A potato chip rant

If I had to pick just one snack food (to bring to me on that proverbial desert island) it would be potato chips. I love chips but I'm very picky about them too. The New York Times has a feature on chips in today's Dining section, in which they list their top 10 chips (in the Multimedia feature). Sadly they don't mention my favorite brand, Terra Chips.

I love Terra Chips so much that I used to carry home bags of them in an otherwise empty suitcase, every time I went to New York. (I haven't found Terra Chips outside of the NYC area...though maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.) But for the last 2 years or so I haven't had to do this - because, joy of joys, Migros, the no. 1 supermarket chain in Switzerland, licensed the Terra Chip name and the technology. I danced for joy when this happened because the standard chip in Switzerland really, horribly, sucks. The Migros Terra Chips cost twice as much as the awful Zwiefel brand, but are worth every single rappen.

Keeping on the subject of chips - one thing I do not get at all about chips (or crisps as they are called in the UK) is the European propensity for flavored chips. Can't European people appreciate the simple elegance and pure potato flavor of a chip that is only flavored with salt, or even unsalted? I can sort of appreciate vinegar flavored chips and lemon flavored chips, but I can't go any further. Even the Migros Terra Chips suffer from this: they have a luridly green Wasabi Chip, which is coated with green dyed horseradish powder, and the ubiquitous Paprika Chips (for some reason paprika is a very popular snack flavor here). The Greco Chips are flavored with feta and herbs, and are not too shabby, but are far inferior to the plain salted chip.

The country that is the worst in the flavored chip/crisp realm is the UK, where you can find things like Roast Chicken and Cheese and Onion flavored crisps - all variations of fake, MSG-laden powders that only sully the potato beneath. I love many things about Britain but definitely not the crisps/chips!

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I have the damnedest time trying to find lightly salted chips in the US. I'm one of those people who really enjoy a lightly salted chip, because it lets the fried potato taste come through. And potatoes have this sweetness to them, as long as you don't oversalt the chip.

Lightly salted is available as a flavor everywhere I've lived, but it's a lot harder to find in the US than anywhere else.

Funny that you mention flavored chips--just the other night I picked up a bag of gyoza-flavored chips at the conbini around the corner. I don't usually care for the flavored chips (pizza, sour cream, consomme?!), but these things were light and crispy and really did taste just like gyoza.

My only wish for chips in Japan is for something with a "regular" salt flavor rather than the "lightly-salted" standard.

I usually dislike potato chips, but I love the other-veggie Terra Chips. I did try the wasabi Terra Chips from Migros the other day, since I love wasabi-flavored snacks - I thought they weren't bad for potato chips. :)

Recently on a trip to the US I was amazed at the amount of flavoured chips(crisps) you can get. Pringles, a US product has over 40 flavours, such choice.
Also the size of the bags of chips were massive.My youngest loves Pringles salted light, though I'm not really a chips(crisps) personally. I do however eat Kettle chips occasionally and they don't have any MSG, really good chips though.
You definitely sound like a connoisseur of chips.

....shudder...( but yeah, kids love them :( )

oh, the humanity. paprika-flaovoured chips. i live in germany, and i love plain salted chips, and man, I'd never even seen paprika flavoured chips before, and now that's pretty much All There Is. sigh

Maki, have you ever tasted the Swedish chips sold at Ikea that were in the NY Times slide show of favorite chips? I haven't but will get some next time I'm there. I would love some kettle style chips but doubt I will find any here. Maybe Globus for an arm and a leg! What's weird is that Coop sells all kinds of American cookies but no chips. Go figure.

roanne the Ikea chips are pretty good! They are actually in the NY Times top 10 too. Just a bit greasy for me, but I do like them. They are CHF 3.50 (when I looked at Ikea Spreitenbach). Not sure if they are kettle chips but they are in that style.

I found the article's rant about lard in potato chips very amusing, since I'm rather fond of chips done in lard. A few are good, and more aren't good since the flavors go dull rather quickly. I find this a perfect trait in a treat that's easy to over eat otherwise. I'm also rather fond of the dark fried chips, for much the same reason.

As far as flavorings go, salt or salt and vinegar. My partner is rather fond of a salt and pepper chip, and that can be nice too.

Indeed, animal fat is very tasty for frying! Suet is great too. Ah, the arteries...

I love love love Terra chips! Not all of em, mainly the spicy taro chips. If that counts. I could eat a whole bag more quickly than is deemed healthy. I also used to be obsessed with some kind of Calbee potato stick snack when I was little, but I can't find it anymore

I like plain potato chips the most too (well, salted, or lightly salted), but once I had ketchup flavored chips from Canada (don't think anyone makes em here) and I really liked em!

Hmm...do you mean kappa ebisen?

I had to laugh when you said that the UK was the worst offender for flavoring their potato chips. Don't you think Japan leads the pack in that department? Ebi Mayo, Okomiyaki, Pizza, Cheese Curry, Tonkatsu, Ceasar Salad, Tandori Chicken, Indo Curry, Mapodofu, Cream Croquette, Consommé, Hamburger, Shio Ramen, Takoyaki, and Corn Soup flavors--just to name a few...

Good point there...Japanese chip flavors are also quite strange. (but I guess I just hate that Roast Chicken flavor so much!)

Actually, Walkers have released in a UK UNSALTED chips, with a little salt bag inside the package so you can put in as much ( or as little) salt as you'd like. In the US, Kettle Chips now also makes plain potato chips- no added salt, no nothing...Just potatoes and oil-Absolutely De-LISH! :D

My absolute favorite chips are the blue potato chips by Terra... at least I think they are by Terra. I just adore them! I'll have to try the unsalted kettle chips, because I haven't seen them yet. I like baked chips quite a bit, but I notice they always add extra salt to "make up for" the lack of oil, and it's usually a bit much.

-Seamaiden of Book of Yum

Love, love, love potato chips. Of course the best I've ever eaten were about 5 minutes old from the little factory, sadly short-lived, my father set up when I was about 7, even better when they were cadged off the assembly line, still hot.

In recent years I love the kettle chips done in vegetable oil. I hate the ones done in hydrogenated fake, probably genetically modified, soya or palm oil which seems to be all the stores carry here in Japan. They might taste sort-of okay but I just don't want that stuff in my arteries. Can't get the good (liquid oil) margarine here either, solid as a block and everyone eats it thinking it's healthy.

There are a weird array of chip flavours in Japan, but some of the strangest are reserved for those air-filled puffs we knew as cheese straws, but here are flavours like Shrimp and Green Pea. Unfortunately they taste better than they should, probably due to gallons of MSG and salt, if I could read the labels. I can't, so I mostly avoid them.

Blue chips sound heavenly. I love the organic blue corn ones.

There is a trend in Spain right now for flavored chips but the usual here has been plain, salted or unsalted potato chips.

Actually the first time i tried flavored chips was in London back to 1992. Flavored chips arrived in Spain like in 1997 or so.

So I understan you very well! I remember when I was a child going with my dad to shops that made their own, fresh, home made potato chips and buy BIG bags for the weekend. Most of these shops have disappeared right now, though there is a brand called "Lays" that carries something alike. Not the same, though.

My potato-chip-lover dad buys from a small brand called "Patatas fritas La Montaña", but as fas as I know they are only sold in the northern Madrid area. They are really good, so if you happen to come here be sure to try them! ;)

I too °love° wasabi chips, and find the Chio Wasabi chips muchh better than Terras.. did you try them ? I get them from Coop, or some Kiosks, cant find them at Migros though..

With Terra, its too strong, I can only have 2-3 chips at a time, but with Chio its just right, and the chips are thinner, I can eat more and relish the Wasabi flavour :)

Amazing how taste in chips/crisps is so varied! I like the texture of standard Lays/Ruffles type of chip as opposed to the thicker Kettle type. My problem is that I can't stand any of the flavoured ones - even Salt & Vinegar. Granted I haven't tried them all (an act of self-torture, I fear) but I find that the first taste sensation I get every time is one of chemical flavour simulation. I guess that makes sense given most are imbued with lab-engineered concoctions that have been deemed to taste like the food in question (how, I don't know - focus groups maybe?). One part of the problem is I'm not big on salt (I find even Lightly Salted overdone!) I've never seen unsalted chips here - maybe I should search them out (though I suspect they'd be some Kettle-like variety...). The other part of the problem is that many years ago I was introduced to the best chip I have ever taste while visiting friends in Belgium. They were, of course, paprika flavoured! Perfect thin texture, very lightly salted and clearly sprinkled with (not coated with REAL paprika! Apparently, paprika is the biggest flavour in Europe now - can it be too much to hope that they're not full of simulated paprika-like flavouring?