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Bargaining Chip: America’s Favorite Snack Currency

By: Nicholas Dal Porto

Six taste tasters blindly tried four different sea salt flavored potato chips to see which was the best. Photo by Nicholas Dal Porto

Potato chips have been a staple of the American snack cuisine since 1817. Endless varieties and flavors line the supermarket and convenience store shelves, waiting to be consumed and satisfy the eater’s craving. However, these expansive options can be confusing and frustrating. What’s the difference between “Uncle Joe’s Kettle Fried Chip Goodness” and “Aunt Sally’s Kettle Cooked Potato Crunchers”? To find the truth, six Dragon staffers (Michael Bentley, Natalie Cheyette, Max Otake, Sophia Li, Sofya Shatalova, and Hayden Navarro) engaged in a blind taste-test of popular chip brands’ “sea salt” varieties.

 

Sea Salted “DIRTY” Potato Chips. Photo taken by Nicholas Dal Porto

Chip Variety #1: Sea Salted “DIRTY” Potato Chips 

 

The classic but rebellious DIRTY brand potato chips are a common sight in sandwich  shops and delis around the country.

The testers were mixed, with some describing the chips as “pretty bland and basic” and “very potato-like”. On the other hand, one of our reviewers went as far to say “The folds on the chips add an extra crunch that make for a perfect consumption enjoyment.” One universally accepted critique was that the chips were lacking in the sodium chloride department, so keep reading if a savory salt experience is your thing.

 

 

Sea Salt Kettle Brand Potato Chips. Photo by Nicholas Dal Porto.

Chip Variety #2: Sea Salt Kettle Brand Potato Chips 

Kettle is a household name, and stands alone as the largest producer of natural potato chips in the United States. The signature packaging advertises “great taste… naturally”.

Most reviewers said it tasted “decent” and one added there were “oily tastes with each chomp”. They have “a hint of vinegar” and are “very salty”. However, our group of intrepid foodies found the chips “inconsistent” and said they have “very strong potato flavor”, making this a hit-or-miss option except for the salt-lovers among us.

 

 

Chip Variety #3: Olive Oil Boulder Canyon Potato Chips 

Olive Oil Boulder Canyon Potato Chips. Photo taken by Nicholas Dal Porto

A lesser known brand pioneered by two brothers in Boulder, Colorado in the 1990s, these advertise all-natural ingredients to appease a health-conscious populus.

These chips are flavored with olive oil rather than sea salt, and hence they threw our staff for a loop when they tried them. Most found them “flavorless” and analogized the taste to “cardboard” and “beige paint”. Tasters found few to no redeeming qualities, and the proportion of salt to flavor was deemed problematic. Unless you’re trying to avoid salt for dietary reasons or other, the Boulder Canyon chips are ones to skip.

 

 

 

Chip Variety #4 Sea Salted Deep River Snacks Kettle Chips

Sea Salted Deep River Snacks Kettle. Photo taken by Nicholas Dal Porto

There isn’t much to be said about Deep River Snacks. You’ll usually find them in the convenience store chip aisle.

The tasting experience for these proved to be lackluster. The chips were devoid of flavor, but “the crunch was solid”. They were “very salty” but conversely “tasted like they’ve been sitting in an old women’s cupboard”. It’s clear that “the tofu of chips” was one to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully you’ve been enlightened to the various delicious (and less-so) qualities of the four chips we’ve reviewed. Do you have a favorite brand and style? Do you absolutely love one of the kinds we reviewed? Have suggestions for future reviews? Drop a comment below.

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