Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ultimate Potato Chip Taste Test

From bleu cheese to black pepper, honey dijon to hickory barbeque, who can keep up with all the latest twists on potato chips? Whether it’s just the plain and simple classics, or a new-fangled gourmet version, suddenly our grocery store shelves seem to be brimming with a slew of irresistible-sounding varieties. Being chip lovers, we decided it was time to check them out for ourselves. Mmmm, tough assignment...

  • Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips - These tasty babies are 65% less fat (about 3 grams of fat and 120 calories for 20) than regular potato chips and they really hold up -- we practically devoured the entire bag in one sitting! They're super crunchy, loaded with flavor (just pure, natural potatoes here with a little salt and oil) and 100% satisfying. We're hooked!
  • Trader Joe's Popped Potato Chips - These curved, disk shaped chips tout they're "never baked, never fried." Instead, the potatoes are popped by adding heat and pressure! Clever idea, huh? And, this process results in yet another irresistible snack that's lower in calories (4 grams of fat and 120 calories for 22), but definitely not lower in taste. They're light, airy and still very crispy, and we've already run out to buy a few extra bags.
  • Rock 'n Roll Gourmet Hippie Chips - Similar to the Popped chips, these guys are curved, disk shaped and almost the same fat and calories, but the hook here is that they're made with organic hemp seeds which are loaded with essential fatty acids and reportedly have many health benefits. Tastewise, they're definitely the lightest of the low calorie bunch and not as crunchy. But if you're looking for a groovy, healthy twist on the good ol' potato chip then these could be right up your alley. For more info check out their website.
  • Kettle Krinkle-Cut Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper – Spiked with spicy flecks of black pepper, these are dangerously addictive. They were not the first chips we tasted, so by the time we got to them we were promising ourselves to eat only 2-3 chips – max. Just not possible with these – you’re lucky if you stop before the bag is empty!
  • Kettle Yogurt & Green Onion – Slightly sweet when you first pop them in your mouth, followed by a quick tang, these are perfection. Personally, we’re not big on “flavored” chips because they tend to be overpowering, but these are the ideal balance of toasty potato + oniony goodness.
  • Tim’s Reduced Fat Lightly Salted Chips – These boast “40% less fat” than regular chips, but weighing in at 6 grams per serving we didn’t quite get the math. Still, they’re definitely lighter, no doubt about it. As for the “lightly salted” part, we could taste the reduced sodium and liked it (110mg per ounce vs an average of 150-200mg in other brands). If you crave potato chips for the salt fix, these aren’t for you. But we loved the fact that they weren’t going to make us feel five pounds heavier in the morning. Overall, a healthier option that’s still super satisfying.
  • Hawaiian Original Kettle Style Chips – Our idea of the perfect chip. Great, not too salty, and a smaller-than-average size (not the gigundo ones that make you feel like you’re binging).
  • Lays Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Extra Crunchy – A tad too sweet and a bit chemical tasting, but still we found it hard to stop munching. These are the perfect snacky ballgame chip, but not something we’d be inclined to eat with a meal.
  • Terra Sweets & Carrots – The bag says there’s “a full serving of vegetables in every ounce” - and no trans fats (which can increase the risk of heart disease). Sounds good enough. As for the taste, we loved it. These are very low in sodium (20mg per ounce) and a bit higher in sugar (other chips average 0-1 grams of sugar while these have 7 grams). The carrots and sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and rich, making for an indulgent gourmet spin on the classic.
  • Boulder Canyon All Natural Malt Vinegar & Sea Salt – In our humble opinion, salt and vinegar chips are one of the BEST junk foods ever invented. That said, we were a bit alarmed to read the label and discover these have a whopping 410mg of sodium per ounce. Yeah, they are S-A-L-T-Y. And incredibly, irresistibly delicious. We would easily down a whole bag.

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