Old Dutch Potato chips make good on their promise of “delivered fresh from the heart of the upper Midwest.” Based in St. Paul, they’ve been lovingly making their chips for over 70 years. The originals are perfect: light, crunchy, irresistible. The dill flavor are great, albeit cheating a bit with a dose of MSG: still the vinegar, dill, and parsley with which its coated is subtle and good. Old Dutch’s kettle chips are thicker cut, and offer a heartier crunch than their original chips. The mesquite BBQ is bold and full-bodied, if maybe being a bit too singular in its taste to make it through a whole bag. The Parmesan & Garlic are more subtly flavored, its charm is more of a slow burn, certain chips taste more garlic than parmesan, and others vice versa. Old Dutch is a great American chip company!
I picked up a bag of Mrs. Fisher’s at a gas station somewhere near the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. The packaging’s design was charming enough, but a quick squeeze of the bag instantly dashed any expectation that this was to be a solid chip. Awkwardly housed in a thick “new package for extra thickness” i could tell that the chips would be weak-crunching. The long list of ingredients necessary to make the BBQ flavoring further diminished my expectations. I was not disappointed in my initial judgment. These chips were DISGUSTING!!! Crunching as if they’d been dropped in a bathtub, and flavored so harshly and with such obtuse carelessness, me and me mates could only down a few chips before giving up and tossing the bag. Stay away!
Detroit is one of my favorite places in America. It bore the entire Twentieth Century on its rusty legs and stands today broken and reborn, as positive testament to its people’s resolve. But I can’t talk about that here. I can talk about its chips, as wholly tenacious and proud as the city itself. I went for a Coney at Lafayette Coney Island, and to accompany their unrivaled signature dish, they offer bags of Better Made chips. The chips completely live up to their name; sliced thin, crunchy, eaten by the handful, gone too soon, cooked in cottonseed oil, they are a reminder of the simple food that, when accurately combined, makes a potato chip transcendent: oil, salt and potatoes. In 1934, Detroit had over twenty potato chip companies, today only one remains. Made with Michigan potatoes at a union plant, Ready Made is the kind of chip company that America needs. It is the past and, like the city in which it was birthed, it is the future.
This is my second post about Snyder of Berlin. This time I tried their Kettle-style variety, specifically their Hawaiian Sweet Onion. They were fantastic! The kettle krunch is there, but here the flavor makes them stick out. It’s subtle (betraying the paragraph ingredient list!), not too sweet, not too salty, with suggestion of onion, coconut, and Romano cheese. The back of the bag contains the disclaimer, “We are not connected with Snyder’s of Hanover, Inc. of Hanover, PA.”
What can you say about Utz that hasn’t already been said? They do everything right. Aesthetically perfect packaging, where bold colors signify different flavors, a homegrown operation based out of Lancaster, PA, and a great product put UTZ up there in the major leagues of chipdom. The BBQ and Sour Cream and Onion flavors are classics; eat them by the mouthful, light and crisp, flavoring does not overwhelm the potato flavor. These are for some the chips against which all others are judged. UTZ has in recent years branched out to a plethora of other chips: balls, pretzels, snack mixes, gourmet chips, but they recognize the importance of keeping above all their classics available to all. Grandma UTZ are their attempt at harkening back to their first chip; a thicker-sliced, hand-cooked in lard chip, that while I think is decent, is too bacon-y to eat more than a few, and doesn’t hold a candle to their unadorned, classic chip.