REVIEW: Fire Corn – Jalapeño Popcorn

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

Fire Corn - Jalapeno PopcornWe have been going back and forth, and forth and back, for days now on whether or not Fire Corn was deserved of our coveted 5-chip “A” list rating.  One day we’d be pretty sure that this was the best popcorn we had ever tasted, the next day we weren’t as impressed, and in the end we just could not commit to an “A” list rating.  A 5-chip rating exemplifies perfection in our opinion, and no matter how close a salty snack may actually get to that marker, it will not be allotted it unless we are 100% certain that it fully deserves it…

All that being said, a four and three-quarter rating from Chip Review is maximum lip-smacking, and nothing to scoff at.  Fire Corn is easily the best popcorn that we have tried this year, and in fact among the best popcorn we have ever tried period!  Greg “B.A.” Anders Fire Corn (Real Jalapeno Popcorn) is a what we would like to refer to as a true artisan product.  What elevates this popcorn to that amazing handcrafted level is the use of only a few simple ingredients, executed tremendously, and frankly the amazing decision to combine real jalapeno slices and popcorn!

We love this sort of thing, and thought we should share with you a little bit of Greg “B.A.” Anders Fire Corn Story:

Being a fighter pilot takes extreme focus and discipline. Hours are spent studying execution and strategy. On every flight, a pilot pushes himself and his aircraft to the very limits.  One of the great traditions of fighter pilots is gathering after training flights to unwind and debrief over brews and jalapeño popcorn called Fire Corn. It’s a spicy mix of fiery popcorn and real jalapeño slices that are slow-fired to a satisfying crisp.  As a Lt-Colonel retired from the Air Force, it’s a tradition I’ve enjoyed for years. And now it’s a tradition I want to share with you.  We hand-craft Fire Corn in small batches that stay true to the fighter pilot original recipe: jalepeños, popcorn and a dash of salt. Just three ingredients mixed to a spicy perfection. Have it for the game, BBQs, or wherever good times await…

Is Greg for real?  We’re guessing that you just can’t make this stuff up, but seriously, this sort of story is hard to believe, and seems too good to be real!  Then again, this delicious popcorn tradition had to spawn from somewhere, and who better to create such a strategically delicious and daring combination than fighter pilots!

Fire Corn’s Real Jalapeno Popcorn delivers that small batch , deliciously rustic, slightly oil laden scent and flavor, with the perfect touch of salt – kind of popcorn.  Smaller, light and crispy, white, butterfly style popcorn with a fresh crunch.  You know what we are talking about?  That classic popcorn that dad, or grandpa, used to make at the hunting shack in the cast iron pot over the wood burning fireplace!  Old-school!  Only, dad never used to add real slices of jalapeno to spice up the mix!!

Although the bag of popcorn did not include too many slices of the crispy jalapeno “chips”, maybe a little more than a dozen, the amount did more than its job to add a good level of heat, flavor, and textural difference to the popcorn.  The jalapeno chips reminded us a lot of Deano’s Jalapenos, and we’re not sure if the slices of jalapeno are added to the oil with the popcorn, and cooked at the same time, or if they are crisped up on their own, and added afterwards?  In our opinion it seems like the jalapeno pieces are slightly overcooked, delivering a bit more of that burnt chile flavor than we would have liked whenever we ended up landing a whole jalapeno chip in our handful.  Also, we should probably point out that the jalapeno slices, on their own, are quite spicy!  They will put a hurt on your mouth!  What we really loved about the jalapeno chips were the way that many of them had broken into little pieces, or even powder like, and gradually seasoned the popcorn with just the right amount of flavor and heat.  We loved those perfect blissful handfuls of just the right ratio of jalapeno and popcorn!  Those handfuls, they were “A” list perfect!!

Can we also just point out the packaging for one second.  Although being on the smaller side, as most high quality artisan products usually seem to be, we simply like the glossy, bold, black, streamlined packaging.  It is very eye catching!

In the end, Fire Corn is a truly amazing product that we are very happy to have tasted, and probably better for having done so!  We suggest anyone who loves popcorn, or jalapenos, or spicy snacks, or all three of those things, go out there and find this stuff!  And, we don’t want to reveal too much, but Fire Corn also has a white cheddar variation of their jalapeno popcorn, and it may just be even better than the original!  We will confirm this with you later!

P.S. – on a side note, what do we think the “B.A.” abbreviation portion of Greg Anders name stands for…?  We have a guess or two, but we’re not really sure.  Should we know?  Greg, are you out there, might you tell us?!  Can you even tell us?

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

Popcorn provided to Chip Review by Fire Corn Popcorn for review

Fire Corn Popcorn Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Late July – Nacho Chipotle Clasico Tortilla Chips

Rating: ©©© chips  (notable)

Late July - Nacho ChipotleSo, we ask you, who’s chipotle is it exactly if it is not yours?  Nacho, get it? As in nacho = not your!  Nacho Chipotle!!  Please continue reading, once you have fully composed yourself!  And please note that if you do buy a bag of these chips that they are in fact yours, and you may enjoy them at your own leisure.

A few weeks ago we reviewed Late July’s new Bacon Habanero Tortilla Chips (another flavor from the trio of Taco Truck Inspired tortilla chips from Late July, leaving only Jalapeno Lime left for us to review).  Overall, we thought the Bacon Habanero chips were lip-smacking, and definitely permeating profusely with a pronounced porky presence, but they were also lacking a bit in any true habanero chile presence! (Remember that statement, because apparently it is a trend among the taco truck inspired tortilla chips).

Last year Doritos released their own  JACKED Spicy Street Taco (the eventual winners of the Bold Test Flavor Experience), and we must say that we quite like this trend of tasty taco inspired flavors!  We can only hope that more brands hop on the taco-band(truck)wagon, and we start seeing some flavors like flame grilled skirt steak with chimichurri, or crispy sriracha-lime shrimp!

First, the good.  Late July’s Clasico Tortilla Chips are really fantastic.  Light and crispy, not crunchy, with those lovely little air pockets that give our favorite style of crispy tortilla chips their delicately delicious texture!  Tons of deep corn masa flavor.  These tortilla chips could easily be mistaken texturally for a Doritos tortilla chip in a blind crunch test.  Which is no small feat.  We feel like most other tortilla chip brands steer very clear of that comparison because nobody likes to challenge the big boys, but Late July shows no fear, and creates a very similar light and crispy chip.  The nacho chipotle seasoning itself has a tasty, albeit very subtle, salty cheese seasoning.  We tasted a couple of those other typical nacho flavors like garlic and onion, but beyond that, this seasoning was simply dull!

Alright, now onto the brass tacks, these chips suffer from what we, and we’re guessing our little friend Ms. McStuffins, would call lack-o-spice-atosis!  Maybe Late July is trying to give us much lighter seasoned chip, to keep those sodium levels down, or let the tortilla chips themselves shine.  But, needless to say we were, we are, expecting a lot more flavor with a name like Nacho Chipotle!  We want our tongues to dance and tingle when they lick the chips!  While we can appreciate the health conscientious seasoning gesture, but this is 2015, and we want our seasoned chips to be seasoned heavily!  Of course sometimes a subtle seasoning is suffice, or even preferred, but when we read a flavor name such as Nacho Chipotle we expect all sorts of seasoning!

To top it all off, the seasoning has absolutely no heat!  None.  Seriously!  Wait……  There it is…… No, wait is that it?!  Yep, we’re guessing that the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie tickle in the backs of our throats is what Late July is offering up for any real chipotle chile heat on these chips.  In fact, the ingredient list on the back of the bag confirms our assumption, and assertion, as chipotle is the very last ingredient on the list.  We couldn’t even identify any of the obligatory smokiness that confirms we were eating chipotle.

So, overall we were not thrilled with these chips.  We love the tortilla chips themselves, but the seasoning was much too mild for our taste buds.  We will be sticking with the Bacon Habanero chips, that is unless the Jalapeno Lime chips really surprise us!!  We shall see!

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

Chips discovered at Whole Foods; River Forest, Illinois

Late July Organic Snacks Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Cape Cod – Kettle Cooked Waffle Cut – Barbeque Ranch

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

Cape Cod - BBQ RanchAlright, we’ve been rethinking things a little bit around here regarding waffle cut potato chips.  Up until now most of us at Chip Review have always been an adversary of the uniquely cut chips; more specifically a kettle cooked waffle cut chip.  We’ve said:

“...too much fryable surface area – we get the idea, it’s new, it’s different – and, we appreciate the effort, but give us some crinkle cut any day!  The potato chips’ aerated waffle texture adds a weird kettle cooked super-crunch that is somehow not too dense, and not too hard…

“They are unique, that is certain, and we appreciate that.  However, they feel more like a challenge for our mouths, than something to sit back and enjoy!  The double sliced, criss-cross technique results in more fry-able potato chip surface area, producing an extremely crunchy potato chip.  Imagine thick cut kettle chips gone wild!  We like our teeth, we need our teeth!  If you love crunchy chips, then these may be right up your alley.”

BUT!  As we look back through all of our ratings and reviews for Waffle or Lattice Cut style potato chips, we’ve noticed that the majority of the chips have very good ratings.  Are we waffle cut closet people?!  Maybe we are!  Maybe… that additional surface area that we do not enjoy due to super-crunch, also provides more area for seasoning adhesion – which we love?  We’re guessing, in the end, we are going to have to accept our love-hate relationship with these waffle cut chips.

Barbeque and Ranch.  Do you see that?  Barbeque and ranch together in one bag of chips!  Believe it or not, this combination is extremely rare.  In fact, we could only find one example of ever trying it before, and just like with these chips, we thought they were lip-smacking!  First thing that comes to mind to describe the bbq ranch flavor combo would be TANGY.  Tangy ranch sour cream notes mixed with tangy-sweet tomato and vinegar flavors.  Tangy, tangy, tangy, and delicious!!  The ranch flavor half is what pops off first.  A touch of creamy sour cream, with a dash of those supporting flavors of garlic, onion, red bell pepper, and black pepper.  We really, really love the tangy tartness of this seasoning; which appears to be the result of a combination of sour cream, lactic acid, citric acid and apple cider vinegar.  That’s a whole lot of tangy tongue tingling, if you ask us!  The barbeque seasoning is there too, but does definitely play second fiddle to the ranch.  A sweet and smoky pairing, rests in the background and supports the ranch notes perfectly!!

Plain and simple, the bbq ranch chips taste like both flavors, and the combination of both.  It works!!  It works so well that we think more brands should give it a whirl!  We can hope.

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

Discovered at Jewell Osco; Westchester, Illinois

Cape Cod Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Ocean’s Halo The Seaweed Chip – Texas BBQ

Rating©©© chips  (notable)

Ocean's Halo - Texas BBQYep, that’s right, we’ve decided to jump in and ‘swim against the tide’ again.  We are all about second chances, and figured what do we have to lose by giving Ocean’s Halo newer Texas BBQ flavor a try!  A while back we tasted and reviewed their Korean BBQ flavored chips and well, to put it lightly, we did not love them.

Once again the “fishy” flavor, or more accurately speaking, flavor of the ocean is prominent and unmistakable.  These are seaweed chips, and they taste like seaweed.  So, ask yourself: do you crave or enjoy those flavors of the ocean floor?  If your answer is ‘no’ then these chips may not be for you; but, that being said, even we, who don’t necessarily love those ocean flavors, liked these chips much more than the Korean BBQ ones.

Who would have known that Texas BBQ would mingle more naturally with seaweed than Korean BBQ?!  But, for one reason or another, the potently smoky, smooth tomato, and dash of heat flavor notes compliment the dark-blue-black, hard crisped seaweed chips.  The Ocean’s Halo Texas BBQ seasoning is very savory, and balanced with garlic, smoke, tomato and chile.  We quite enjoyed the seasoning.  Once again, it is a bit difficult to try and taste past the natural seaweed flavor of these chips, but overall everything just worked better this time!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we appreciate brands that try to push the limits.  Brands that give us a healthier snacking alternative, and try very hard to deliver great taste.  As far as we know, these are one of a kind!  And delivering a completely unique chip on the market these days is an impressive feat.  They obviously do use seaweed in their chips, and it is quite amazing just how much sea flavor the chips retain even after the cooking process.  And lastly, seaweed is a plentiful, healthy and underutilized, and we value Ocean’s Halo’s attempt to deliver it to us in a new medium.  Are the chips for everyone, certainly not.  But, we’re guessing that there are plenty of people out there who love them for different reasons, and we’d be willing to say that we love them for their ingenuity and uniqueness!

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 from Ocean’s Halo for review.

Ocean’s Halo Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Diego’s Hot & Spicy – Red Chile Potato Chips

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

Diego's Chips - Red ChileOh Diego!  Just last year you wowed us with your Hot & Spicy Habanero Potato Chips (one of the 25 best chips we tried in 2014!), and this year it looks like you plan to do the same with your Hot & Spicy Red Chile Potato Chips!!

Red chile?  What exactly are these red chiles? Are there actually chiles that are only named red chiles?  We know of a lot of different red chiles, so without specifying what red chiles are being used are we supposed to guess, or assume that it’s a combination!?  Or, are we completely off base, and these Red (hot) Chile (pepper) chips actually taste like our favorite 90’s American rock band, with a sprinkle of Kiedis and a splash of Flea!?!  Let’s hope not!

Fortunately, our wishes were granted, and these chips exude a lot more RICO SUAVE flavors, than sweaty rock music notes!  In fact, these chips are some of the most uniquely flavored that we have tried in a while.  More than rico suave, we would describe these chips as rico SAVORY!  A simple, yet unique combination of smoky chiles, garlic and salt mingle with the potato chips in a way that never oversteps its boundaries. The chile flavor reminds us of chipotle, except with a more savory and spicy essence, and none of those fruity or vegetal notes.  We really appreciate how Diego did not feel the need to include any arbitrary layer of sweetness to help smooth or round out the red chile seasoning.  Like we always (or at least should, if we don’t) – if you are going to go savory, you go all in! Muy rico salado!!

Diego’s potato chips are on the larger, mostly full, semi-thin end of the chip spectrum.  Nice and light, with a crispy crunch to them.  The chips had a few rustic potato skin edges, and a really decent amount of potato flavor, seamlessly complimented by the salty-smoky seasoning blend.  We would say that the chips are potato forward, with a nice kiss of oil, perfectly complimented by the red chile seasoning combo.

Whether or not these Red Chile chips are better than Diego’s Habanero flavor, is a toss up in our books.  Luckily for you, and more luckily for us, we still have Diego’s Fuego in our back pocket to help us break the tasty Diego hot & spicy potato chip showdown!

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 Open Road Snacks for review.

Diego’s Chips Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Doritos JACKED 3D – Jalapeño Pepper Jack

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

Doritos Jacked 3D - Jalapeno Pepper JackOh Doritos! Why?!  Why must everything new always be JACKED!?  Let’s just quit JACKING everything up and around!!  Doritos original 3D were a great snack from the 90’s, that we enjoyed many a time.  Light as air, a soft crisp, with a very thin shell, and hollow in the middle.  The 3Ds were much too easy to pop one by one, over and over, until the bottom of that bag appeared.  They were unlike any other snack-chip available on the market, and well, it appears as though Doritos is going for it again!!  Just look at that glowing Triforce shaped medallion chip to the left!

Editor note, or confession: We here at Chip Review have never been the hugest fans of the JACKED line from Doritos.  They are (in most cases) – BIGGER – BOLDER & THICKER (in the case of these 3D, we can’t verify for certain that they are indeed ‘bigger’ than the originals, nor ‘bolder’ actually…).  Our predominant issue with the JACKED Doritos lies in the tortilla chips themselves.  While the 3D style may not even be considered chips technically, they are once again a variation of the original 3Ds style, and they are much thicker.  The chips just seem too big, and their texture is so thick that they no longer encompass the same light and crispy Doritos 3D texture.  In this case they have also completely changed their shape and structure.  We just do not know what to think here!!

Once again, the big boys have beat us to the review on this one.  Nothing like a new product from Doritos to warrant a visit to Walmart for everyone!  Most reviews are consistently mixed for these, but the one thing everyone seems to be talking about most, is the peculiar shape of the 3Ds! The Impulsive Buy described the 3Ds as “…an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic or an Illuminati symbol, there’s an element of both metaphysical mystery and advanced technology suggested by the pyramidal shape of the new Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack chips.” While Junk Food Guy jokingly asks “Are these some ancient currency, used to buy things from an Mayan vending machine?”  Plain and simple, these are some uniquely weird shaped chips no matter how any of us describe them!  Doritos has wowed us again, and created something new and original.

While technically speaking every Dorito that we have ever tasted up until this point have also been of the three dimensional style (to be honest that’s really the way we like all of our chips!), these 3Ds do provide even more dimension than any of the traditional Doritos, or Doritos JACKED lines!  For a second here let’s focus on what the heck these structures are…  Well, this is 2015, and apparently, no longer will a thin-shelled, puffed, three dimensional Dorito from the past do the necessary snack trick.  Instead, Doritos top engineers have obliterated whatever drawing board they may have ever used, and veered towards ingenious structural JACKED creativity!!  These chips are cool!  These chips are originals!!  These chips are, not really even chips any longer!!!  The 3Ds are much more like Fritos corn chips in both flavor (corn-ful), and texture (dense crunch).  Albeit, corn chips that have been stacked and fused together to form a crunchy corn triangular pendant.  Do we love the shape?  Not really, but our mouths apparently do!  Because no matter how hard we tried, we could not stop ourselves from devouring them, one after one, until there were no more!

As for the Jalapeño Pepper Jack seasoning, we enjoyed it more than the chips themselves, but still didn’t love it.  As other reviews have already pointed out, the initial flavors actually trigger thoughts of Cool Ranch seasoning.  A smooth and creamy cheese powder, with some salty, onion and garlic notes.  An aromatic vegetal presence appears subtly in the back from the addition of jalapeno.  Delivering our necessary dose of vegetables, and a moderate level of heat.  The flavor is balanced, and tasty, but definitely not JACKED!  We wish that we couldn’t even see the golden corn hue of the 3D chips from beneath the amply applied seasoning layer!

Before we leave, can we just mention how heavy this bag is?!  Despite being much smaller in size than a typical large 11 ounce bag of Doritos, the electric lime JACKED 3Ds bag was packed to the brim with the dense and heavy chips!  No one should be complaining about not getting their money’s worth on these ones!

Well, there you have it.  Anyone else out there tried them yet?  Thoughts?  As always we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree.  Let us know.

Chips discovered at Walmart; Countryside, Illinois

Doritos Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Goldbaum’s – Cracked Pepper Multigrain Kale Chips

Rating: ©©©-1/4 chips  (notable)

Goldbaum's - Cracked Pepper Kale ChipsOkay, okay, okay…alright, alright, alright…we get it.  These chips (which are technically crisps according to our standards) are a healthier variation of the majority of the other chips on the market today.  They possess, or provide, all of the necessary and trendy associated bullet points that are required for a chip to be healthy: all natural, baked, multigrain, non-GMO, no preservatives, no trans-fat, no MSG, we assume gluten free?  And, did we mention that these are made of kale?!  That alone must be worth fifty points on the imaginary scale of healthiness!

First and foremost, in the past, we typically appreciate “chips” like these a lot more than we actually enjoy eating them.  We recognize their valiant attempt at giving us a delicious tasting chip, but more so how this chip is a healthier alternative to the other deliciously unhealthy chips.  Goldbaum’s Kale Chips appear to be no different in this case.

If it is alright with you, or even if it isn’t, please bear with us as we switch chips (topics) for a second…. And allow us to explain why we continue to refer to these crisps as “chips”, as we do not feel like these are truly chips, in the classically technical sense of the definition.  In our opinion, Goldbaum’s “chips” much more represent a crisp – a forced together conglomeration of various flours, flakes or ingredients shaped into a circular snack form.  A chip is not pressed together, but rather a slice of something (typically potato) that has been fried.  However, in that same argument, one may argue that based on our thought process, all corn tortilla chips are in fact corn tortilla crisps because they are not simply a slice of a cob of corn but rather a constructed and forced together snack! To that we say rubbish (or, bravo to you for catching that flaw in our theory! Please do not tell anyone, and let’s just continue on as if everyone, you included, is none the wiser!).  Maybe our theory only applies to potatoes…?  Never mind, let’s just continue on.

Can we taste kale in these??  Maybe, we’re not sure.  The crisps themselves are not green at all, which was a bit surprising, but they do have an odd background flavor that we can’t quite pinpoint.  The cracked pepper seasoning is there, and delivers on what it promises.  A slightly spicy flavor that tickles the backs of our throats.  The crisps have a softer crunch, with a slightly toothsome mouth-feel.  We don’t hate these “chips” by any means, but unless our doctor ends up prescribing them to us, we’re fairly certain that we will be sticking with the plenty of other, fatty-delicious cracked pepper chips out there on the market today!!

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

Stix provided to Chip Review by Goldbaum’s for review

Goldbaum’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© - return to sender

©© - tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list