REVIEW: Paqui Tortilla Chips – The One Chip Challenge – Carolina Reaper Madness

Rating: ©©©©© chips (“A” list)

paqui-carolina-reaperThere’s no turning back once you enter Homemade Hell.

— Inside: One Deadly Chip —

The reaper is waiting.  Any last words?

IT’S DAMN HOT.

#onechipchallange

We could go on, and on, referencing Paqui’s quippy packaging slogans, but all we really want to do is say:

Bravo Paqui.  Bravo.

We don’t normally show you more than a single picture from the front of the bag, but we’re feeling like this packaging warrants a couple more shots.

paqui-carolina2paqui-carolina3

Details (“warnings”) from the back of the coffin, and the single Fear the Reaper chip bag from inside.

In all seriousness, Paqui’s new One Chip Challenge may just go down in history as the single greatest chip marketing promotion that we have ever encountered!  The videos posted all over the internet of people attempting the One Chip Challenge, combined with Paqui’s absolutely, freakishly, fantastic packaging, had us fearing these chips even prior to tasting them.

Quick backstory on Chip Review and Paqui. We reached out to Paqui Tortilla Chips over three years ago about reviewing their small-ish line of chips.  After a few weeks of back and forth, Doug finally got a sample box out to us.  If you have ever checked out our 25 Chips to Christmas then needless to say that we were WOWED by the amazing quality of Paqui’s Grilled Habanero flavored tortilla chips.  Not just for their spot on attention to flavor detail but also for their willingness to really push the heat level to somewhere we had never tasted before.

Later that year, around Halloween time, Paqui reached out to us about being the first to taste, and review, their Limited Edition Haunted Ghost Pepper flavored tortilla chips.  Once again, if you have ever checked out our 25 Chips to Christmas, then you know that we were wowed by these as well.  Once again, Paqui pushed the heat to a level we had never before tasted on chips.

Fast forward to today: Paqui Tortilla Chips – The One Chip Challenge – Carolina Reaper Madness.  Lets break these chips, hold on, sorry, this chip experience down for you.

Truth be told, we typically start out by licking a chip.  We like to get a taste of the seasoning on its own.  This time was no different.  Lick 1 – wow, really delicious.  And, yeah, that’s pretty spicy.  One more lick – yep, these are very delicious.  Another amazing seasoning blend by Paqui.  Fruity, smoky, floral chile notes…..

Hold on now, wait a second…..

Oh yeah, there it is…..

Oh……

OMG!!!!!!! HOLY HELL!! F&$^(#F!!!!

Yep, that’s right, Paqui brought the heat once again!  It takes a little while to really hit you, but then once it does, you can expect some compounding, persistent, PAIN!  The tongue was actually throbbing. Two glasses of milk, and about ten minutes later and the heat practically disappeared.  We survived.

We are calling these chip, “A” list – perfect, not because they are our most favorite chips, or even that we would want to taste another one, but because they live up to everything they promise, and everything we expect from Paqui.  Without a doubt, the spiciest chips of all-time!

Bravo Paqui.  Bravo.

As always, these are our thoughts, agree or disagree, let us know.

Chip provided to Chip Review by JK, for review, plus to torture us….

Paqui Tortilla Chips Official Website

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REVIEW: Alaska Chip Company – Katmai Volcano Jalapeño Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Alaska Chip - Volcano JalapenoJust as we were beginning to believe that the Alaska Chip Company made much better popcorn than it did actual chips, along comes these amazing Katmai Volcano Jalapeño flavored gourmet kettle cooked potato chips!

So, what exactly is Katmai Volcano?  According to the world wide web’s technical gobbledygook, Mount Katmai is one of five vents encircling the Novarupta volcano, source of the VEI 6 eruption and associated voluminous pyroclastic flows in 1912…..  Um, yeah, we’re just going to go ahead and say that the Mount Katmai Volcano is the namesake to easily the most deliciously spicy jalapeño flavored potato chips that have ever erupted our taste buds from the great state of Alaska!

What Alaska Chip Company delivers for jalapeño flavor is most certainly a deliciously unique rendition.  An ingredient combination that had us saying HUH? WHOA. WOW! from the very get go!  Sour, and tangy, and pickle-y, and of course the usual spicy, and vegetal.  This creative jalapeño flavor variation is the result of garlic, onion, vinegar, citric acid and yes, lemon juice – Boom!  Heck, A.C. Co. even throws in some parsley just to class the chips up a little bit!

The kettle cooked potato chips themselves are on the thinner end of the spectrum, with a decently solid crispy crunch.  A little bit oily, but in delicious mouth pleasing sort of way, and at the same time, delivering a good amount of real Alaskan potato flavor.  All in all, extremely impressive gourmet kettle cooked potato chips!

Alaska Chip Company’s Katmai Volcano Jalapeño Potato Chips are so tasty that we had to update our Top 5 (actually Top 9) Jalapeño Flavored “Chips” of all-time.  So, if you happen to find yourself in Alaska, and you have that craving for some deliciously spicy kettle chips, these are your no brainer choice.  And while you are there, if you could pick us up a bag or two, we would really appreciate it!

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

Chip provided to Chip Review from Alaska Chip Company for review

Alaska Chip Company Official Website

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REVIEW: Art’s & Mary’s – Hot ‘N Zesty Jalapeño Home Style Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Art's & Mary's Hot & Zesty JalapenoIt has probably been over a decade ago now since we first, and last, crossed crunchy paths with the legendary – (that’s right legendary, in our books at least, if you’ve tried them, then probably yours as well) – Art’s & Mary’s Hot ‘N Zesty Jalapeño Home Style Potato Chips.  Honestly, we were sort of anxiously worried to taste these chips again.  Maybe our memory from ten years ago isn’t all it is cracked up to be, and A&M’s chips aren’t really that great…  Or, maybe our personal tastes have simply changed so much that chips that we once loved, no longer register as great any longer…

Well, by the good grace of J&V, we here at Chip Review are beyond ecstatic to report that A&M’s Jalapeño chips are not only just as amazingly fantastic as we remember them being a decade ago, but they may in fact be even better!!  It only took the crunch of one chip for us to confirm and re-solidify Art’s & Mary’s position on Chip Review’s Top 5 Jalapeño Flavored Chip of all-time.

Art’s & Mary’s Homestyle, aka Kettle Cooked, Tater Chips are probably the perfect example of what we want in kettle cooked potato chips.  Medium-thickness, really rigid, perfectly crunchy, a tad toothsome, and altogether fantastic.  But, as perfect as the chips themselves are, our most favorite aspect of these chips is the jalapeño seasoning.  And we are not just talking about the chili heat that these deliver, although that they most certainly do!  No, we are also talking about the depth, and complexity, and cohesiveness that this seasoning recipe resonates using a combination of jalapeño, garlic, onion, and citric acid!

We could go on and on about what makes these chips great, but, let’s just say that we looooove them!  They are easily some of our all-time favorites.  If you ever find yourself driving through Doo-Dah, Kansas, we suggest you make a bit stop at the local grocery store and pick yourself up a bag or two of these fantastic chips.  In fact, while you are there grab us a few bags as well please!!

Chips provided to Chip Review by J & V for review

Art’s & Mary’s Official Website

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REVIEW: Broad Ripple Chip Co. – Sweet & Spicy Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Broad Ripple Chips - Sweet & SpicyAs if we needed any more reason than the promise of a terrific brunch at Milktooth, or the deliciously spicy iconic shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s Steak House, to make a trek to Indianapolis these days…… Broad Ripple Potato Chip Co. has possibly given the greatest reason of all: some absolutely delicious, 5-chip, “A” list, Sweet & Spicy Potato Chips!

Last year around this same time we reviewed (and very much enjoyed) Broad Ripple Chip Co.’s lip-smacking Original Potato Chips.  We explained to you how the company’s name did not actually reflect the style of potato chip as we had assumed it did, but rather was chosen as a representation of the neighborhood they are from – Broad Ripple Village in Indy.  Sounds like our kind of place!

As for the chips themselves – WOW!!  Seriously, here at Chip Review we eat a lotta-lotta….LOTTA different chips, and while many of them are very good, only a fair share of them are “A” list amazing.  And these chips are just that absolutely “A” LIST!  And yet, at the same time these potato chips taste a little different than most of the others……a little more REAL!  You know what they taste like?  Like hand made potato chips.  Like something your grandmother would have made while you were growing up (only better).  Something that simply cannot be faked, or mass produced, and exemplifies the time and effort and love required to create delicious potato chips of this quality.

Broad Ripple Potato chips are made with Russet Burbank potatoes, and we’re starting to think that they may just be the perfect potato for chipping.  Thick cut, hearty crunch, fried perfectly to a golden brown, exuding a nutty, rich, POTATO-FUL flavor!  To say that we could not stop eating these chips would be the understatement of the year.

As for the Sweet & Spicy seasoning blend, well it is the perfect Yin & Yang flavor combination to compliment the robust potato chips.  The sweet half of the flavor equation almost tastes like honey, and it pairs excellently with the rich potato flavor.  We also tasted light notes of garlic, along with a good scattering of sweet onion flakes.  As for the spicy heat, well, it is certainly no joke.  Like any great spicy seasoning worth it’s weight in chiles, this one gets it’s burn from our most favorite of them all – habanero.  The orange chili pepper delivers a ample sting on the initial crunch, and a delightfully perfect slow burn on the swallow!  Overall, this Sweet & Spicy combo was flawlessly balanced.

On the back of the potato chip bag with the cute little pug on it, Broad Ripple Chip Co. says “every step of the process is done by hand: selection, slicing, seasoning and packaging.  They are made in small batches in pure, heart-healthy canola oil and delivered fresh….We think you’ll agree that these chips are pretty, pretty good.”  Well, sorry Broad Ripple Chip Co., while we certainly do believe in all of steps you take to create these chips, we just cannot agree with your understatement that these chips are pretty, pretty good.  These chips aren’t even remotely close to pretty good, they are absolutely delicious!  Plain and simple, if we taste better chips than these this year, we would be pretty, pretty surprised!!

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 Broad Ripple Chip Co. for review

Broad Ripple Potato Chip Co. Official Website

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REVIEW: Rusty’s Island Chips – Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Rusty's - Island ChipsIt’s true.  We can’t deny it.  Here at Chip Review we do not review very many “plain” or “original” or “regular” or whatever you wish to call them – good old potato chips.  It’s a fact, check the stats.  We do not have a definitive answer as to why this is, but in the back of our minds we sort of feel like most “regular” potato chips are too much the same to warrant writing a review about them.  That, and would there even be enough to write about?  Plus, our palettes usually prefer the punch and flavor difference that seasoning or flavoring adds.  But… BUT!!  Every once in a while we cross paths with some chips that astound us, amaze us, and force us to re-evalute our closed-minded, flavor wanting, chip way of thinking.  Today, those chips are Rusty’s Island Chips!!

Let’s begin with Rusty’s chip story:

Once upon a time, 1980, Rusty, while dreaming of far away places, came up with a plan to make Maui Potato Chips on the mainland. Six months later, Rusty was manufacturing Rusty’s Island Chips in his own little kitchen in Costa Mesa, Ca. His Maui recipe chips were selling like hot cakes in every gourmet market in Southern California. By 1990, Rusty’s Chips were in every major market as well. He was shipping chips to the east coast by the truck load and even to Hawaii.

Rusty’s little Maui chip company grew and grew. It got so big so fast that the stress was getting to Rusty, and he wasn’t surfing anymore. He did not have time to be on his sail boat. He wasn’t happy. So he let a big company swallow up his little company. Well the 1990’s came, and a lot of things did not survive the times and one was Rusty’s Maui Chips. The recipe was changed, the little kitchen turned into a factory, and the love for the best chips ever faded away…

Well, Rusty’s Back!!  He has his own chip kitchen in Huntington Beach and things could not be better….!!!

There are a few rules that any “regular” potato chip should follow if it wishes to be great.  First, it better come from some superb potatoes, because with regular potato chips we all know that you won’t get any help from salt if you are hoping to cover up the quality of the potatoes you are using.  Two, the CUT is key.  Just like with a great steak, people have different preferences as to what constitutes the best cut, and there are obviously many varieties.  Should we go thin, or should we go thick, or should we add a wavy ripple, or a criss-cross waffle cut??  What ever style of cut those great potato chips choose, they must fully commit to it, and try to make it the best variation of that variety!  Third, salt type, and level.  Very, very important when talking about regular potato chips.  Why?  Well, other than the frying oil used to crisp those potato slices up, salt is the only ingredient really triggering those taste buds to wake up and take notice!  The salt should compliment the chips, without overwhelming them.  All of these facets must come together in perfect salty, crunchy and potato-y chip harmony, if that little old “regular” potato chip wishes to grab our attention away from all of those flamin’ hot and spicy cheese dusting seasoned chips out there!  At this point it is probably needless to say but Rusty’s Island Chips have done just that!!  Perfect potato chip harmony!

Rusty’s Island Chips are really, really fantastic potato chips!  The chips are definitely thicker cut, although it seems like they may vary in thickness a little bit from chip to chip, leading us to believe (and we may have actually read this somewhere) that they could possibly be hand sliced.  If that is the case, that is some real dedication and attention to detail.  Both of which we recognize and appreciate!  The thicker cut potato chips deliver a deliciously hearty and firm crunch.  Nearly on the verge of tooth shattering, but not quite that crispy.  Probably most notable are the chips pure potato flavor.  Golden harvest yellow in color, reminiscent of the radiant California sun they are made in. The chips potato flavor is sort of tough to describe.  The chips deliver a deep and rich starchy potato flavor, with a touch of that nutty, rustic, burnt potato flavor that we really love on the tail end.  We wonder what type of potatoes Rusty is using here?  Usually, when we taste that dark-nutty-burnt notes, they are coming from Russet potatoes, but the coloring on these just do not coincide, so we’re guessing they are not Russets.  Some may consider these chips a touch too greasy, but we think that they are just right.  Salt coverage was a tad inconsistent, but the majority of the chips were more than amply covered.  Plus, whatever type of salt Rusty is using is fantastic!  It appears that it is a French Mediterranean Sea Salt.  Ooh la la!  We love and can really taste that slight mineral tang that the sea salt adds.

In the end, what we are trying to say is that these potato chips really just taste like some great fried potatoes.  And we love, love, love fried potatoes of all varietals!  Needless to say, these chips were very easy to devour (too easy, in fact…must find more)!!  We could not stop eating them!  We would not stop eating them!!  At this point we think that it is fair to say that these are among the best regular potato chips anywhere.  In fact, let’s not beat around the bush here, we’re going to go ahead and say it – Rusty’s Island Chips are so fantastic that they not only made our Top 5 Regular Potato Chips list, but it they’re sitting atop it!!  That’s right numero uno!!  Our #1 Regular Potato Chip of all-time!!  Now we only wish Rusty’s chips were more readily available in our neck of the Midwest (of course there’s always the internet).

We will sign off with what Rusty always says “Life is good….eat more chips!!!”  Well Rusty, that won’t be very hard when they are this good!!

So, what are your favorite plain or regular potato chips of all-time?  Make sure to tell us at our Potato Chip poll.

Rusty’s Island Chips provided to Chip Review for review

Rusty’s Official Website

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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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