Dee (confirmed by a Troyer Farms rep to be the exact same product) are to me the freshest chips in the land, but more importantly they are simply the best tasting. DO NOT MISS THIS CHIP!

It's His Factory

Chicagoland’s most famous chips, Jay’s, went into bankruptcy late last year and its local plant closed, leaving the future of the chip unclear and 220 employees out in the Chicago cold. In an act of corporate solidarity to save an historic chip, Snyder’s of Hanover purchased the company and the legendary chips have stayed on the shelf, at least for the time being. Jay's motto is justly “can’t stop eating ‘em.” I wasn’t hungry when I plowed into a bag, and I found myself, a mere five minutes later licking the last lonely crumbs off my disgusting, calloused fingers. The chips are fantastic; simple, cooked in 100% corn oil, with the right amount of salt, and sliced to the perfect thickness, they are some of the country’s best chips, and it will be a sad day if indeed they are no more. Save Jay’s!

The Times They Are A-Changin'

The gritty, anachronistic charm of Booche’s in Columbia, Missouri is exemplified in its attention to little details: The ancient, intact score-keeping wires above the pool tables, the pint sized bathroom with no sink for hand-washing, in the transcendent little burgers they churn out hourly, whose quality and haste mock anything labeled “fast food” in the area, and in the availability of the hopelessly regionalized Backer’s chips, as accompaniment to the burgers. The chips’ simple, old world packaging anticipates the product within: A thin, no nonsense chip. Not extraordinary in taste, their mere existence is worth noting; Bill Backer has kept with his family business for the better part of 70 years. Where 30 years ago Missouri hosted 25 potato chip companies, today Backer’s is its sole representative. The sad reality of such tenacity means selling your chips to other companies that re-brand them as their own. While such deception is just another reason to despise the Wal-marts of the world, the availability at all of the historic Backer’s chips is one reason to rejoice at what we still have, as we slip and fall into (knock, knock, knock on wood) the Obama years.

baked lays

ok - so i can't disclose what i do for a living or who my client is but just know that today it involved a lot of THESE. they're crispy, flakey, good texture but hey, i just can't get into health-ier chips. if i could re make them, i'd add some packets of low calorie, low sodium flavor like ketchup, or baked chicken or even onion powder. they're much too dry and tasteless without something to balance it out.

Durty North

I was surprised to see Old Dutch potato chips available in every corner store in Canada. I know it simply as a small regional brand in the US, based out of St. Paul, MN. Apparently early on in the company’s history, they opened a plant in Winnipeg and have become a major player in Canada’s chip game. Its trucks litter provincial roads bringing all types of Old Dutch products to stores and gas stations, in a long line ranging from cheese curls to their brand of tortilla chips, Aribas. As for the potato chips, I stuck to the old style rather than the kettle-cooked line, and tried the Dill Pickle and All Dressed. The former was adequate if unexceptional: An MSG-sprinkled dill flavor over a modest chip. It was the cryptic “All Dressed” though which intrigued me and still does to this day. An informal poll of random Canadians proved unhelpful, apparently most people have no idea what "All Dressed" even means – I certainly don’t - though conjecture has put it as having all the flavors (an impossible feat). It tasted to me like Walker’s Cheese and Onion flavoring, and I was pleasantly surprised by the subtlety of the dressing, certainly betraying its name. Rather than being absolute it tasted to me like a bit of garlic, onion, and cheese. (No - vinegar! - ed.) The Old Dutch tortilla line is boisterously called ARIBA and I will say their nacho cheese chips are delicious. Tasting to me like the Bravo brand bodega staple, they have a little more corn flavor than your original Dorito and still make you want to lick the flavoring from the chip. All solid!

Tasty Snaxxx

What the heck are Sabritas? I’m assuming Frito-Lay’s Mexican imprint, though that company’s name is absent from the packaging. I bought this bag of Sabritas in a wonderful Mexican grocery store in Chapel Hill, NC and was dismayed to find upon their opening the expiration date passed and the chips stale and old. A shame really, in that I can’t adequately judge them here, though I can say they are probably similar if not the exact same product as your original Lay’s.