REVIEW: Chef’s Shoppe – Sriracha Popcorn

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Chef's Shoppe - Sriracha PopcornWe will round out our recent barrage of popcorn reviews (sorry to those of you who were actually expecting reviews of chips at a site called Chip Review….) with a review of Chef’s Shoppe Sriracha Popcorn.  Far and away, the best of the crunchy popcorn bunch!  In fact, this popcorn may just be some of the best popcorn we have ever tasted, anywhere!

We often wonder how many deliciously different salty snacks there are out there that the majority of us will never ever get the chance to try?  Those smaller local companies that only distribute in the surrounding area, or the little mom and pop stores that specialize in one specific type of snack, and unless you happen to travel to this specific town or region of the country you may never ever know of the delicacies that await you there.  Luckily for Chip Review we have a lot of friends and family out there that are always on the lookout for local snacks wherever they may be visiting.

The most recent example of this type of scenario took place a little while ago.  One of us from Chip Review walked into the office one morning and there sitting on our desk was a small collection of different flavored popcorn from some company called Chef’s Shoppe.  The flavors ranged from dill pickle to pizza to bacon cheddar to this Sriracha.

The Chef’s Shoppe is a Gourmet Kitchen Store (aka specialty cooking and food store) located in Edwardsville, Illinois (near St. Louis).  Luckily for all of us Chef’s Shoppe sells more than specialty kitchen tools and such.  They also offer more than seventy different flavors of popcorn.  According to the Chef Shoppe’s website:

In May 2012 the Chef’s Shoppe expanded again, taking over the 2,500 square foot space adjacent to the existing business and adding popcorn.  But they didn’t start small – offering over 70 flavors of popcorn every day, the Chef’s Shoppe entered the popcorn scene in a big way. Scott, having officially retired after 32 years with AT&T the year before, is the head “popologist”.  With the help of his merry band of popping and coating specialists they turn out hundreds of gallons of popcorn every week.  ALL are made fresh in house – ALL are available to taste before you buy – ALL are so delicious that picking just one is nearly impossible.

Well, the Chef’s Shoppe seems like our sort of place, and we hope the fine people of Edwardsville, and even St. Louis, continue to embrace and support it for a very long time to come.

Chef’s Shoppe popcorn is on the larger side of the popcorn spectrum, with very round, and softer-crunch kernels.  We would describe them as having a lot of popcorn meat, or body to them, that provides a great toothsome popcorn chew.  As for the Sriracha flavoring – WOWSERS!! Amazing, would be an understatement!  Easily the best Sriracha flavored snack of any type that we have ever tried.  We think this is due to a couple of delicious differences.  Similar to the Chef’s Shoppe’s beer flavored popcorn that we reviewed (and loved) a little while back, we were surprised to discover that this popcorn was not only Sriracha flavored, but mingling with some tangy cheese as well!  As popular as the Sriracha flavor has become lately we were really surprised to find that none of the other snacks we had reviewed had ever paired it with cheese…?  Well, we are here to tell you that the combination is delicious!  The cheese adds creamy and funky and salty layers to the spicy Thai chile notes.  the other difference with the Chef’s Shoppe’s Sriracha seasoning is something we can’t quite pinpoint?!  There is some unique ingredient, adding a background layer that is unlike any seasoning we have tasted before.  It is also as if the seasoning has been fermented a little, or something unique like fish sauce, or malt, has been added.  Just an extra layer of deliciously funky flavor depth.  Well, whatever it is, it compliments the spicy, garlic and Thai Chile seasoning amazingly!!  And the entire combination comes together to create some moist, rich, salty, funky, spicy, FANTASTIC POPCORN!!!  So fantastic that it has made our Top 5 Popcorn of All-Time!

In our review of Chef’s Shoppe’s Beer Popcorn we mentioned that if you ever find yourself traveling to, or through, Edwardsville Illinois, do yourself a favor and go try a couple, or fifty, different popcorn flavors from their amazing selection.  Well, now we would take that statement back and simply tell you that no matter where you are traveling to, or where you call your home, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to Edwardsville, Illinois, and go to Chef’s Shoppe for some of the best popcorn you will ever try!! Chef’s Shoppe is a hidden popcorn gem!  You’ve probably heard of destination dining before, but we may have stumbled onto something new here – Destination Snacking!!

As always, these are our thoughts. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know.

Popcorn provided to Chip Review by J & V for review

Chef’s Shoppe Official Website

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REVIEW: International Popcorn – Everything Bagel Popcorn

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

International Popcorn - Everything BagelIs popcorn the new universally adored crunchy go-to?!  Has it replaced chips or crisps as the language of snacks?!  If so, then International Popcorn makes total sense, and if not, well…at least we get to eat some more popcorn!

See, we told you that it was going to be popcorn crazy around here for a while, and we weren’t kiddin’!!!  We have so many different bags of popcorn to try and review!  It ridicu-POP-olis!!  Not that we are complaining in any way, shape or form, because we do love popcorn, and someone’s got to do it!

What is your favorite bagel flavor or type?  If you are like us, and you answer that question with Everything of course, then we like your style, and we’re fairly certain that you would really like this popcorn!  First and foremost, the seasoning is SPOT ON!!  If we had approached this popcorn with a blind eye, we still could have identified the flavor without a doubt, in not time at all.  Poppy seeds?  Check.  Sesame seeds?  Check.  Onion, garlic and salt??  Check – check – check!  To say that the flavor combination works would be silly as this traditional bagel flavor has been pleasing bagel lovers like us for many a year!  But, the real question is does this seasoning mix mingle well with popcorn?  We are very pleased to report that for the most part, YES IT DOES!!

International Popcorn has created a new salty snack combo that we have never tasted before.  Their popcorn is light and crispy, and yet full-bodied and toothsome.  The popcorn provides a perfect canvas to support and highlight the bold seasoning combination.  The one complaint that some of our tasters made mention of was that they felt like the popcorn was missing some aspect of richness, or creaminess, and that it came off a touch dry.  Other tasters felt like the coconut oil utilized by International Popcorn more than satisfied their fatty mouth feel craving.  Either way you crunch it, all tasters agreed that the seasoning was accurate, and worked with well with the popcorn.  So, if you happen to be looking for a healthier alternative to your calorie loaded everything bagel then help yourself to some International Popcorn!

As always, these are our thoughts. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know.

Popcorn provided to Chip Review by International Popcorn for review

International Popcorn Official Website

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REVIEW: SexyPop Popcorn – Pineapple Habanero

Rating: ©-3/4 chips  (return to sender)

SexyPop - Pineapple HabaneroWe’ve reviewed a handful of SexyPop flavors over the past couple of years, and we still do not know what exactly SexyPop is going for with their name? Is popcorn inherently sexy in and of itself?  No.  Does anyone out there really think popcorn is sexy??  We don’t think so.  Secondly, and we have actually never commented on this before, but what is up with the spiral symbol on the bag…?  Is it just there for decoration, or does it have a deeper meaning?  Does SexyPop want us to get in touch with our inner selves?  Who knows?!?  We certainly do not know the answers to these questions, and regardless of whether or not we did, in our opinion both topics simply distract away from the popcorn itself!  And shouldn’t it be about the popcorn?!

The more we pay attention to it, the more we realize that the habanero chile is a very versatile pepper.  It can be paired with so many different ingredients.  More often than not it would be fruits such as mango, peach, and lime, but this list also includes everything from bacon to cucumber to parmesan! To top it all off, it seems like more often than not the combinations are very delicious!  Which might explain why the habanero is our most favorite chile pepper of all time!!  Which may also explain why we were so disappointed with this popcorn from SexyPop!!

First of all, SexyPop uses butterfly style popcorn.  Light, fresh and crispy kernels that we found to be dry and practically devoid of any richness.  The popcorn does deliver a good level sweetness, but we can’t necessarily say that we taste any of those tart, tropical, pineapple notes.  To make matters worse, we do not taste any salt anywhere, which is most definitely needed to help counter some of the sweetness.  To top it all off, and what is probably the most disappointing was that we do not taste any hananero chile at all!  None!  Nada!  Plus, we certainly do not get very much, if any, of the legendarily, powerful habanero heat!  Only after we had consumed many handfuls did the backs of our throats feel a little tickle!

In the end, we were just so disappointed with SexyPop’s Pineapple Habanero Popcorn.  We have enjoyed so many great habanero snacks that we can very easily recognize one that does not make the cut!  We admit, we had high expectations for this popcorn because we love us some habanero anything, so we think our assessment is fair, but like anything others may disagree.  Let us know what you think?

As always, these are our thoughts. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know.

Popcorn provided to Chip Review by SexyPop for review

SexyPop Official Website

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REVIEW: Snacks 101 – The First Baked Popcorn – Less Mess White Cheddar

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

Snacks 101 - Less Mess White Cheddar PopcornAlright Chip Review readers, get ready for an onslaught of popcorn reviews coming your way real soon.  Seriously, we have found or been given so, so much more popcorn this year than any other year prior!  Is popcorn the new IT – Snack?!?  We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again, maybe we should change our name to Popcorn Review?!  But, Popcorn Review just doesn’t have a good ring to it, does it?  Four syllables just seems like one too many.  We could shorten it to Pop Review, but then people may think we review sodas?!  Nope, we are going to stick with what works, and remain Chip Review until there are no more chips to review (or popcorn for that matter!).

Apparently, Snacks 101 has created “The First Baked Popcorn”….  Are they messing with us?  Can this be right?  Well, we can’t find any evidence to dispute them so let’s roll with it.  Along with that, Snacks 101 sure likes to cram a lot of verbiage onto their shiny silver bags.  We didn’t exactly keep count but we’re pretty sure that any adjective that can be used to describe, or support, or emphasize popcorn taste and health benefits is located somewhere on this eye-catching bag!

Could we tell any difference between this baked popcorn and other more conventionally cooked popcorns?  No, not really at all.  That being said, Snacks 101 has put out some pretty darn tasty white cheddar flavored popcorn!  Their all natural, non-GMO popcorn kernels are definitely on the smaller end of the spectrum, with a simple, popcorn-ful essence to them.  They sort of remind us of the popcorn that dad used to make at the hunting shack on top of the stove, except that wasn’t baked, and wasn’t white cheddar, and probably wasn’t non-GMO…!!  The white cheddar seasoning has a light cheesy tang to it, with a good level of salt, and certainly does the flavor trick, without ever overwhelming the popcorn.

Snack lesson 101, this is some really tasty baked white cheddar cheese popcorn.  Despite being very simple in ingredients and execution, the popcorn is very satisfying in our bellies!  Truth be told, we’re not really sure how much healthier this baked popcorn is than “regular” popcorn, because if flavor or taste is typically any indication of fat content, and overall satisfaction, then Snacks 101’s popcorn has got to still be bringing the fat in some rich and filling way!

As always, these are our thoughts. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know.

Popcorn discovered at Jewell Osco; Westchester, Illinois

Cobs Popcorn Official Website

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REVIEW: Nick’s Shady Anniversary Edition – Hot Sauce Corn Chips

Rating: ©©©© chips  (lip-smacking)

Nick's - Hot Sauce Corn ChipsMay we have your attention please?
May we have your attention please?
Will the real Slim Shady Hot Sauce Corn chips please stand up?
We repeat, will the real Slim Shady Hot Sauce Corn Chips please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here!!

What happens when a local Detroit chip company and a local Detroit guy – gone worldwide rap superstar come together to create some spicy hot sauce corn chips?  Well, in our opinion, good things!

We were very surprised as we looked back through our reviews for spicy corn chips to discover that we have only tried two others along our chip reviewing journeys.  And it is fair to say that Nick’s Hot Sauce Corn Chips are most definitely better than these or these – meaning that they are the BEST of the small spicy corn chip group that we have tried so far.

These corn chips may not be for everyone, especially anyone out there who can’t stand the heat, or is opposed to loads of seasoning or flavor!  The dark red seasoning liberally coats each chip, delivering a pretty harsh, and spicy seasoning blend.  Powerful notes of zingy vinegar tangy-ness swirl in the background.  A little garlic, little onion, and even a touch of sweetness round everything out.  It is fair to say that there is not very much natural about this seasoning!  Did we mention that these are spicy?  Because they really, really, really are spicy! They build up to quite a tremendous heat that resonates in the mouth for some time!

The corn chips themselves have a firm and strong crunch, with a little dense chew.  Despite all of the powerful seasoning coating the chips, we could still taste some of corn chip flavor.  Other than that pretty standard shape and size.

While Nick’s Hot Sauce Corn Chips may be lacking some of the depth of flavor that Nick’s Hot Sauce Cheese Curls had (likely due to the lack of any cheese component), they are still a most welcome addition to the spicy corn chip family!

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 Nick’s Chips for review

Nick’s Chips Official Website

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RATING: Good Health Natural Foods – Mickey Shaped Veggie Chips

Rating: ©©©-1/2 chips  (notable)

Good Health - Mickey

Do you have kids?

Then your kids will want these!  They may even need them!!

Are veggie chips really a healthier alternative to your everyday chip snacking?  Are any of the actual vegetable nutrients found in these chips??  Regardless, these do not turn your kids’ fingers bright orange which is a win for everyone!!

Discovered at Target; Willowbrook, Illinois

Good Health Natural Foods Official Website

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