REVIEW: Fire Corn – White Cheddar Jalapeño Popcorn

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Fire Corn - White Cheddar Jalapeno PopcornOften times, sequels fall very short of the greatness that their predecessors provided.  But!  Sometimes, just sometimes, there are those amazing exceptions that defy history!  Those concepts that have taken everything great from the original, and used that as a basis to somehow create something just as good…if not better!!  Case in point Greg “B.A.” Anders Fire Corn White Cheddar Real Jalapeno Popcorn!

A little while back we reviewed and raved about Greg “B.A.” Anders (original) Fire Corn.  Plain and simple, it is really amazing stuff!!  And, just like with a great sequel, we are not going to try and reinvent the review (if for some reason you have not yet read our review of the original Fire Corn – HERE – you really should do that before anything else)!  If, for some other reason, you are unwilling to do such a thing, then so be it, and you are probably not going to truly understand the plot line of our review!

Fire Corn and White Cheddar Real Jalapeno Fire Corn are easily the best popcorn that we have tried this year, and actually 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, high quality ingredients, executed tremendously, and frankly the amazing decision to combine real jalapeno slices, white cheddar cheese and popcorn!

The white cheddar variation takes the original recipe, and simply adds another delicious flavor layer to the mix. And we mean delicious!  Fire Corn’s white cheddar seasoning is easily some of the tastiest and creamiest white cheddar we have ever tried!  The smooth, creamy, salty, white cheddar layer doesn’t only add great flavor to the popcorn but also helps to subdue just a bit of the jalapeno heat (which we could see being a touch too spicy for some people out there).

In the end, we should probably point out that as good as both the Original Fire Corn and White Cheddar Fire Corn are on their own, if you can score a bag of each, and enjoy them together in delicious popcorn harmony, you will definitely be thanking us for a long time to come!!

And, just because we love this sort of thing, we 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!

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

Advertisements

REVIEW: Chef’s Shoppe – Beer Popcorn

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

** Updated 11/10/15 – upon further review (aka more delicious sampling) of this impeccable product, we felt it our duty to change the beer popcorn’s rating to “A” list!

Chef's ShoppeWe 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.  Seriously, we cannot begin to tell you how many different pictures we receive each day from one person or another asking us “hey, have you ever tried these ones?” or, “hey, we’ve never seen these, have you reviewed these?”, or “hey, we’re in Ohio have you ever heard of Grippo’s??”  More often than not we have already tasted and reviewed whatever snack may be on the photo, but every once in a while that person or people come through and we strike it snack rich!!  “Grab one or two of every flavor they’ve got!!”  we yell over the phone or texting machine.

The most recent example of this type of scenario just took place a week or two ago.  One of us from Chip Review walked into the office one morning and there sitting on our desk is a small collection of a variety of different flavored popcorn from some company called Chef’s Shoppe.  The flavors ranged from dill pickle to pizza to bacon cheddar, but the one that really caught our attention, and in the end the one that we ended up liking the most was the beer flavor!

But first let’s back track to this Chef’s Shoppe.  After a little investigative work, and explanation from the giver of the popcorn, we learned that the Chef’s Shoppe is a Gourmet Kitchen Store (aka specialty cooking and food store) located in Edwardsville, Illinois.  And, Edwardsville is the third oldest city in the state of Illinois.  Although technically a city in southwestern Illinois, Edwardsville is considered a part of the greater metro area of St. Louis.  So, we’re not sure if Edwardsville citizens cheer for the Blackhawks or the Blues!  We can only imagine that it is a heated debate in those parts!!  Sorry, back on track.  Obviously the Chef’s Shoppe sells more than specialty kitchen tools and foods and such.  They also offer more than seventy different popcorn flavors.  According to the Chef Shoppe’s webite:

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 end of the popcorn spectrum, with very round, and softer 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 beer flavoring – WOW!  This stuff is pretty awesome!  Certainly some of the most unique flavored popcorn we have ever tried.  Visually, no one would ever assume that they were about to eat beer flavored popcorn, it pretty much just looks like a cheddar cheese popcorn.  However, a couple kernels in the mouth, and one quickly realizes that they are enjoying something a bit unusual, something they can’t quite pinpoint, and something DELICIOUS!!  We were surprised to discover that the base of the popcorn seasoning was actually spicy cheese.  Nowhere on the packaging does it indicate that the popcorn is anything but beer flavored?  However, it is immediately apparent that this popcorn also includes a slightly spicy and creamy cheese layer in addition to beer (quick glance to the Chef Shoppe website confirms our findings).  What really sets this popcorn apart, and what makes us love the flavoring is the decisively yeasty beer flavoring.  The spicy-cheesy-beer-y combination works amazingly well with popcorn.  We were beyond impressed to say the least!!

So, 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 the Chef Shoppe.  Just make sure that one of those flavors is the BEER!!

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

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

REVIEW: Vitner’s – Sizzlin’ Hot Tangy Triple Cheese Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Vitner's - Tangy Triple Cheese - Sizzlin' HotImagine one cold, windy night, good old rich and creamy, sour cream and onion potato chip decided to take it upon himself to borrow some salty, and tangy cheese notes from no other than big cheddar chip down the street.  Of course chip then thought it necessary to visit a ragin’ party in hot Sizzlin’ville, to make sure and add a touch of spice to his life.  And finally, just to round out the night properly, chip hopped on the Garlic Vinegar El Train headed west, and road it all the way home from the flavor loop!

That’s right, that’s one tasty Chicago night!!  And not very much different from the night we discovered these delicious Vitner’s potato chips!

Everyone in the world has their Mount Everest, or if they don’t they should definitely find it.  Mount Everest represents that one painting an artist has been working towards their whole life, or maybe that marathon you’ve been training for and finally complete, in other words, Everest is that tallest of tallest mountains, that seemingly impossible obstacle, that you finally climb and conquer!!  We feel like that is what Vitner’s has accomplished with these Sizzlin’ Hot Tangy Triple Cheese Potato Chips.  Every other one of their flavors leading up to these were simply for practice.  Only trying to perfect that crispy chip and salty seasoning combo, and eventually craft their masterpiece!

After tasting these chips everyone at Chip Review paused for a second and looked at one another in wonderment, marveling how we had never tasted these chips prior to that moment?!  We live in Chicago, and the C.J. Vitner Company began here nearly 90 years ago, and yet our paths had never crossed these amazing chips?  Luckily for everyone, especially you, destiny has now brought us together, and we can all share in the excitement for these delicious chips!  In other words, go find yourself a bag, so that you can better understand what we are going to try our best to describe to you.

Vitner’s Sizzlin’ Hot Tangy Triple Cheese seasoning is both deliciously unique, and weird.  A funky flavor extravaganza that strums notes of tangy, sour, salty, spicy and salty!  Deliciously delivering a depth, and complexity, and comfort, and soul with an amazingly balanced flavor harmony.  Seriously, these chips ignite your taste buds!  Probably the best and most simple way we can describe them to you would be like sour cream and extra cheddar chips with a good splash of hot vinegar.  If that doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven to you, we probably can’t be friends!

Of course, all of the great seasoning in the world doesn’t matter much without a great delivery medium to rely on.  Vitner’s potato chips are on the thinner and lighter side of the spectrum.  A toothsome and crispy bite to the slightly greasy potato chips.  Very surprisingly we could actually taste a lot of the potato flavor from behind the barrage of Sizzlin’ Hot Tangy Triple Cheese seasoning!

Needless to say, the chips are easy to devour (probably too easy)!!  We are quite disappointed that it took us so long to discover these chips, but we are proud, and pleased, to live in the city that produces them, and more importantly, the region that actually sells them!!!

Discovered at Shell Gas Station; Westchester, Illinios

Vitner’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Lay’s – Copa de los Sabores (Flavor Cup) – Brasil Feijoada

Rating: ©©©©© chips (“A” list)

Lay's - Copa de los Sabores - FejoidaAlright, we have reached the culmination of this southern hemisphere tour de chips!  Lucky for you, and even more lucky for us, we saved the best for last!

If you are a regular around these parts then you know that we’ve already reviewed Lay’s Ensalada Chilena (deliciously simple), España Chorizo Iberico (tangy and funky), and Peru Pollo a la Brasa (lackluster) flavored chips, and in our opinion they have completely blown away Lay’s U.S.A. in the new, limited edition flavor field!  This is how it should be done!!  South American Style!!!

You may have already read the following, but for those of you who have not:

Wouldn’t you know it, Chip Review leaves the country right as Lay’s U.S. released this year’s four new ‘Do Us a Flavor’ chips.  So, we missed all of the initial hub-bub, and our own ‘Do Us a Flavor’ reviews were a little behind on the ball, but everything worked out in the end, because while most of your were struggling through weird flavors like cappuccino, we were busy devouring four delicious limited edition Lay’s Chile Copa de los Sabores! Aka – World Cup inspired flavors!  That’s right, in honor of 2014’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Lay’s Chile decided to release four unique flavors highlighting traditional dishes from four, scratch that three, South American countries, plus Spain??  *On a side note: we just wonder why Lay’s Chile opted to include Spain, a European country, rather than stick with their South American siblings, and include a country such as Argentina, who of course exudes World Cup soccer, and who’s grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, would have fit right in with this flavor line-up??  Is there some sort of underlying rivalry between the two…?!  Or, are are they simply honoring their Latin American roots by including Spain? The world may never know!

Sort of fitting that Brasil was our flavor winners among Lay’s Copa de los Sabores flavor line-up because they were also the soccer, excuse us futbol, team that made it the furthest in this year’s World Cup! Brasil – really good at soccer, and even better at chip flavors!!

So, what exactly is feijoada?  Well, for those of you who somehow unfamiliar with this delicious Brazilian staple (shame on you), let’s just call it the most comforting-comfort food there ever was!  You know that favorite winter dish that only your grandma, (who just so happens to live far far away), makes only once a year when you finally come to visit?  Now imagine just how comforting that dish is to you, multiply that comfort by three, and you may begin to understand the delicious contentment that feijoada provides.  Feijoada reminds us of home, even if it was never made in any of our homes growing up.

More technically, feijoada is a thick black bean stew cooked at a very low temp, for a very long time, with various cheap cuts of pork and beef.  The rich and hearty Brazilian stew that we are familiar with is often accompanied by rice (to soak up all the delicious stew juice), julienned collard greens (adding some freshness and crunchy texture), farofa (toasted flour – think very finely ground bread crumbs, toasted with butter and bacon, providing some salty, nutty, and additional porky notes), and lastly, orange slices (for some acidity, and of course to help cut through all of that richness!).  Sounds complex, sounds like a lot, and it is, but amidst everything that is going on, feijoida is completely harmonious!

So, how well did Lay’s do with replicating feijoada’s vast array of flavors?  Did we really taste layers of rich black beans, stewed with pork and beef with sides of greens, rice, toasted flour and oranges?  The simple answer is NO, but do these potato chips taste absolutely unique and delicious?  YES! Yes they do!!!  Not only were these easily the best among the four Copa de los Sabores, but they are also the best chips that we have ever had from Chile, and even among the best Lay’s that we have tasted ever!  The seasoning included an amazing array and interplay of flavors.  Everything from a slightly smoky meat flavor, to some tangy sour acidic notes, and even a touch of some bitter vegetal notes.  And while the chips may not have perfectly represented Brasil’s national dish, they were a delicious and complex attempt.

Viva las papas fritas!!

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

Chips discovered at Lider Express; Santiago, Chile

Lay’s Chile

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©©notable

©©©©lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Kitchen Cooked – Cheese Kettle Kurls

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Kitchen Cooked - Cheese Kettle KurlsOkay, we just have to do it……

There is simply no stopping us now…..

Kitchen Cooked Cheese Kettle Kurls are THE BEST CHEESE PUFFS OF ALL-TIME!!

Phewww!  There we said it, we mean it, and we feel so much better for it!

And wouldn’t you know it that the best cheese curls that we’ve ever tried come from a small town in southwest Illinois, the company sources its ingredients locally, cooks in small batches, and gives back to the community that embraces and supports it.

So what sets Kitchen Cooked Kettle Kurls apart from all of the rest?  We will try to put it into words for you, but probably the best piece of advise we should really give you is to stop what you are doing right now – Wait! First, finish reading! – then go find yourself a bag, or two, or ten, of these and send us a thank you in the morning!  And FYI, we cannot be held responsible for any delicious addictions that may form as a result of trying these.

Probably the best way we can describe these to you are rich, cheesy, deliciousness!  Somehow these Kettle Kurls seem almost moist, like they have been spritzed with butter, and dusted with bright orange, salty, finger lickin’ good cheese powder.  A quick glance to the ingredients list on the back of the bag, and we’re pretty sure we have discovered the Kurls true secret.  First of all, everything is better with butter, and Kitchen Cooked must know that, because they have made the delectable decision to add it to their Kurls.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, there is an additional layer of flavor with a light touch of sour cream, even further emphasizing the creaminess we were talking about.

The Kitchen Cooked Kettle Kurls also of course encompass the perfect textbook cheese curl.  The extra large Kettle Kurls hit every one of the necessary classic curl components.  Initial crispy crunch – check.  Extremely light and airy mouthfeel – check.  Finishing with an even somehow more than normal, tongue melting puddle of cheese – check, check!  Plain and simple, these are the best we’ve ever tried!

As a wise individual once said:

“I love cheesy poofs.
You love cheesy poofs.
If we didn’t eat cheesy poofs,
We’d be LAME!”

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

Discovered at Hy-Vee; Madison, WI

Kitchen Cooked Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list