Chip Review’s Honorable Mentions – 2015

25 Chips to Christmas – 11 Honorable Mentions

591-Christmas-gift-tree-vector

These chips nearly made our Top 25 of the Year, and deserve some recognition too!! (in alphabetical order)

Beanfields - Nacho
“These are really good!  Not – really good for a bean and rice chip – sorta good.  NO!  Really good for any type of nacho cheese flavored chip!”

“The onion presence is sweet and pungent, without being too pronounced.  The cool, sour cream is really enhanced with a good touch of tangy cheese.  All of the flavors work harmoniously, and surprisingly enough, do not overwhelm Cobs delicious popcorn one little bit.”

D'vour - Coconut Sea Salt

D’vour Tortilla Chips made with Real Coconut – Sea Salt

“And some of us at Chip Review were even excited to try the chips with nachos; melting a whole bunch of cheese all over them and seeing how the sweet, salty and cheesy combo works out.”

Herr's - Peppered Bacon

Herr’s – Peppered Bacon Potato Chips

“Seems like no matter how many times we try another poorly executed bacon flavored snack, we still get excited for the next one!!”

International Popcorn - Everything BagelInternational Popcorn - Cheddar Ranch

International Popcorn – Everything Bagel Popcorn

“Has popcorn replaced chips as the international favorite salty snack?!?  Well, we’re not sure if popcorn is as popular around the rest of the world but right now, here in the U.S.A. popcorn is booming!!”
Popsalot - Honolulu Aloha

Popsalot – Honolulu Aloha

“The few moments when we actually landed a mix of both the caramel corn and the macadamia nuts were, lights-out fantastic.  Those precious, porcelain, roasted half nuggets of unctuously rich macadamia nuts were amazing! WOW!”

Pringles - Wasabi & Soy SaucePringles - Salted Caramel

Pringles – Exclusive Flavor Wasabi & Soy Sauce

Pringles Limited Time Only! – Salted Caramel

“Turns out that it has been nearly 3 months since we reviewed any new Pringles!  THREE MONTHS!  While three months may not seem like that long of time to many of you, let us just tell you that in Pringles’ months we’re talking about a very long time between new reviews!!”

Snacks 101 - Less Mess White Cheddar Popcorn

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

“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.”

Trader Joe's - Partially Popped Popcorn ...with Butter & Sea Salt!

Trader Joe’s – Partially Popped Popcorn …with Butter & Sea Salt!

“Trader Joe’s Triple P embodies a real strong corn essence, and flavor.  They do in fact look like those partially popped kernels you find at the bottom of the popcorn bag or bowl, except that they don’t break your teeth when you chomp down on them.”

Ziggys - Kickin Buffalo Wing

Ziggy’s Kettle Corn – Kickin’ Buffalo Wing with Himalayan Pink Salt

“Great combination of tangy, sweet, salty, zippy, spicy, zingy, sour-y, and did we mention spicy-spicy-spicy?!?  Seriously, lots of heat – WHOA!!”

** And here are 5 additional dishonorable mentions that we hope to never mention again… **

(in alphabetical order)

Old Dutch - Cheddar Bacon Popcorn

Old Dutch – Cheddar Bacon Popcorn

“First, the bacon aspect was not reminiscent of bacon but rather of standing in front of a camp fire.  Smoke, and smoke alone, does not make popcorn taste like bacon.”

Old Dutch Ripples Appetizers - Chicken Artichoke Flatbread

Old Dutch Ripples Appetizers On The Go – Chicken Artichoke Flatbread

“But, as for the taste – uhhhh…. we do not taste any chicken, artichoke or flatbread (not that we were expecting to actually taste the flatbread).”

Pop! - White Truffle Bliss

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn – Extravagant White Truffle Bliss Popcorn

“But, maybe it’s difficult to capture and accurately deliver the deliciously aromatic flavors of truffle onto popcorn?  Nope, we’ve tasted and reviewed a handful of truffle flavored snacks (predominantly popcorn), and most of them have actually been lip-smacking!”

Snyder's of Hanover - Raspberry Creme Sweet Pretzel Sandwiches

Snyder’s of Hanover – Raspberry Creme Sweet Pretzel Sandwiches

“Plain and simple these pretzel sandwiches are a sweet dessert treat that should not be included anywhere among salty snack section for any rhyme or reason.  These belong on the shelf next to cookies!”

Trader Joe's - Popcorn in a Pickle

Trader Joe’s – Popcorn in a Pickle

“Popcorn in a Pickle is not only not better than Trader Joe’s Baconesque, but it makes Joe’s cheddar bacon popcorn seem lip-smacking in comparison.”

**Chip Review’s Top 25 list of the Year consists of chips that we tasted and reviewed during the 2015 calendar year for the first time.  The chips are not necessarily new to the industry, but they were new to Chip Review in 2015!

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RATING: Pop! Gourmet Popcorn – Rogue Blue Popcorn

Rating: ©©-3/4 chips  (tolerable)

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn - Rogue Blue

We love bleu cheese.  And, we’re even pretty sure that we have have tried Rogue Creamery’s Blue Cheese at some point in the past.  Bravo! to Pop! for giving this flavor a real shot!  We were very excited to try this popcorn, but unfortunately in the end it just did not succeed.  The flavor came very close to delivering that pugent-funky bleu cheese flavor, but really fell short of providing any of that deliciously rich and fatty cheese essence.

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

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Pop! Gourmet Popcorn – Extravagant White Truffle Bliss Popcorn

Rating: ©-1/2 chips  (return to sender)

Pop! - White Truffle BlissComplete and utter disappointment!

Far too subtle, practically unrecognizable or indistinguishable, white truffle flavor!  But, maybe it’s difficult to capture and accurately deliver the deliciously aromatic flavors of truffle onto popcorn?  Nope, we’ve tasted and reviewed a handful of truffle flavored snacks (predominantly popcorn), and most of them have actually been lip-smacking!

We are so surprised with the verdict on this one.  We have tried other Pop! Gourmet Popcorn and they have been stellar!  So, how this one turned out so bad we don’t really understand!  The pungent truffle aroma is present, and wafts into the air upon opening the bag but as soon as we tossed a handful of popcorn into our mouths everything delicious about popcorn and truffle disappears!  The popcorn is bogged down with too much oil, with a sort of stale, lack-luster, soft crunch!  No actual truffle flavor, and really no flavor of any kind – not even salt.  We’re really starting to wonder if we were eating popcorn that had far exceeded its expiration date?!  And to be truthfully honest, we don’t know for sure!  We may have been.  If that is the case, we should probably give this popcorn another shot, but until then this is our stance on Pop! Gourmet Popcorn White Truffle Bliss!

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

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Fire Corn – Jalapeño Popcorn

**Updated 3/8/2015

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

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 had to change to an “A” list rating.  We ended on the perfect bite!  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…and upon further examination, and deliberation, we are sure that Fire Corn is “A” list!

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 (we suspect afterwards)?  In our opinion it seems like the jalapeno pieces are slightly overcooked, but that is just a personal preference.  The slices deliver a smoky, burnt chile flavor; masking some of the fresh and raw jalapeno flavors, but at the same time complimenting them.  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!  “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!  In the meantime, why not take a look at Chip Review’s Top 5 Popcorn of All-Time and see who made the cut!

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

Chip Review’s Honorable Mentions – 2014

25 Chips to Christmas Honorable Mentions

25 Chips to Christmas 2014

These chips nearly made our Top 25 of the Year, and deserve some recognition too!!

(honorable mentions, in no particular order)

Archer Farms - Habanero Ranch

Archer Farms – Habanero Ranch Homestyle Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips

“First wave of flavors includes an impressively rich and creamy, sour, buttermilk flavor.   Then a wave of powerful garlic and onion!  And we do mean POWER. FULL!”

Jay's - Nacho Rings

Jay’s – Nacho Rings

“After popping one Nacho Ring into our mouths we immediately knew what we were really dealing with there.  You can’t fool us, Jay’s Nacho Rings are the amazing hybrid offspring of a Bugle and a cheese puff!”

De-lish-us - Ripple Potato Chips

De-lish-us – Ripple Potato Chips

De-lish-us just seems to consistently put out products that we are impressed with.  Simple, and straightforward.  Nothing flashy or over the top.  Simply good old, quality products!”

chipz Happen - Spice-z Garlic Parmesanchipz Happen - Cinnful Sweet Treat

chipz Happen – Spice-Z Parmesan Garlic Gourmet Tortilla Chipz

chipz Happen – Cinnful Sweet Heat Gourmet Tortilla Chipz

“First and foremost, is that these gourmet tortilla chips taste real.  They taste homemade.  In fact, they trigger tasty memories of those delicious, freshly fried, mom and pop’s Mexican restaurant tortilla chips that find their way to the table as soon as you are seated.”

Deano's Jalapenos - Ranch Jalapeno Chips

Deano’s Jalapenos – Ranch Jalapeno Chips

“These chips are not for spicy food amateurs, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!!  In fact, if we are being honest here, Deano’s Jalapeno Chips are very close to being too spicy for even us to enjoy!”

Dirty - Sour Cream & Onion

“Dirty” – Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips

“Apparently, we are not the only ones who have wondered why these chips are called “Dirty”?  According to “Dirty’s” website: “The name “Dirty” comes from the process we used to prepare our chips. The potato slices are not washed, leaving more of the potato flavor….”

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn - Huy Fong's Sriracha

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn & Huy Fong Foods – The Original Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce 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.”

The Better Chip - Chipotle

The Better Chip – Chipotle & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

“A fine textbook definition of the saying: less is more.  The Better Chip keeps it simple, and merely conveys chipotle essence to the smoky chile maximus!”

Cosmos - Crushed Sea Salt Vinegar & Black Pepper Puff Corn

Cosmos Creations – Crushed Sea Salt Vinegar with Pepper Premium Puffed Corn

“We’ve tried a lot of different types of puffed corn in our time.  We’ve crunched our way through corn puffs, puffers, crunchies, kurls, doodles, dittos, and nuggets; and in the end, they are all sort of the same corn-y snacks.”

Pringles - Sriracha Asian Chili Sauce

Pringles – Sriracha Asian Chili Sauce

“Zippy and spicy, tongue tingling, Thai chili flavor, combined with a very generous dosage of powerful garlic, and rounded out with a heavy splash of nose burning vinegar!  These are tasty, tasty potato crisps.”

**Chip Review’s Top 25 list of the Year consists of chips that we tasted and reviewed during the 2014 calendar year for the first time.  The chips are not necessarily new to the industry, but they were new to Chip Review in 2014!

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

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list