RATING: Trader Jose’s – Salted Tortilla Chips

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

Trader Jose's - Salted Tortilla Chips

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REVIEW: Pop! Gourmet Popcorn & Huy Fong Foods – The Original Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Popcorn

Rating: ©©©©-1/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn - Huy Fong's SrirachaPop! Gourmet and Huy Fong Productions present to you – The One, The Only, The Original-trailblazer – Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Popcorn!!

By now, we have to assume that you are familiar with this uber popular, green capped, chili sauce. Let’s be honest, Huy Fong’s Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is anywhere and everywhere!! In fact, we’re fairly certain that most people can’t even separate Huy Fong’s bright red, green capped, rooster gracing, bottle from Thailand’s Sriracha chili sauce.  Although companies other than Huy Fong do actually make sriracaha chili sauce, it seems as though the two are forever synonymous with one another.  Sort of like the way Kleenex is how many of us refer to facial tissue these days.  Huy Fong cornered the sriracha market, and capitalized on the deliciously red, Thai chili sauce – forever catapulting it into hot sauce stardom!!

All that being said, it wasn’t until relatively recently (and by that we mean about a year) that the trend of Sriracha flavored snacks really took off!  To date, we have tasted six different sriracha flavored snacks including these. And, for the most part we have really enjoyed the majority of them. Amazingly enough, this popcorn is the very first one to officially team up with Huy Fong’s famous green capped Sriracha Sauce (even though it is sort of obvious that J&D’s Sriracha Popcorn is not so subtly utilizing Huy Fong’s unmistakable bottle on their bag).

One final example of how engrained Huy Fong’s Sriracha Chili Sauce is in, at least our lives, would be the simple fact that we nearly walked right passed this popcorn in the grocery store today. Not because we didn’t notice it, but just because we saw the bright red bag, white rooster, green top and, said “oh, Sriracha?”  Luckily we did a double take and noticed that this was Huy Fong’s venture into popcornland with the help of Pop! Gourmet Popcorn.

This popcorn is really delicious!  D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s, delicious; but with a surprisingly subtle seasoning when compared directly against the real hot sauce.  Rather than actually tasting like popcorn coated with hot chili sauce, the seasoning tasted more like a sweetened, dehydrated, and more timid variation of those classic Sriracha flavors!  In fact, we would have liked a bit more of the funky chili pepper, and tart vinegar notes to mingle with the sweet, heat and garlic punch.  But, other than that, the flavors do a decent job of mimicking Sriracha.  A good level of red chili heat, plenty of potent garlic, lots and lots of sugar, decent salt level, with just a little bit of the actual chili pepper flavor, and vinegar.  The popcorn itself was fresh, crispy, not necessarily light, but more toothsome, and with a decently rich level of satisfyingly delicious oil.  Plain and simple, everyone was really happy with this popcorn. The same way everyone seems to always be always happy with Huy Fong’s Sriracha Hot Sauce.

P.S. – Raise of hands, how many of you out there knew that Sriracha was pronounced nothing like it is spelled?  That’s right, “I” before “R” except after “S” apparently…  Say it with us “SI-racha,” not “SREE-racha.”  According to Wikipedia, “It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Prvince of Eastern Thailand.”  Which makes total sense, but why the additional ‘R”??  It makes no sense!  We like pronouncing Sriracha correctly, about as much as we like the pronunciation of a certain retired Green Bay Packer QB!!  Sorry Brett Favre, it is FAV-RE, not FARVE!!

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree, let us know.

Discovered at Pete’s Fresh Market; Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois

Huy Fong Official Website

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn Official Website

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RATING: El Milagro – Mexican Kitchen Style Sea Salt Totopos

Rating: ©©©©-1/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

El Milagro - Totopos

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REVIEW: Skinnygirl – Olive Oil & Pink Himalayan Salt Popcorn

Rating: ©© chips  (tolerable)

Skinny Girl - Olive Oil PopcornWe’ve tried a few different styles and flavors of Skinnygirl Snacks so far, and they’ve varied from just okay, to rather lip-smacking.  But, for those of you who haven’t already read any of those reviews, you maybe asking yourself “What the heck is a Skinnygirl Snack?  Do we have to be skinny girls to enjoy these chips?  Will these chips transform us into skinny girls?  Were these chips made by a group of skinny girls?” We should let you know, these are all good and viable questions, and we asked the same ones ourselves when we first encountered Skinnygirl Snacks.  However, all we really want to know, and what we think you really want to know, is if these Skinnygirl Snacks really taste good? (…And, we can confirm that you do not need to be a skinny girl to eat these snacks, you don’t even have to be a girl, nor will these snacks turn you into a skinny girl, especially if you are not a girl!).

Olive Oil & Pink Himalayan Salt, or as we are going to refer to it as, lacking flavor of any sort!  Seriously, this popcorn reminded us of of the old school, air popped popcorn that mom and dad used to make at home.  More specifically, those bright white kernels that never got coated or even kissed with any delicious melted butter, meaning that no salt would adhere to them, meaning that they tasted like light and crispy cardboard puffs.  Maybe we got a bad bag, we can’t be sure (we could if we tried another bag, but we do not have another bag), but basing our review on this bag alone, this is some practically intolerable popcorn.  We could not recognize any of the olive oil flavor, and the salt level on a scale of 1 to 10, would register at a 2.  The kernels were very light and crispy, and probably the only reason we did not rate them even lower.

Maybe the secret with this Skinnygirl Popcorn is that it is so unflavorful that we won’t want to eat very much of it, and thus we will become skinny?  Not sure how the girl part is going to work for those of us that are boys though!

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips provided to Chip Review by Barrel O’ Fun Snacks for review

Barrel O’ Fun Official Website

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REVIEW: The Original Saratoga Chips – Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips  (lip-smacking)

Original Saratoga Chips - Sea Salt & Cracked PepperSea Salt & Cracked Pepper – as classic a combination as there ever was.  Sort of like Saratoga, N.Y. and horse racing, or Chip Review and…..well, chips of course!!  Similar to the last bag of Saratoga Chips we reviewed, we have been meaning to get to these for quite some time now!  Well, that time has come, and let’s get this race started!

We’ve reviewed a handful of Saratoga Chips in the past year or two, and we’ve really liked them all.  If you’ve read any of those other reviews then you may want to skip over the the re-cap directly below; but for those of you who aren’t caught up on your Saratoga Chips history, you should appreciate the following.  And so the story goes:

A patron at Moon’s Lake House ordered fried potatoes with his meal. The diner complained that the potatoes were too thick and sent them back to the cook.

The cook at the restaurant was George Crum, who is described as Native American in some accounts and an African American in others. There is agreement, however, on Crum’s disposition—he was generally ornery. Upset that someone would criticize his cooking, Crum sliced a new batch of potatoes paper-thin, fried them in boiling oil to a crisp, and then salted them.

But what was intended as a stunt turned into an instant hit – the fussy patron and his friends loved the “crunch potato slices.” Soon the chips became known as Saratoga Chips. At first they were served in restaurants throughout the region. When George Crum left Moon’s Lake Inn to start his own restaurant called “Crumbs House,” he placed large baskets of the chips on every table. It was not long before Saratoga Chips could be found in restaurants up and down the East Coast. Soon they became known as potato chips. (www.originalsaratogachips.com)

While it seems like some chip companies are perfectly content with simply sitting back and providing the masses with their edible salty snacks, other chip companies continually strive to deliver their fans with even better versions of their amazing products.  Not only did Saratoga Chips invent America’s First Kettle Chip in 1853, but in the summer of 2014 (some 150 years later!!) the company has decided to only use Himalayan Pink Salt on all six of their chip flavors. As far as we know this is an industry first!

When it comes to salt & pepper flavored chips on the market today, there are really two different styles, or recipes.  First, there are your purists, or minimalists.  They like to keep it straight, and to the point – typically only four simple ingredients: potatoes, oil, salt and pepper.  The recipe is a classic, but requires flawless execution and the highest quality of ingredients for them to actually taste very good.  But, for one reason or another, this is not the style we find more often than not.  Instead, the majority of salt and pepper flavored chips are much more complex.  You can call it cheating, or you can call it brilliant, but brands such as Saratoga Chips prefer to up the flavor ante, by adding plenty of complimentary background flavors like onion and garlic to enrich the classic salt and pepper combo.  Should we penalize these brands for veering off the classic S&P recipe path?  We say, bring on the additional flavor depth, because we feel like the extra ingredients add dimension and character, and definitely flavor!

We have tried and reviewed a lot of salt and pepper flavored chips over the years, and we must say that this version from Saratoga Chips is a very fine addition to the flavor family.  While they may not necessarily make our all-time Top 5 salt and pepper chips, we are pretty sure that if we extended this list to 10, they would definitely be in the running!

This salt and pepper recipe starts off with potent flavor notes of onion, and the finely cracked peppercorns.  Throw in a dash of garlic, and a good level of salt, and you have a delicious seasoning blend that perfectly compliments Saratoga’s potato chips.  Visually, the chips exhibit a very even distribution of finely cracked pepper, with a few larger peppercorn shell pieces scattered throughout.  We really appreciated how each chip delivered a subtle yet spicy black pepper warmth in the back of our throats.

As great as this salt and pepper seasoning is, the real star is Saratoga’s kettle cooked potato chips.  We really like how the chips appear as though they are going to be very crunchy, as the majority of kettle cooked chips are, but instead they are much more crispy than crunchy.  A light and crispy crunch that is full flavored without hurting our teeth!  And despite all of the seasoning covering these chips we could still taste the real potato flavor.  Plain and simple, these are fantastic chips that we could devour every day.

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips provided to Chip Review by Saratoga Specialties Company for review

The Original Saratoga Chips Official Website

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RATING: Old Dutch – Dill Pickle Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©-3/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

Old Dutch Dill Pickle

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REVIEW: Deep River Snacks – Peach Habanero Tortilla Chips

Rating: ©©©©-3/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

Deep River Snacks - Peach Habanero Tortilla ChipsDeep River Snacks Peach Habanero Tortilla Chips -

In Your Face Flavor!?  Yep!

In Our Mouth Flavor!!  Triple-double yes!

We must admit, these chips really snuck up on us.  We were simply minding our own business, methodically scanning the snack shelves of our local grocery store and all of a sudden – wham! A sharp, eye catching, rich black and electric green bag with the words Deep River Snacks, and more importantly, Peach Habanero!  Where the heck did these come from?!  Why have we not heard of these before right now?!?  What are we doing asking all of these questions instead of digging into these exciting new chips!?!

Initial reaction: sweet, salty, sour, tangy and very spicy!  Pretty much nailed every single taste bud we’ve got!  These chips have got it all.  A real funky whirlwind of flavors, and yet able to come together very cohesively.  The peach habanero seasoning really, really reminds us of Hawaiian’s Mango Habanero kettle chips; in that at first we thought the chips were on the verge of being too cloyingly sweet, but then our taste buds settled in and accepted the sweet peach flavor.  Some people may be turned off by just how intensely sweet these chips are at first, but if they hang in there for just a couple chips more they should soon experience the harmonious deliciousness that these chips deliver!

Once the sweet peach nectar powder subdues, the tangy vinegar notes, and fruity, floral notes of the habanero appear.  Each complimenting the sweet stone fruit, while also helping to subdue and cut through some of the sweetness.  The seasoning works very well with the corn tortilla chips.  On the tail end is where the heat finally comes in.  And we are talking about some real heat here.  Maybe not quite the heat of some other habanero flavored chips but still anytime you have real habanero powder listed in among your ingredients, you know they are going to be spicy!!  The best part of it was, unlike with most snacks claiming to be habanero flavored, we could actually taste the habanero chile, even through all that heat.

The tortilla chips themselves are pretty good.  Light and crunchy, with a rustic corn flavor.  They sort of remind us of Doritos, except a bit heavier.  Very easy to crunch through a whole bunch of them a short amount of time!

Overall, these are fabulous, fun, unique and tasty! We feel like it is our chip duty to also mention that these chips are much, much better than Lay’s current delve into the fruit flavored chip realm with their Mango Salsa potato chips (much, much better).  It’s funny, many of these unique flavored chips don’t seem like they should work, and many don’t end up working, but some brands seem to have that secret recipe and we are all better for it!!

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips provided to Chip Review by Deep River Snacks for review

Deep River Snacks Official Website

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